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
Wuluvai Spring is located in Minyika Village, Kivagala sub-location, North Maragoli location, Sabatia Ward, Sabatia sub-county of Vihiga County. Wuluvai Spring has been used for drinking water since its discovery by community members in 1924. Now, 270 people from 30 different households rely on this unprotected spring.
The people around Wuluvai Spring are peasant farmers who work the land every day. They grow crops such as sugarcane, potatoes, and other kinds of vegetables for their families, and grow crops to sell such as tea leaves. It is a hilly area that experiences a good level of rainfall.
We found out about Wuluvai Spring and the surrounding community while completing a project at Hedwe Spring. One of the community members who fetches water from Hedwe Spring mentioned the plight of their neighbors. When we heard this, we decided to pay a visit to Wuluvai Spring.
An unprotected spring is one that is open to contamination. Wuluvai Spring is particularly contaminated by nearby farms; when it rains, fertilizers and pesticides are washed into the water. Animal and human waste also joins the mix of contamination.
There is so much activity around the spring, between children playing and animals roaming free. The water is also dirtied during the fetching process. Women and children bring small containers to dunk for filling their larger 20-liter jerrycans. When full, the water container is supported on the head and carried approximately a half kilometer back home. When home, water is separated by use. Drinking water is stored in covered clay pots to keep it cool, and water for cleaning is either poured into 100-liter plastic containers or kept in the fetching container.
Some women boil or treat their water with chemicals before serving it to their families, but there is still a high risk of waterborne disease such as typhoid and cholera. Many people here choose to travel long distances in search of clean water instead of drawing it from their unprotected spring. We met Peter Kakeyi, a farmer who drinks the water from Wuluvai Spring. He said "I suffered a stomachache just a week ago after drinking raw water from this Wuluvai Spring!"
Under half of households in this area have their own pit latrine. These are made with mud walls, grass, and rusty iron sheets. The floors are packed down with cow dung. The biggest challenge is floor upkeep; they get filthy but are near impossible to clean. During our visit, it was obvious that open defecation is an issue because of the lack of latrines.
We were able to find at least one place to wash hands, but more emphasis needs to be put on cleanliness. The community is ready and willing to attend hygiene and sanitation training to learn about the practices they can adopt to lead healthier lives.
Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training
This community requires training on good hygiene and sanitation practices for them to improve the environment they live in. They will learn about how to keep a clean environment and maintain personal hygiene.
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.
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: Sanitation Platforms
The five families chosen by the community 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 some helpful hands!
These people are in need of safe and clean water to eliminate waterborne disease and thus save time and money that is spent on treatment. This time and money can be invested in economic activities. Students can stay in school all the time, and academic performance will improve.
Once Wuluvai Spring is protected, locals will have clean water for drinking, domestic chores, and farm irrigation.