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).
This unprotected spring is located in Wetai Village, Murumba sub-location in Shikoti location of East Butsotso ward within Lurambi constituency of Kakamega County. The spring is serving a total number of 40 households. The number of beneficiries is 320 people out of which 173 are female and 148 are male.
The community members around this spring are mainly farmers who grow food crops like maize, beans, cassava, and bananas for their own consumption. Some also grow sugarcane to sell.
In this community, roles are defined according to gender. Women engage themselves in household chores while most men go out to work as casual laborers in order to earn a living for their families. Women wake up in the morning and prepare their children to go to school, fetch water from the stream or spring, come back to work in their farms, prepare meals for their families, wash clothes, clean utensils and fetch firewood. The circle keeps repeating itself.
Access to clean and safe water is paramount to every individual in the world. Safe water enhances health of the community members and thus faster development can be realized. However, thousands of people in Kakamega County still have no access to clean and safe drinking water. When men, women and children have no access to safe and clean drinking water, development stagnates.
The Current Source
Community members around Musembe Spring are not exeptional. They have no access to safe and clean drinking water. This is due to the fact that the spring is located on the lower side of a farm and since it is unprotected, it is open to contamination by surface runoff. Farming activities are also done very close to the water catchment area, further contaminating water in terms of fertilizers being washed into the open water source. Other sources of contamination are from human activities such as stepping into the water to fetch or open defication, and soil erosion.
Locals use Musembe Spring's water for domestic uses such as irrigating farms and watering animals. Water is fetched by stepping into the water to scoop it with a small container which is then poured into a 20-liter jerrycan. Once home, water is then stored in a pot. Most of these containers do not appear to be clean, although community members wash them using water, sand and leaves.
Since it is obvious the water is dirty, many community members choose to boil it before drinking. However, boiling it or not, the water still causes waterborne disease to be rampant in this area. Diseases suffered from are typhoid, cholera, malaria, and other cough-related complications.
While collecting the baseline information we met Albert, a husband and a father of three children. Albert Nandi is one of the spring beneficiaries who has been suffering from typhoid for three years. "I have spent more than 40,000 Kenya shillings on medication. This really pains me because if I was getting clean and safe drinking water, I would have used the money to do income-generating activities," laments Albert. Albert is not alone; many community members have similar problems.
Sanitation is also a challenge in this community. Most of the community members lack sanitation facilities like latrines, dish racks, clotheslines and compost pits. Most latrines observed are in poor condition, without roofs or doors. Floors made of wood rot away and pose a threat to children and the elder. Because of this, most of the community members resort to relieving themselves in the bushes. This worsens the sanitation and hygiene situation in this area.
Hygiene and sanitation training will be held over the course of two days: the first day is for learning new health practices, and the final day is meant for the education and formation of a Community Health Worker Group. The training facilitator plans to use CLTS (Community-Led Total Sanitation), group discussions, demonstrations, 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 five new sanitation platforms.
Having seen the need in this community and their willingness to join hands with development partners, we propose that this spring should be considered for protection. This, coupled with training, will eliminate all contamination routes.
Project Results: Training
Training was held at Musembe Community Church. The village elder mobilized all of the participants, most of who are either part of the Water User Committee (WUC) or Community Health Workers (CHW). On arrival, the community members warmly welcomed the WEWASAFO team and quickly gathered for the start of sessions. One could easily see their enthusiasm and joy from how they were acting; a sign that the project had been fully accepted and that the community was willing to learn more. The participants were very active and involved throughout the training.
WUC topics were as follows:
- Group dynamics
- WUC roles and responsibilities
- Water point management and maintenance
- Water-related diseases and their prevention
During Community Health Worker training, they covered:
- Primary healthcare
- Common local diseases
- Environmental and personal hygiene
- Handling water properly
Training went smoothly, and participants were very grateful for all of the knowledge they gained. "I have gained a lot of useful information and the one I enjoyed most was learning how to wash my hands the right way. I will go and teach all my children... how to do the same so that we all avoid diarrhea," local farmer Henry Wesaya commented.
Project Results: Spring Protection
Construction began on January 15th, and began with the collection of locally available materials such as bricks, sand, and ballast. The site was cleared and excavated at the discharge point until three feet of water was flowing. Hardcore was mixed and then cast to form the foundation and walls for the catchment area. Pipes were fitted, drainage dug, and the site was fenced in, all of which presented no challenge to the construction team.
During construction of the spring protection project, the elderly men of this community slaughtered a chicken for the artisans as their form of prayer that the spring would last for a very long time. The community members could not wait for the project to be handed over to them since they were eager to draw fresh water.
The spring is now protected and free from surface run off. All the contamination routes have been blocked. Women and children now have an easier time drawing water as opposed to when they had to step into the water to fetch. Now that construction is complete, the community members are very happy and satisfied with the project. Local mother Nancy could not hide her joy:
"I am very happy about this project. For many years, politicians have used this spring as their campaign tool. Every election time they persuade us that if we vote for them they will help us protect but once they are elected, you will never see them," said Nancy, "For now I know the health of my family members will improve since we are getting safe water. I would really wish to shake hands with the donor of this project. But before that happens, may the heavens bless them for putting a smile on my face and the entire community."
In order to prevent contamination of the water sources resulting from open defecation, five vulnerable households that lacked toilets received sanitation platforms. The sanitation platforms for Musembe Spring are now serving a total of 30 family members.
Thank You for your generous heart that makes all of this possible!