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 Bushibo Village, Ashiunzu sub-location, Central Butsotso location, Lurambi Constituency of Kakamega County. The village has a total of 36 households, and the total population is 285. Bushibo Village is also home to Shibembe Primary School which hosts 280 primary pupils and 78 early education pupils. There are eight teaching staff and two supplementary staff. (Editor’s Note: While this many people may have access on any given day, realistically a single water source can only support a population of 350-500 people. This site would make a great location for a second project. To learn more, click here.)
A normal day in this community begins at 5am! The women begin fetching water as early as 6am so they can use it to cook and do chores. Parents who have children old enough for school start by preparing them for the day; getting them washed, dressed, and fed breakfast. Once parents have seen their children off to school, they walk to their farms to tend the sugarcane or maize they are growing. Others take their animals out to graze. After preparing and eating lunch, women and men go to their separate community meetings until about 5pm. Right when the meetings disband, women go back to fetching water from Emusioma Spring. Children spend their entire day at school, and parents spend their entire day undertaking manual labor.
After seeing the great results of Chris Ochango Spring’s protection project, the community members using Emusioma Spring sent in their application. After our team assessed the village and their water source, it was obvious that the spring is indeed unprotected and thus contaminated.
The current source of water for this community is an unprotected spring. Beneficiaries use its water for domestic chores, irrigating farms, and watering animals. The nearby students use the spring’s water for drinking, cleaning classrooms, and cooking lunch for all the teachers and students of grades seven and eight.
This water proves unsafe for drinking, since numerous cases of waterborne disease have been reported. Malaria is also an issue in this area since the spring lacks proper maintenance, such as drainage ditches and cut grass. Farmer and mother Alice Mmbonee says that "If a month passes without the children getting sick, that is really unusual. If they are really, really sick, they need to go to the hospital. We have to take the children to the clinic maybe once every two months. It takes about six hours in total: one hour for traveling to and fro, and five hours average accessing medical help… When we get there, the hospital admits the child and I stay on average three days attending to him or her."
The spring is located on low land, so its especially prone to contamination from surface runoff and soil erosion. There is no fence, so animals freely drink from the water. Farming also takes place just uphill, so different chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides often wash down into the water when it rains.
Locals lack awareness about the connection between their spring’s dirty water and their ill health. They continue to wash clothes, water their animals, and even bathe in the spring.
Water from the unprotected spring is rarely boiled or treated due to lack of hygiene awareness and to some extent, a lack of wood fuel due to poverty. There are also strong cultural beliefs that water treatment chemicals such as chlorine cause cancer.
Because the spring has no catchment area yet, people fetch water by scooping with small containers, and then pour it into a larger 25-liter jerrycan or other plastic container. Most of these do not have covers, so the water inside is also open to contamination on the journey home. Once home, most families have larger containers ranging from 100-1000 liters for water storage.
The sanitation situation for the community around Emusioma Spring is very bad. Under a quarter of households don’t even have a pit latrine. The latrines that are even there are dilapidated and almost collapsing. They are smelly, damp, and have a lot of flies inside. Any families that could benefit from their own latrines are too discouraged to do so, and end up using the surrounding bushes to relieve themselves.
Almost no other kinds of sanitation facilities were seen. No dish racks, clotheslines, or hand-washing stations. If there was a dish rack seen, we’re pretty sure there were some shoes drying with the utensils.
Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training
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.
Plans: Sanitation Platforms
Community members will decide on the five families most in need of a new latrine. These families will receive a sanitation platform, which is a concrete floor that makes a great foundation for a safe and clean latrine. These families will prepare by sinking a pit that the concrete slab can be placed over. These five new latrines will go a long way in reducing the level of open defecation in this 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!
Lack of access to a basic service like clean water has a huge negative impact on human development here. The impact is on maternal and childhood health, education, gender equality, and general livelihood. There is an urgent need here that will be tackled immediately: The Kenyan government, WEWASAFO, you, and The Water Project are pooling our efforts to ensure safe water and sound sanitation facilities for this community. Since our project is not yet complete, we have encouraged the community to start boiling or filtering water before drinking.