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).
Robert Chemase Spring is located in Shibuli sub-location, Butsotso Central location, Lurambi sub-county of Kakamega County. The spring has been in use for a long time but has never been protected. The total households using the spring's water for both domestic and drinking uses is 21, and each household consists of about eight people, putting the total number of beneficiaries at about 168 people.
A normal day in this village starts in the early morning with women going to the streams and springs to draw water. They then prepare breakfast for the school-going children, and after head to their farms.
Meanwhile, men are taking care of their cattle and attending to their sugar cane farms. Sugarcane farming is the most common type of agriculture and is this community's main source of income. A better part of the day is spent by everyone on planting and cultivating this crop.
The Current Source
Community members testify that the spring has never dried up, even during the hottest weather and dry seasons. In fact, children from the neighboring Eshikhuyu Primary School occasionally come to Robert Chemase Spring when their own crises arise. Even when the spring is just used by the community, it is still too congested. All of the human activity in the area exacerbates soil erosion and most other types of contamination.
The spring is infested with frogs, and children from the community and neighboring school improperly dispose of their waste. Plastic bags and chunks of dirt were observed floating in the water. Some other contaminates are surface runoff, proximate farming, and open defication. The bush around the spring provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which transmit malaria to the spring beneficiaries.
When fetching water from Robert Chemase Spring, people use bowls, small cups, and jars to fill larger containers. The larger buckets and pots are rarely covered, which subjects the water to more contamination during the trip home. Once home, water is dumped into drums or other pots. All containers are cleaned in the traditional way that utilizes maize cobs, sand, and water. Unfortunately, water containers still appear very dirty. Since the water is obviously not clean, some community members boil their water before drinking. Boiling or not, cases of waterborne disease are reported to be a regular issue.
Robert Chemase, the spring's landowner says, "We have a very big problem with water from this area, most of our children and women are always in the hospitals because of diseases we suspect are associated with water and sanitation issues. Will be glad to have this spring protected and enlighten our community in terms of water and hygiene." The community acknowledges that once the spring is protected, they will be able to get clean water and also minimize the time taken to get that water.
Sanitation facilities within the Robert Chemase Community are very poor, and some families do not even have latrines and thus use the bushes. This is a practice that other community members are not happy about since there is a stream near the spring that is usually used for washing. During rainy weather, this waste is washed into both the drinking spring and the washing stream water. This situation has prompted the community to request training and aid for those that do not have a latrine in their homes. As of now, no more than 50% of households have their own latrine. You will notice that most community members do not have tools like a dish rack or clothesline, and choose to air out their items on the ground. This community will greatly benefit from hygiene and sanitation training to sensitize them on the importance of good hygiene practices.
Community members will attend hygiene and sanitation training for at least three days. This training will ensure participants are no longer ignorant about healthy practices and their importance. The facilitator plans to use PHAST (Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation), CLTS (Community-Led Total Sanitation), ABCD (Asset-Based Community Development), group discussions, handouts, and demonstrations at the spring. The final day is meant for training of new community health workers that will promote good health in their village. Also during the final day of training, participants will select five families that should benefit from new latrines.
Training will also inform the community and selected families on what they need to contribute to make this project a success. They must mobilize locally available materials, such as bricks, clean sand, hardcore, and ballast. The five families must prepare by sinking a pit for the sanitation platforms to be placed over. All community members must work together to make sure that accommodations and food are always provided for the work teams. Community members have already expressed that they are ready and willing to contribute the locally available materials.
For the community to be able to curb the high cases of disease associated with dirty spring water, there is a need to protect the spring. We must also ensure the community is engaged through listening and discussion on the best ways to maintain high standards of hygiene for latrines, compost pits, drying racks and general home cleanliness. This can be done through the community health worker training and the water and sanitation management committees who will oversee there is proper usage of the new, protected water point.
Project Results: Training
Participants gathered at Robert Chemase's homestead, since he is the spring landowner. Mr. Chemase mobilized these members of his community, encouraging each individual to participate and take the sessions seriously. All the participants freely discussed the water, sanitation and hygiene issues affecting them, though women were more vocal since they are most affected: women carry out all the domestic chores including washing, cooking, and cleaning. Topics covered included:
- Forming an effective Water and Sanitation Management Committee and its roles
- Community contributions
- Group dynamics
- Daily water consumption
- Managing and maintaining the spring
- Water pollution and consequential diseases
- Funds collection and management
Upon completion of the training and construction, community members have organized two committees to ensure proper management and maintenance of this project: The two committees are the Water Sanitation Management Committee (WSMC), who will ensure the protected water point is properly used and ensure any damages are repaired. Second, the Community Health Workers Committee (CHW) is responsible to ensure that the community adheres to sanitation and hygiene practices so as to reduce cases of waterborne disease.
After training was over, participant Rose Simiti shared, "We have never seen such a well-protected spring around here, we are happy for this especially with the training and lessons it has come with. This is a serious project and I expect all the community members to adhere to this and we will no longer be queuing at the dispensary for treatment on diseases we can avoid by adhering to the sanitation and hygiene lessons we have gone through. Among others, site management and water related diseases were particularly of great importance to me and I am happy and ready to adhere to every little activity and lesson I have learnt."
Community members of the CHW and WSMC committees identified five of the most vulnerable households in terms of sanitation facilities to benefit from new sanitation platforms. A total of five sanitation platforms were installed and are now being used by these families. Beneficiaries are making good use of these new latrines because they are now aware of the dangers of open defecation. It is expected that proper use of these sanitation facilities will go a long way in reducing contamination in this community. Rose Simiti also benefited from one of these new facilities, and says, "These sanitation platforms are so nice that my children want to use them every time, I think it makes them comfortable and that’s why you will see one after the other."
Spring protection construction began on January 1st. 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 this protection project. 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. Local farmer Imbai Ndeta happily says, "This is amazing to see this water in this different manner from a few days ago when we used to take lots of time to get dirty water home, we are going to protect and ensure this water source is fully taken care of. We are no longer going to suffer and use our resources in that clinic anymore, and in fact they will start asking where we have gone to!"
Thank You for your generous heart that makes all of this possible!