October, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Matthew Mulandi
This post is part of a new series by The Water Project meant to highlight the perspectives and experiences of the people we serve and how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them. We invite you to read more of their stories here.
Matthew Mulandi and his family.
Our team recently visited Kithumba community to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training and monitor their well and dam. Shortly after, we returned to check in on the community, offer a COVID-19 refresher training, and ask how the pandemic affects their lives.
During this most recent visit, Matthew Mulandi shared his story of how the coronavirus is impacting her life and his community.
Field Officer Lilian Kendi met Matthew outside his home to conduct the interview. Both Lilian and Matthew observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Matthew's story, in his own words.
What is one thing that has changed in your community since the completion of the water project?
"A lot has changed since the installation of this water point. We have plenty of water to plant trees and vegetables such as kales, spinach, onions, and tomatoes for domestic use at our homes and sale. Generally, farming projects have intensified thanks to this water project. Community members no longer have to walk for long distances to fetch water. This has enabled them to save more time to engage in other income-generating activities."
How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?
"Having a clean water point has helped us provide water for drinking, bathing, washing clothes, and other household uses at our homes."
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Kenya, has fetching water changed for you because of restrictions, new rules, or your concerns about the virus?
"Yes, a lot has changed for me since the outbreak of COVID-19. Following the restrictions provided by the government, I have had to practice handwashing before and after using the shallow well's hand pump, observe social distancing at the well to avoid contact, and wear a mask whenever I leave the house to go and fetch water."
How has COVID-19 impacted your family?
"The economy has become unstable since the onset of the virus. Casual labor jobs are not well paying as they were before, which has reduced the income earned at the household level. I had to send my wife and family to live with the extended family at my matrimonial home due to the changing times as I could not provide for them as consistently as I did before."
What other challenges are you experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
"Our income is unstable due to the lack of jobs. The economy is still rocky hence making it hard for us to engage in businesses as usual. My daughter was to join school this year, but that is not possible due to its closure."
Matthew watering his farm with water from the well.
What hygiene and sanitation steps have you and your community has taken to stop the spread of the virus?
"We took the following hygiene and sanitation steps to stop the virus: wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands with soap and clean water, and avoiding crowded places."
Like most governments worldwide, the Kenyan government continues to set and adjust restrictions both nationally and regionally to help control the spread of the virus.
What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?
"There were age restrictions set when going to church, but they have been lifted, which has allowed all age groups to attend church. The elderly can now provide counsel to the young generation. The opening of the marketplace has allowed businesses to start picking up gradually."
What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?
"I look forward to the opening of schools so that my daughter can officially join pre-school."
When asked where he receives information about COVID-19, Matthew listed the radio and our team's sensitization training.
What has been the most valuable part of the COVID-19 sensitization training you received from our team?
"Through this sensitization training, I learned the importance of handwashing at all times, social distancing, and proper hygiene and sanitation."
May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Kithumba Community
Our teams are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us in our fight against the virus while maintaining access to clean, reliable water.
We are carrying out awareness and prevention trainings on the virus in every community we serve. Very often, our teams are the first (and only) to bring news and information of the virus to rural communities like Kithumba, Kenya.
We trained community members on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19.
Before there were any reported cases in the area, we worked with trusted community leaders and the Water User Committee to gather community members for the training. At the time, social distancing was a new concept and one that challenges cultural norms. Although community members were hesitant to adopt social distancing during the training, we sensitized them on its importance and effectiveness in combating the spread of the virus
We covered essential hygiene lessons:
- Demonstrations on how to build a simple handwashing station
- Proper handwashing technique
- The importance of using soap and clean water for handwashing
- Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces including at the water point.
We covered COVID-19-specific guidance in line with national and international standards:
- Information on the symptoms and transmission routes of COVID-19
- What social distancing is and how to practice it
- How to cough into an elbow
- Alternative ways to greet people without handshakes, fist bumps, etc.
- How to make and properly wear a facemask.
During training, we installed a new handwashing station with soap near the community’s water point.
Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we also dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the disease and provide extra information where needed.
Water access, sanitation, and hygiene are at the crux of disease prevention. You can directly support our work on the frontlines of COVID-19 prevention in all of the communities we serve while maintaining their access to safe, clean, and reliable water.
