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).
Elkana Mahonga is an unprotected spring located in Emmunwa Village, Ebusundi sub-location, Wekhomo location, Emabungo ward, Luanda sub-county of Kakamega County. It serves 36 households with a total population of 25o people, 90 of whom are male and 160 female. The community uses the spring's water for household chores like cooking, washing, and watering animals along with irrigation of nearby vegetable gardens. They use this same water for drinking.
The community landscape is highly rocky with many boulders dominating even the farmland.
A normal day in Emmunwa Community involves waking up early to fetch water and then going to the farm to earn a living. After lunch, locals retreat to resting at home or attending to their small-scale businesses at the local Kima Market.
The Current Source
Aside from being unprotected, Elkana Mahonga Spring is located at the bottom of a slope, and is therefore prone to contamination from surface runoff during the rainy season, a common phenomenon in Western Kenya. Farming activities near the spring also lead to contamination as the chemicals and loose soil from farms end up in the water. The spring's water is obviously unfit for human consumption. Open defecation in nearby bushes also subjects the water to contamination. As a result, many from the community frequent the health care center with cases of typhoid, and other water-related diseases like cholera are common.
Community members use clean plastic jerrycans to fetch water, which are even occasionally cleaned with soap. Once the water arrives home, it is poured into larger earthenware or plastic drums.
The community’s sanitation situation isn’t any good either. Many of the households lack pit latrines and therefore resort to open defecation in the bushes around their homes, posing an even greater threat to the community since all feces end up washed into the nearby stream or other water sources. The few latrines available are in poor condition because the logs used as floors are shifty, making children and the elderly opt for the nearby bushes. Many households also lack hand washing-facilities and dish racks.
Out of concern, the community decided to join hands and seek support to protect the spring. In their search, they heard stories of WEWASAFO's work of spring protection and the provision of sanitation platforms for needy communities. This spurred them to make an application for assistance through the WEWASAFO's Vihiga County office. The community is willing to contribute the locally available materials and Mr. Elkana Mahonga, in whose land the spring is located, readily promised, "Thank you for wanting to help us protect this spring, you are actually the ones giving much and I am ready to personally harvest the sand towards construction as said." The community will also provide food and accommodations for work teams during the span of this project.
In determination to get clean water, the community improvised by fixing a pipe in the eye of the spring and piled stones around it. They are therefore urging us to consider fully protecting their spring in order to reduce typhoid and diarrheal diseases and the concurrent medical costs for treatment.
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 Community Health Worker Group. 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. Training participants will also vote on and decide the families that should benefit from the new sanitation platforms.
The training sessions were held at the home of Mr. Raphael Mahonga, the brother of the owner of the land where the spring is located, but only after a consensus had been reached that trainings were needed for project sustainability. The spring management committee arranged the venue and confirmed a training date with the beneficiaries. Participants were entirely water point beneficiaries and their recruitment accounted for gender representation: males, females, and youth were in attendance.
The first training was the Water, Sanitation and Management Committee (WSMC). This was attended by 25 people, 5 men and 20 women. Topics covered in this training included:
- WASH and Training Objectives
- Community contribution and role in the project
- Leadership and Governance
- Group dynamics
- Roles and responsibilities of the WSMC
- Calculating Daily Water Consumption
- Site management and maintenance
- Water pollution and Water Related diseases
- Funds collection and management
- Record keeping
Next the Community Health Worker (CHW) training was held. This was attended by 21 people, 4 men and 17 women. Topics covered in this training included:
- Primary health care
- Common local diseases and their prevention
- Understanding disease transmission barrier
- Sanitation facilities for hygiene promotion
- Water handling and food hygiene,
- Environmental health
- Roles of hygiene promoters
- Calculation of treatment cost verses pit latrines cost
Attendance was very good for both trainings, as the team hopes for at least 15 people per session. Active participation was noted from the attendees who eagerly made inquiries on maters of health, sanitation and hygiene promotion and its importance throughout the trainings.
Methods used during the training sessions included a transect walk to investigate open defecation in the community, group discussions, demonstrations such as handwashing and how to make a leaky tin (a simple handwashing station), presentations and brainstorming exercises.
The trainings were a success. This was evident from the many appreciative comments from the participants on the training contents as well as their commitment to institutionalize the practice of proper hygiene in the households and community by sharing the gained knowledge with others in order to enhance community health for the residents.
Raphael, a retired teacher and the spring beneficiary was pleased with the trainings and had this to say in his vote of thanks: ''I really appreciate these trainings as am sure the others do. It is easier now to tell our people to put up latrines now that we've seen that open defecation not only endanger the culprit, but the entire community even those with latrines, since the feces end up in the water source and our open foods.''
Protecting the spring involves building a concrete structure around the water point to shield it from contamination. The process includes the following steps:
- Undertake water quality test
- Clear the site and excavate the foundation to the specified standards
- Excavate the land up slope from the from the spring discharge until three feet of water is flowing
- Create a firm foundation for the base slab, head wall and wing walls
- Do the fitting of delivery pipes, inlets, draw off pipe and overflow inlet screen
- Doing landscaping and drainage work around the site
- Fence the catchment area
- Remove potential sources of contamination and direct surface water away from the spring box or collection area by making drainage cut off
The community participated in the project by providing locally available materials like bricks, sand, hardcore and poles for fencing, and also by providing unskilled labor and accommodations for the artisans.
Rina Daudi, a 23 year old local housewife said, "Our spring now discharges very clean and safe water that I can access at any time of the day. I no longer have to wake up early to time when the water is clean to collect, God bless you!''
Water from the spring is used to irrigate nearby vegetable farms and for domestic purposes like drinking, cooking and watering animals. The spring has a high discharge rate of 27 seconds per 20 liter jerrycan despite the current dry spell being experienced. The spring is no longer open to contamination by surface run off and therefore contamination of the water point has been greatly minimized. With two discharge pipes, children and women no longer waste a lot of time queuing before fetching water. The time saved by women has been use to engage themselves in income generating activities.
The children similarly have more quality time to spend in homework and to play. Outbreaks of water borne diseases like typhoid, diarrhea, cholera, dysentery and amoeba in this community is now gradually diminishing. Children and women who suffered most from these diseases will no longer have to suffer. A lot of money which was by the community members to treat these water borne diseases will now be spent for other economical activities hence reducing poverty in the community and the region at large.
Sanplats are concrete slabs used as stable floors for pit latrines. The installation of sanitation platforms for 5 households around Elkana Mahonga spring are complete and now in use. They are happy with these sanitation platforms since they stated that they are safe and easy to clean. Open defecation, which was evident previously, has been greatly minimized and is nearing elimination as the community members have adopted good hygiene practices and encourage all to have latrines. Putting up sanitation facilities has been made a priority to this community which wants to be an open defecation free community.
These community members are very satisfied and happy with the project and say thanks to TWP.
Thank you for working with us to unlock potential!