This project is a part of our shared program with Western Water and Sanitation Forum (WEWASAFO). Our team is pleased to directly share the below report (edited for clarity, as needed).
A normal day in this community starts at 5 AM with the women going to the nearby spring in search of water to prepare breakfast for their families and clean their homes. After breakfast, they proceed to the farm to undertake farming activities, because this community's source of livelihood is sugarcane and maize farming. At midday they take their animals for water at the spring and then back to prepare lunch for their families. In the afternoon, they then proceed to attend village meetings, trainings and other activities. At 5 PM they go back to the spring to fetch water for bathing and cooking supper.
The Bushido Community approached WEWASAFO for assistance after seeing the success of the Mundoli Spring Protection Project in their neighborhood.
The Current Source
The only source of water in this area is an unprotected spring a little over .5 km away. Women or children will tote plastic jerrycans to the spring, where they will directly scoop from the water. These jerrycans were observed to be fairly clean, because locals use a traditional method of cleaning which involves sand, leaves, and water. However, most of these containers do not have covers, which makes the water further susceptible to contamination on the return home. Once home, the water is dumped into a larger plastic container.
It is most obvious this spring's water is contaminated because of its cloudy color. Because there is no proper catchment area, people must step into the spring to fetch water. Other factors of contamination are surface runoff, animal activity, proximate farming, open defication, and soil erosion. Since people are aware the water is contaminated, they are making sure to treat it before drinking. It was observed that they practice boiling, chemical, and filtration methods; treatments that will be reviewed during hygiene and sanitation training. Even though locals are doing all they can, they still suffer from drinking this water.
There is a great need for new latrines, because less than 50% of households have access to one. Furthermore, out of the latrines present, most are dilapidated and in filthy condition. During the survey visit, it was obvious this issue has led to open defication. The children stated that they always use the bush due to fear of falling through the old floors of the latrines. Through the CLTS (Community-Led Total Sanitation) method used during training sessions, community members will be sensitized to the consequences of open defecation and will become motivated to build new latrines for their families. Under 25% of households have constructed any type of hand-washing station, and none of those were observed to have soap available. Hygiene practices such as hand-washing are poor within the community because of the inadequate water situation. And though building a dish rack or clothesline is simple, less than 50% of families have them. The majority of people dispose of garbage in the fields as compost.
Lack of access to safe water and inadequate sanitation and hygiene practices has undermined community health and well‐being and has heightened the risk of waterborne diarrhea illnesses and vector-borne diseases such as flus, typhoid, dysentery, common coughs, and malaria. Chris Ochango, whose family the spring is named after, states, "We have suffered for long in this community from outbreaks of waterborne diseases as a result of using water form this unprotected source, I have used close to Ksh 3800 in the last month treating typhoid. We urge WEWASAFO to consider protecting the spring for us." Mr. Ochango earns money by riding a motorcycle which he uses as a taxi, called a "Boda-Boda". Check out the pictures below to see Michael, one of our staff, riding a Boda-Boda during his last visit to Kenya!
Locals have very positive attitudes about the upcoming project. When we informed them on the need to install more hand-washing stations and latrines, and that this was possible, they were very excited. During hygiene and sanitation training, they will learn about how to improvise with different materials and construct these facilities.
Hygiene and sanitation training will be held over the course of three days: the first two days are for learning new healthy practices, and the third day is meant for the education and formation of a water user committee. The training facilitator plans to use PHAST (Participatory Health and Sanitation Training), CLTS, ABCD (Asset-Based Community Development), group discussions, demonstrations, handouts, and a transect walk to teach hygiene and sanitation. The transect walk will teach locals to watch for practices that go on and facilities that are present related to good health and hygiene. Sometimes, a participant feels shame when the group arrives at their household and points out things that are unhealthy or unhygienic; but in Kenya, this affects people to make a positive change.
After the initial survey, the facilitator will focus on what this specific community needs: in-depth hygiene and sanitation education, enlightenment about the negative practice of open defication, and disease prevention education.
Participation in every project is a must. The community must be willing to participate by providing the required local materials for construction, accommodations, and meals during training and for the construction teams. They must also select five families that will benefit from five new latrines. These latrines will have sanitation platforms, which are smooth, concrete slabs with holes in the center that function as a safe and solid floor. Those five families will be responsible for sinking their own latrine pit and for gathering the materials needed for latrine walls. The spring protection will require locals to gather hardcore, clean sand, ballast, fencing poles, and bricks. Once construction is complete, the spring will no longer be open to contamination. The village chairman stated they are very ready and willing to avail the required community contributions.
Project Results: Training
All training was held from February 9th to 12th at a homestead near the spring, so on-site training could also be conducted. There was a total of 15 participants at each session. There was active participation, with community members openly sharing their own experiences and views of water and sanitation. The community members arranged for the venue and their meals during training as a part of their project contribution, while WEWASAFO brought the training materials and note-taking paper. The training participants were selected from the Water User Committee (WUC) and Community Health Workers (CHW); two groups formed prior to training by the community members. These groups will take charge of spring operations, maintenance and hygiene promotion at the spring and at their homes.
The topics covered during WUC training were as follows:
- Community leadership
- Group dynamics
- Roles and responsibilities of the WUC
- Calculating daily water consumption
- Water point management and maintenance
- Water pollution
- Water-related diseases and their prevention
The facilitator demonstrated how to properly fetch water, transport it, and store it at home. The transect walk was considered a success, as participants were able to identify and then realize the ill effects of open defication around their community.
The CHW training covered the following:
- Primary healthcare
- Disease transmission and prevention
- Environmental health
- Proper water-handling
- CHW role
- Investing in a pit latrine
After training, community members were inspired and empowered to stop open defecation and start building and using latrines. Behavior changed collectively as community members analyzed their own sanitation status, including the extent of open defecation and the spread of fecal‐oral contamination that is adversely affecting each one of them. "The training has opened my eyes to realize that I have been wasting a lot of money treating diarrhea diseases due to open defecation. I will personally sensitize people on the dangers of open defecation so that we can have a healthy community and very rich for that matter, as we shall save money previously wasted treating diseases to do other economical activities," said Chris, the chairman of the WUC.
Project Results: Spring Protection
Construction began on February 31st. The site was cleared of brush, and the ground around the spring opening was excavated to make room for construction. Hardcore, sand, gravel, and water were mixed to cast the foundation of the catchment area. From there, walls could be built with fitted pipes. It was then important to excavate and build a proper drainage area and fence in the site.
Community members contributed the locally available materials such as sand, stones, ballast, and bricks. Some young people also volunteered to work alongside the artisans, watching how the artisans worked in case they need to repair the spring protection on their own in the future.
Contamination by surface runoff has been eliminated as a result of protection. Cases of waterborne diseases within the community are expected to decrease tremendously. The women and children will now save time previously used searching for safe water, and will use it to undertake other productive activities.
CHW Rose Ngase said, "This is a miracle from heaven for us to have safe water. Thank you WEWASAFO and TWP, I will personally make sure that the spring is clean and in case I find anyone making it dirty I will deal with him or her properly! Ha! Now diarrhea in my house will be a thing of the past."
The handing over ceremony was conducted by WEWASAFO and the community members at the site after completion. The facilities were officially handed over to the community members to take ownership and use. The community thanked WEWASAFO for assisting them to access safe water, and promised to take proper care of their spring.
The sanitation platforms for beneficiaries around the spring have been installed and are now in use. These sanitation platforms are now providing community members with a method of safe waste disposal, which will go a long way in preventing diarrhea and other health complications.
Thank You for your generosity that has unlocked potential at Chris Ochango Spring!