This is home for Kikaka Self-Help Group, which aims to help Kitandini Community, Kaliani Community, and numerous other villages. The group is comprised of farmers who believe that if they work together to address food and water scarcity in their area, they'll grow stronger. This is Kikaka Self-Help Group's first year in the relationship with us and ASDF, and they look forward to working on their first water project.
This area is quite a drive from our main office. It's 133 kilometers of easy driving on a highway through Wote Town, but then it gets difficult: 44 kilometers on bumpy, hilly Murram Road.
It is a rural, peaceful area. Most of the households dotting the terrain are made of brick walls and dirt floors.
Most of our baseline survey was conducted inside, for it started raining right when we arrived. A community member invited us into their home to talk, and it was very comfortable until it poured so hard that the roof leaked!
Kikaka Self-Help Group and their neighbors make up a relatively young community, with over half the people under age 18. The average family has six members who rely on agriculture to earn a living. Unfortunately, there are high rates of poverty here, resulting in malnutrition exacerbated by erratic weather, rising prices, and food production challenges. Many men move to other areas of Kenya in search of a better living, often just doing manual labor on more successful farms.
Each day begins early with children preparing for school and adults taking livestock out to graze. The rest of the day is spent on the farm.
There's a total of almost 4,600 people living in this region, who are part of 979 different households. (Editor's Note: While this many people may have access on any given day, realistically a single water source can only support a population of 350-500 people. That's why we continue to work in the same region over a number of years. To learn more, click here.)
The main source of water for Kikaka group members and the surrounding villages is the Kinze River. This area is so dry that this river often looks like a sandy riverbed; community members have to dig holes to get the water underneath. The trek to this water source is about five kilometers, so community members bring a donkey to help bear the heavy water containers. Since a donkey can carry four 20-liter jerrycans at once, this can cut down the number of trips a family has to take if they strictly ration.
Because they're entirely out in the open, these scoop holes are contaminated. Animals are free to come and go, and rainwater washes dirt, fertilizers, feces, and so many other things into the water.
When delivered home, this water is poured into larger drums of 200 liters or greater.
We found that only one household bothers to treat its water; some believe that this water is safe, or others say that water treatment is just too time-consuming. Group members are aware that dirty water can result in sickness, but they seem resigned to their fate. Mr. Mwakavi Kimeu said, "Our children and community members have suffered a lot because of the water problem in this area. We hope that the implementation of this project will make things better."
Over 80% of households have a pit latrine. Most of them are made of mud. In the particular households we were meeting, there were a lot of holes in the wall that compromise the user's privacy. The family members admit that they try and wait until there's nobody around.
From what we saw, this community needs to develop in the areas of water treatment, garbage disposal, and pit latrine cleanliness.
What we can do:
To address gaps in hygiene and sanitation practices in Kitandini Community, training will be offered to self-help group members. 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 handwashing will be a focus. Group members will learn how to make their own handwashing stations with everyday materials. To motivate participants, we must show the links between these activities and their health.
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 gather 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 in Kitandini Village was also approved by our technical team because there is firm bedrock and wide banks at Wamua River. This particular sand dam is projected to be 56.1 meters long and 3.9 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.
With these projects, clean water will be brought closer to hundreds living in Kitandini, Kaliani, and other villages.
As the sand dam construction begins, community members will start excavating their first adjacent hand-dug well (click here to see that well project).
This project is a part of our shared program with Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF). Our team is pleased to provide the reports for this project (edited for clarity) thanks to the hard work of our friends in Kenya.