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
Maraba Spring is an unprotected water source located in Maraba, Kakamega Central location, Shieywe Ward, Lurambi Constituency of Kakamega County. This spring is situated 500 meters from Kakamega Town. The people of Maraba practice small scale farming and run businesses as their main sources of income.
Standing in the center of town, one will discover that a normal day starts very early, especially for the women. The women start by taking their produce from the farm to the market. Next come the children who are rushing to school. Most men also wake up early to be on time for their formal employment, or others who are looking for casual employment. Casual employment here, known as "jukali," could be taking a job on a construction site or ferrying people to and fro on the back of a "bodaboda" (which we know as a motorcycle!).
As the day goes on, fewer people can be seen around the community since most are at their workplaces. Women are the only ones seen around the homes. They might be drawing water or doing household chores such as washing clothes. As the day draws to an end, the roads are busy again with people hurrying back home.
Maraba is known for hosting the biggest agricultural produce store in all of Kakamega called "Cereal Board." This village is also host to the area's main cemetery.
The village elder contacted us, sending in an application expressing the great need in his community. Below are the details gathered during our first visit to the community.
Maraba Spring currently serves 600 people from over 100 households. There are a lot of people here because of the huge number of rental houses. (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 community would be a good candidate for a second project in the future so adequate water is available. To learn more, click here.)
Locals attest that the water source never runs dry even in the driest of seasons. The spring's water is used by community for general household tasks such as cooking, washing, and cleaning, as well as for drinking.
Being unprotected, the water source is subject to pollution from many different sources. The community members especially notice contamination after heavy rains, which increase the turbidity of the water (it looks brown and is just as dangerous!). The open nature of the water point also allows animals to drink directly from the spring, while others like frogs live and reproduce in the water; algae is growing in the water, which is another indication that the water is not safe for consumption.
Women and children dunk their large containers directly into the water to fetch, which not only wastes time but gets the water even dirtier. Smaller children have to wade into the water to fetch, which stirs up the mud on the bottom. The next in line have to wait for the dirt to settle.
Not only is the water dirty starting at the source, but it just gets worse as it is transported to and stored at home. The water containers used here don't have covers, and appear to be caked in dirt. Once home, water is normally separated by intended use; drinking water is poured in a clay pot with a cover, and the rest of it is kept out on the ground in an open container.
Consequences of drinking this water plague the community; typhoid and diarrhea are a common occurrence.
No more than half of these one hundred households have latrines. Any we observed are made from wood slat floors and mud walls, which make them very hard to clean.
Children and the elderly fear to use the bathroom because of these old shaky slats that can break at any time. During our initial visit, we recognized open defecation is thus a huge issue here. In fact, there are even sites delegated for this practice.
No more than half of these families have bathing rooms, either. These are important for having privacy while bathing! We couldn't find many helpful sanitation tools such as dish racks, clotheslines, or hand-washing stations.
Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training
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.
Training will also result in the formation of a committee that will oversee operations and maintenance at the spring. They will enforce proper behavior around the spring and delegate tasks that will help preserve the site, such as building a fence and digging proper drainage.
Plans: Sanitation Platforms
On 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.
Plans: Spring Protection
Fetching water is predominantly a female role, done by both women and young girls. Protecting the spring and offering training and support will therefore help empower the female members of the community by giving them more time and efforts to engage and invest in income-generating activities.
In addition, protecting the spring will ensure that the water is safe, adequate and secure. Construction will keep surface runoff and other contaminants out of the water. We met Laban Lubabn'ga, a watchman in the area. He's very excited about the opportunity to improve everyday life here, saying "In our village, outbreaks of waterborne disease is like the order of the day. This is attributed to drinking of contaminated water from the unprotected spring. A week hardly elapses without taking our children to the health centers due to diarrhea diseases resulting from poor hygiene and water handling. It's a dream that you have been sent from God to save us from the situation."