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).
Welcome to the Community
This unprotected spring is located in Ejinja Village, Ashiunzu sub-location, Central Butsotso location, Lurambi Constituency of Kakamega County. Most residents of Ejinja Village are farmers. They grow crops at a large scale, growing mainly various vegetables, maize, bananas, and beans. Some can afford to grow sugarcane, which yields a great return of investment. If not a farmer, a community member might make bricks. Many clients come from Kakamega Town looking for these building materials, since there has been a huge boom in infrastructure development.
A normal day in this community begins at 6am. Parents who have children old enough for school start by preparing them for the day. Once parents have seen their children off to school, they walk to their farms or brick-making location. Children spend their entire day at school, and parents spend their entire day undertaking manual labor.
After seeing the great results of Andrea Mutende Spring’s protection project, someone referred Mark Ashikuku Spring to us, saying that many community rely on it as their sole source of water.
The current source of water for this community is an unprotected spring. And it is certainly contaminated! This is attributed to the fact that the spring is located very close to a flowing river where most people go to wash their possessions such as utensils, bathe themselves, and water their animals. There is no doubt that these contaminants spread to the spring as well. Nonetheless, community members use this water for cleaning, drinking, cooking, irrigating farms during dry seasons, and watering their animals.
Community members using water from this unprotected source are victims of many different waterborne ailments. The verified waterborne diseases include typhoid, cholera, malaria and various coughs. We met Mr. Mark Ashikuku, who the spring is named after, complaining of how his family repeatedly suffers from typhoid. He says that “There was a time when I spent around 10,000 Kenyan shillings on medication on my son who suffered from typhoid for a very long period of time, money which I could otherwise have invested in my brick-making business.” Mark’s case is just one example of the many in this community.
Under half of households have their own latrine. Any latrines observed during our initial visit turned out to be pit latrines made of mud. None of them had floors constructed, which can be both hard to clean and dangerous. A dirt floor changes to mud during the rainy season! But the other half of the households that don’t have a pit latrine? Human waste is not disposed of properly and thus poses a huge risk to the greater community.
During training, we will take this community on a transect walk to sensitize them to some of the more serious health threats. 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.
Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training and Sanitation Platforms
Community members will be trained for three days on a variety of health, hygiene and sanitation topics. This training will result in community members donning the roles of health workers and water user committee members. The training facilitator plans to use PHAST (Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Training), CLTS (Community-Led Total Sanitation), and ABCD (Asset-Based Community Development) methods to teach community members, especially the women and children who feel the burden of household responsibility. Training will equip each person with the knowledge needed to practice viable and effective health solutions in their homes and at the spring.
By the end of training, participants will also have identified five needy families to benefit from sanitation platforms. These are concrete floors for latrines that are safe and easy to clean. Five new places to use the bathroom will help create a cleaner living situation for the entire community.
Plans: Spring Protection
Locals are eagerly preparing for this spring protection project. They have agreed to gather the local materials needed for construction to begin, which include sand, ballast, hardcore, bricks, fencing poles, and even a few helpful hands!