August, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Grace Muimi
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.
Our team recently visited Waita Community to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point. Shortly after, we returned to check in on the community, offer a COVID-19 refresher training, and ask how the pandemic is affecting their lives.
It was during this most recent visit that Grace Muimi shared her story of how the coronavirus has impacted her his life.
Field Officer Lilian Mutheu met Grace outside her home to conduct the interview. Both Lilian and Grace observed social distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Grace's story, in her own words. / Their questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.
What is one thing that has changed in your community since the completion of the water point?
"Water has been available for hand washing, cooking, and all domestic issues. During this COVID 19 pandemic, we have been advised to avoid crowded places. If we didn't have this project, we'd be queuing at other water points, and it is risky to contract the virus."
Grace at the well.
How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?
"Water is available for regular hand washing as advised by the ministry of health, drinking, and general cleaning."
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?
"Yeah, things have changed because we have to keep a social distance at the water points. We used to meet there as groups and chat for a while before leaving. Nowadays, we rarely meet, and we don't even know how things are going on in our area."
How has COVID-19 impacted your family?
"My family is highly affected since I have five kids, two are affected because they are candidates, and they hoped to finish their high school this year, and they are now almost discouraged. They no longer have the motivation to read because they are not sure if this year they will go back to school. I am afraid the kids will not perform well in their exams."
What other challenges are you experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
"We were planning to do a wedding before the pandemic with my husband in May, but tables turned, and here we are. We cannot have a wedding because the churches were closed. My husband lost his job, and he's currently at home."
Handwashing at COVID training
What hygiene and sanitation steps have you and your community took to stop the spread of the virus?
"In the projects we work on, we make sure that we have a tippy tap and soap for handwashing during the activities we do here."
What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?
"Churches being open and public transport."
Grace fetches water.
What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?
"I'm looking forward to Schools to be fully operational."
When asked where she receives information about COVID-19, Grace 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?
"The team reminded us of social distancing and proper handwashing."
May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Karuli 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 Karuli, Kenya.
We trained community members on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19.
Due to public gathering concerns, we worked with trusted community leaders to gather a select group of community members who would then relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.
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, 2018: Karuli Community Hand-Dug Well Complete
Karuli Community, Kenya now has a new source of water thanks to your donation. A new hand-dug well has been constructed adjacent to a sand dam on a local river. The dam will build up sand to raise the water table and naturally filter water. Community members have also attended hygiene and sanitation review, and plan to share what they learned with their families and neighbors. You made it happen, now help keep the water flowing! Join our team of monthly donors and help us maintain this hand-dug well and many other projects.
The report below from our partner gives the latest details of the project. We also just updated the project page with new pictures, so make sure to check them out!
Project Result: New Knowledge
Since we’ve been working with this area for a few years, our field officers made a visit to different households in the community to see how they’re doing with hygiene and sanitation. This allowed us to plan a review training to go over what people still need to work on. This hygiene and sanitation review was held at Jennifer Mwanza’s homestead, and was well-attended with most of the group members there.
We reviewed how to keep latrines clean, treating water, practicing personal hygiene, and disposing of trash properly among many other topics. There was still one group member who hadn’t built a latrine on her home, so we reviewed its importance and encouraged her neighbors to help her.
We also introduced the production of soap for both personal use and sale. They’ve already made dozens of liters that they plan to sell in the local market to fund the group’s farming efforts.
Mrs. Mwanza said, "The training was good because I have understood everything that has been trained and what was trained last year. This is because we are always taken through slowly, step by step. Initially, we didn’t understand a lot of hygiene details that were taught to us. Like for instance, our area is known for open defecation; but we now understand very well that its very important for every homestead to have a latrine and outside our latrine, we should have a tippy tap. We have been able to install all other sanitation infrastructures, as well as improving on our hygiene behaviors. Today’s training was exceptional. We have added knowledge on soap-making on top of what we already knew. This knowledge will enable us improve on hygiene like for instance, use the soap for hand-washing, cleaning our utensils and for income in our group and at personal level."
Mrs. Jennifer Mwanza
Project Result: Hand-Dug Well
We delivered the experts and materials, but the community helped get an extraordinary amount of work done. They collected local materials to supplement the project, including sand and water.
A hole seven feet in diameter is excavated up to a recommended depth of 25 feet. (Most hand-dug wells don’t reach that depth due to the existence of hard rocks between 10-18 ft.).
Water enters the well as the sand dam stores more water.
The diameter then shrinks to five feet when construction of the hand-dug well lining is completed. This lining is made of brick and mortar with perforations to allow for water to seep through. As sand builds up around the well walls, it will naturally filter the rainwater that’s stored behind the dam.
Once the construction of the lining reaches ground level, a precast concrete slab is laid on top and joined to the wall using mortar. Four bolts for the hand-pump are fixed on the slab during casting. The mechanics arrive to install the pump as community members watch, learning how to manage and maintain the pump for themselves. The well is then given a few days after installing the pump, allowing the joints to completely dry. After it rains, communities are advised to pump out the first water that seeps into the well because it often has a foul smell and a bad taste. After pumping that for a while, the water becomes clean and clear for safe drinking.
This hand-dug well was built simultaneously with its adjacent sand dam (to see the sand dam, click here). The sand dam will collect sand that stores and filters huge amounts of water, water that will then be accessed through the pump.
Mrs. Mwanza was willing to hold training at her home and to tirelessly work on this hand-dug well and sand dam system because she knows the change that clean water brings. "We have benefited very much from access to safe water from the wells we've already built with you. Personally, I have a kitchen garden at home so I don’t buy vegetables from the market. Our animals also can drink water from the dam. Initially we used to walk for many hours and walk for long distances to look for water but now that’s a challenge that has fully been solved. Diseases caused by drinking dirty water have been minimized because we no longer share drinking water sources with animals. The knowledge that we have gained from the WASH training has been very helpful in keeping animals away from our water sources and also treating our drinking water," she shared. She and the rest of her group are grateful how this new project brings water closer to hundreds of others.
January, 2018: Karuli Community Hand-Dug Well Underway
Karuli Community in Kenya will have a clean source of water, thanks to your generous donation. A new well is being constructed adjacent to a new sand dam, which will bring clean water closer to hundreds. Together, these resources will go a long way in stopping disease, hunger, and thirst in the area! We just posted a report including community details, maps, and pictures. We will keep you posted as the work continues!