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
Walibese Spring is located in Endeli Village, Sabatia Sub-County of Vihiga County. Endeli Village is a place of hills and valleys, covered with both tamed and untamed vegetation: trees and farms.
A normal days begins very early with households chores. These require fetching enough water to last the day. When households chores are done and children are in school, the adults focus on generating income for their families. Men focus on making bricks and women go to the farms or run small businesses at the nearby Mbale Market, depending on the agricultural season.
Walibese Spring serves over 100 households from Endeli and its neighboring communities. This huge number of beneficiaries is because the spring is reliable and yields water throughout the year, even during dry seasons. (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.)
The community uses the spring's water for general household chores such as cooking, cleaning, bathing, and drinking. They also use the water for commercial purposes like brick-making.
Because the spring's water is unprotected, it is open to contamination from many different sources. It is located in a valley, making the open water especially vulnerable to dirty surface runoff. This open nature of the water point also allows animals to drink directly from the water, with other animals like frogs - living and reproducing in the water. During our initial visit, it was obvious there were tadpoles and frog eggs at the spring! Cases of open defecation were also observed in the surrounding bushes, which poses a huge threat to the health of these people.
Women and children gather water with small containers, pouring to fill larger jerrycans. To save time, sometimes a person will dunk their jerrycans directly in the spring to fill them. Most of the jerrycans are 20 liters and don't have covers.
According to the community's health center, water-related complications such as diarrhea, stomachaches, typhoid and malaria are common. "The hospital beds in our health centers are always occupied. We have spent a lot of money and time seeking medication for water-related diseases in this community. These resources could have been put in development use if we had a safe source for drinking water," says Mr. Odongo Francis, a local brick-maker. Because locals know these are the consequences of drinking Walibese Spring's water, they often choose to walk long distances in search of safer drinking water from the nearest protected spring that is almost one kilometer away.
The sanitation standards in Endeli Community are worrying; many households lack latrines, and the few that have latrines (less than 50%) let them deteriorate. The households with latrines also use them as bathing rooms. Since they are made from wood and mud, cleaning is almost impossible. The floors and walls are also shaky, so children and the elderly fear using them. Many don't even have doors to provide users with privacy! These poor conditions often make a child prefer using the bushes for relief.
The community also lacks other basic sanitation facilities such as compost pits for proper disposal of waste, clotheslines, hand-washing stations and dish racks.
The community sent in an application letter for a spring protection project. After our initial visit, we agree with the community that there is a need to protect Walibese Spring. The community readily agreed to contribute 20% of the local raw materials needed for construction. These materials include bricks, ballast, hardcore, fencing poles, sand, and even helping hands! Particular community leaders will also begin to inform and mobilize families to attend the hygiene and sanitation training sessions. Training will result in a group of Community Health Workers responsible for promoting healthy practices, and a Water User Committee who will oversee the maintenance and management of the spring once it's protected.
Protecting the spring will help save both time and health for beneficiaries. The hygiene and sanitation training will be crucial to inform community members of all the good, healthy practices that are within their means. Using different methods like CLTS (Community-Led Total Sanitation), participants will be sensitized to how important it is to properly dispose of waste. It attracts flies in the open, and flies... well flies fly around. Flies also happen to be attracted to food. There is a huge need to construct more latrines, and proper knowledge of this fecal-oral disease transmission route will motivate community members to do so! We strongly believe that after the spring protection and the three days of hygiene training, most of the issues raised above will be curbed.