There is no safe water to be found in Ivumbu Community. The more than 1,000 people who live here must walk for long distances to access the nearest water point then carry the water back home using their backs.
That is if that river has water.
The current water source is a seasonal river which is prone to running dry at certain times of the year. During the rainy season, people draw water directly from the river or by digging scoop holes in the riverbed. The water is dirty and unsafe for human consumption. I would not drink water from this source because it is open which leaves it exposed to all sorts of contaminants.
But during the dry season, community members must seek alternative sources of water that are even further away.
Some community members especially women and children have been covering large distances in search of water for use at the household level. This has exposed them to fatigue and impedes on their ability to do other work because so much of their time is spent in pursuit of water.
"Our community has been disadvantaged for many years in terms of water access," said Silas Kathungu, a local farmer.
"We lack a reliable clean water supply which has led to poor hygiene levels and members using water from sources not safe for human consumption. Cases of stomach problems and typhoid among community members have been reported in the past which are associated with the use of bad water."
Ivumbu Community is found in a fairly high altitude area which has favored good agricultural exploits by the community members. It is a peaceful rural location well vegetated with both exotic and indigenous tree species.
The majority of the community members are involved in subsistence farming, growing crops such as maize, peas, beans, mangoes, and bananas for family use and sell surplus which has been depending on the natural rainfall. Other community members are involved in formal and informal employment terms working hard to provide for their families.
People here work hard, but they have struggled in part due to the lack of access to safe and reliable water. But they ready for a change.
"We are committed to working hard to bring clean water close to us," Silas said.
Ending the water crisis in Ivumbu
Erratic rainfall patterns can't guarantee water for communities all year round as most rivers in the entire Makueni county are seasonal. Sand dams would, therefore, harvest rainwater where it falls and make it available to the community for longer periods of time.
We are unified with this community to address the water shortage. As more sand dams are built, the environment will continue to transform. As the sand dams mature and build up more sand, the water tables will rise. Along with these sand dams, hand-dug wells (check out the hand-dug well being installed next to this dam) will be installed to give locals a good, safe way to access that water.
Building this sand dam at a spot on the river will bring water closer to hundreds of people. After the community picked the spot, our technical team went in and proved the viability by finding a good foundation of bedrock. Now, our engineers are busy drawing up the blueprints. We estimate the dam will be 37 meters long and 4.9 meters high.
With these projects, clean water will be brought closer to hundreds of people in Ivumbu Village of Kenya. That makes it possible for communities to utilize the time saved fetching water and the water in the dam for income generating activities and farm irrigation.
We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with the recently formed Ivumbu Irrigation self-help group and other community members. These will teach about important hygiene practices and daily habits to establish in the community at the personal and household levels. Taking good care of self and environment will make for a healthy community.
Baseline Sanitation Facility Coverage:
Handwashing Stations 0%
Dish Racks 20%
Bathing Area 80%
Animal Enclosure 60%
Proper Garbage Disposal 40%
These community members attempt to practice good hygiene and sanitation but the inadequate water supply has been a big hindrance. They do not treat their water, which is very dangerous to their health. Their latrines are rarely washed, they do not dispose of their garbage safely, handwashing habits are unheard of in this area, and compound hygiene is highly neglected. General training of hygiene and sanitation will be very advantageous to this group.