This project is a part of our shared program with Africa Sand Dam Foundation. Our team is pleased to directly share the below report (edited for clarity, as needed).
Welcome to the Community
Kithangaini Kithuluni Atui Self-Help Group was formed in the year 2001 with a membership of 60 people, and registered with local government in the same year. Currently, the active members are 45 people who come from Kithangaini Kithuluni Village, which has a population of 8,400 people.
The group's main objective is to support each other in digging terraces on their farms, constructing gabions, table banking and social welfare. The mean age of members is 52, and the average size of each household is six family members.
As is easily seen in the group's purpose above, farming is the main source of income here; half of the group is able to earn at least 3,000 shillings a month, while the rest manages a bit more.
Community members always take advantage of the rain when it comes. They put barrels and other plastic containers outside to catch the rain. However, many areas see only one to two large rains during the year.
During the dry months, everyone walks to River Thwake to get the water they need.
Water isn’t flowing at this river. People have to dig in the riverbed until they hit water. They fill their 20-liter containers with the water from this hole, and load it onto a donkey or ox-drawn cart. If a family can’t afford a pack animal, they must hoist the heavy container up and carry it all the way home themselves.
This water is open to contaminants from many different sources. Livestock brought back and forth drink freely from the hole, often relieving themselves somewhere along the way. When it rains, even more waste is washed into this water source, not to mention the dirt itself that erodes and muddies the water.
Not only is a lot of time sacrificed to walk to and from the river, but even more time is lost as community members fight illnesses suffered after drinking its dirty water. Rampant waterborne disease is a reality here, with treatment costs diverting substantial family income.
70-year-old Annah Ndeti said, "We know this water might not be safe for drinking, but we do not have an alternative. Some of us boil but most don't. We therefore need to be taught on different treatment methods to make it safe for drinking."
100% of group members' homes have a pit latrine, however rudimentary. Most of them lack doors and only have a curtain hanging there, which can be seen in some of the photos. You find a mixture of permanent and semi-permanent structures depending on the economic status of each household.
Less than half of households have a hand-washing station, and quite a few of these are missing a cleaning agent like soap or ash. Even a handful of households aren't using dish racks or clotheslines to dry their belongings safely up off the ground.
Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training
To address gaps in hygiene and sanitation practices in Kithangaini Kithuluni Community, training will be offered to self-help group members on three consecutive days. The members will learn about useful practices and tools to improve health, and then will be able to share those with their families and neighbors. Water transport, storage, and treatment methods will be taught, and hand-washing will be a focus. Group members will learn how to make their own hand-washing stations with everyday materials. To motivate participants, we must show the links between these activities and their people’s health.
Plans: Sand Dam
Members of this group heard about us from a neighboring self-help group that we are working with. They then approached our field officer with a request for support, and after verifying that they had the relevant registration documents, they were put on our mandatory six-month probation period. During this time, locals are expected to seriously take development to heart and begin constructing hygiene facilities and gathering local materials to be used in the construction process. After that, we returned to verify their water challenges and their need for additional support. The evidence to warrant our support was sufficient, and the group was taken on board. Their first proposed site for a sand dam was also approved by our technical team because there is firm bedrock and wide banks. This particular sand dam is projected to be 53.35 meters long and 5.5 meters high.
This sand dam will be one of many construction projects to come in the next few years. We will spend a total of five years unified with this community to address the water shortage. More sand dams will be built to transform the environment. As the sand dams mature and build up more sand, the water tables will rise. Along with these sand dams, hand-dug wells will be installed to give locals a good, safe way to access that water.
As the sand dam construction begins, community members will start excavating their first adjacent hand-dug well (click here to see that well project).