Between the extreme drought and far distance to their water source, the 3,500 people of Nzimba can never get enough water.
Although we have helped the people of Nzimba with implementing two sand dams and corresponding shallow wells within the community in past years, there is still a significant portion of people who live more than three kilometers away from the well. For them, each trip to the water source takes several hours, leaving them drained and unable to perform other essential tasks like farming, cooking, or cleaning.
Community members also have the option to get water from a public tap, but the fee per jerrycan is expensive —and it's still far away from most of the population. Most people in Nzimba are struggling with a reduced income due to the drought and the current water crisis, so the tap is more of a last resort than a first choice.
"Despite my senior age, I have to go fetch water daily from the shallow well or public tap," said 79-year-old farmer Munyoki Mwende (pictured above). "The area is steep, and the journey is long because I stay far away from the water sources. This leaves me with little energy to focus on activities like personal hygiene and sanitation and preparing my land."
While the untenable distance is chief among the problems associated with the water crisis in Nzimba, it's not the only issue. The past few years have brought severe drought for this region, which is making the rain in this region even more erratic than normal. To counteract this, community members are rationing the water at the well, so even the families close to the water sources don't have enough water to tend to all of their needs.
"There is not enough water at home," said five-year-old Paul K (shown above). "Sometimes food is prepared late because my mother may take [a] long [time] to fetch water and come back home. When my mother leaves to fetch water, I am left home alone, and often there is nothing to eat because [the] water is not enough for cooking."
Another sand dam will help retain the local river's water closer to the remote areas of the community and, at the same time, will lessen the burden on the community's other water sources. Hopefully, with this intervention, the shortages and the rationing will end, and people will have enough water for their everyday needs.
What We Can Do:
Our main entry point into the community is the Self-Help Group, which comprises households 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.
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 the many people living here.
These community members currently do their best to practice good hygiene and sanitation, but their severe lack of water has significantly hindered reaching their fullest potential.
We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with the Self-Help Group and other community members to teach essential hygiene practices and daily habits to establish at the personal, household, and community level. This training will help to ensure that participants have the knowledge 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, storage, and water treatment. Having a clean water source will be extremely helpful, but it is useless if water gets contaminated when it is consumed. We will also emphasize the importance of handwashing.
The community and we firmly 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 typically work with self-help groups for 3 to 5 years on multiple water projects. We will conduct follow-up visits and refresher training during this period and remain in contact with the group after all of the projects are completed to support their efforts to improve sanitation and hygiene.