February, 2020: Kithumba Community Sand Dam Complete!
Kithumba, Kenya now has access to a new source of water thanks to your donation. A new sand dam was constructed on a sandy riverbed, which will build up sand to raise the water table and naturally filter water.
We worked with the Kakwa Self-Help Group for this project. The members and their families contributed materials and physical labor to complete the project. In addition, they were trained on various skills such as bookkeeping, financial management, project management, group dynamics, and governance. We also conducted a hygiene and sanitation training to teach skills like soapmaking and to help improve behaviors such as handwashing.
"We are pleased that the project is complete and that it will enable us to have an adequate supply of water in our community. All the community members will now access water a stone's throw away from their homesteads," said Daniel Muunge, a farmer who is a member of the self-help group.
"In addition, the water point is safe and very easy to operate even for the children. We are grateful and expectant for the changes and developments that are yet to be experienced in this area."
When an issue arises concerning the water project, the group members are equipped with the necessary skills to rectify the problem and ensure it works appropriately. However, if the issue is beyond their capabilities, they can contact our team of field officers to assist them.
The community members collected all of the local materials like rocks and sand that were required for the successful completion of the dam. They also provided labor to support our artisans. The collection of the raw construction materials takes longer than the actual construction. For a large sand dam, materials collection could take up to 4 months.
Siting and technical designs were drawn and presented to the Water Resources Management Authority and a survey sent to the National Environment Management Authority for approval before construction started. Once approved, we established firm bedrock at the base of the sand dam wall. In the absence of good bedrock, excavation is done up to a depth at which the technical team is satisfied that the ground is firm enough to stop seepage.
Then mortar (a mixture of sand, cement, and water) is mixed and heaped into the foundation. Rocks are heaped into the mortar once there is enough to hold. Barbed wire and rebar are used to reinforce the mixture.
Once the foundation is complete, a skeleton of timber is built to hold up the sludge and rocks above ground level. The process is then repeated until a sufficient height, width and length are built up. The vertical timber beams are dismantled and the dam is left to cure.
This dam measures 45.1 meters long and 4.85 meters high. It took 515 bags of cement to build.
Sand dam construction was simultaneous to the construction of a hand-dug well, which gives locals a safer method of drawing water. As the sand dam matures and stores more water, more of it will be accessible as drinking water from the well. To see that hand-dug well, click here.
As soon as it rains, the dam will begin to build up sand and store water. With this water, the surrounding landscape will become lush and fertile. However, it could take up to 3 years of rain for this sand dam to reach maximum capacity.
The trainer conferred with the field staff about their previous visits to households and interviews with community members to determine which topics the community still could improve upon. This is the third project we have completed with this self-help group, so much of the focus was on determining what areas are in need of refreshing or improvement. Some 23 group members attended, as well as 1 church leader, 1 school leader, and 1 retired government leader.
The members converged at Simon Kituku’s homestead. Simon is a member of this group and his homestead was a central venue to most of the members. It also provided protection for everyone since it was raining on the day of the training.
They decided to train on topics including water treatment; latrine hygiene; the transmission of diseases; how to make a handwashing station; and making kerol (household cleaning detergent). Making kerol was a new idea that was introduced to the members. The members claimed that it was something they have yearned for a long time due to the state of their latrines. They were very excited to learn the idea that will enable them to improve their sanitation. They were also excited by the possibility of selling the kerol to their neighbors to make a small income.
“The training was good as we have been reminded of many things that we had forgotten about hygiene and sanitation. The training will help us to improve the hygiene standards of our families," said Mr. Muunge.
"The kerol-making training will enable us to keep our latrines clean as they will be germ-free and the number of flies will reduce.”
From the facilitator's perspective, the training increased the knowledge of the community members on hygiene and sanitation and this will help them to prevent diarrheal diseases. The training on how to make kerol which was highly applauded and adopted by the members. It will help them to generate income thus improving their living standards.
Thank you for making all of this possible!
January, 2020: Kithumba Community sand dam underway!
A severe clean water shortage in Kithumba Community drains people’s time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.
Get to know this community through the introduction and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with more good news!