Mbitini village is a highly-populated area with more than 1,400 people living in the region. The community is located in Kenya's semi-arid region, where water demand is high, but access is low. Many people here walk long distances to get water each day.
The current water source for the community is a sand dam and shallow hand-dug well that we helped build last year. The one well, however, cannot meet the entire community's water needs, leading to overcrowding and sometimes low water quantity. As a result, people return to using scoop holes to get water. While fetching water from the scoop holes may help to cut down on wait times compared to the well, the scoop hole water is unsafe for consumption.
"Getting water in our community has not been easy. The water point is very far - more than three kilometers from my home - and it takes a long time to walk there, draw water, and walk back home with donkeys," explained Annastacia Musau.
"As a mother and a wife, the need for water here is very high - especially times like today with the COVID-19 pandemic, which requires higher standards of hygiene for prevention. That is not possible when the water source is far and getting water is a challenge."
Not everyone can afford donkeys, like Annastacia. That means they have to carry the water buckets themselves - a task that most often falls on women and children. As a result, more trips back and forth to the well are required. All of this makes fetching water more tiring and more time-consuming.
Our main entry point into Mbitini Community has been the Mathyakani Self-Help Group, which is comprised of households that are working together to address water and food scarcity in their region. These members will be our hands and feet in constructing water projects and spreading the message of good hygiene and sanitation to everyone.
We typically work with self-help groups for three to five years on multiple water projects. Completing multiple water points in a community will ensure that people like Julius Musili will no longer spend a significant part of their day walking to get water.
"As members of Mbitini community and the great Kavaini location, our biggest problem has always been water, which the government has failed to address over time. Our lack of adequate water supply has greatly contributed to the high poverty levels in our locality as farming with the natural rains has been continuously failing. We need water through community initiatives like what we are doing now, working together to beat a common challenge," said Julius.
The implementation of more sand dams and shallow wells will provide more water sources, helping the community to address their water challenges.
What we can do:
After the community picked the ideal 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 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 this sand dam, a hand-dug well will be installed to give community members an easy, safe way to access that water.
Building this sand dam and the well in this community will help bring clean water closer to hundreds of people living here.
These community members currently do their best to practice good hygiene and sanitation, but their severe lack of water has hindered reaching their fullest potential.
We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with the Mathyakani Self-Help Group and other community members to teach about important hygiene practices and daily habits to establish at the personal, household, and community levels. This training will ensure that participants know they need to make the most out of their new water point as soon as the water is flowing.
One of the most important topics we plan to cover is handling, storing, and treating water. Having a clean water source will be extremely helpful, but it is useless if water gets contaminated by the time it is consumed. We will also emphasize the importance of handwashing.
The community and we strongly believe that all of these components will work together to improve living standards here, which will help to unlock the potential for these community members to live better, healthier lives.
We will conduct follow-up visits and refresher training and remain in contact with the group after all of the projects are completed to support their efforts to improve sanitation and hygiene.