Western Kenya WaSH Program
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).
Musiero Village is home to 749 people from 118 different households. Most adults work on their farms and sell what they can in the local market, whether it be their harvest or other goods. (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.)
After they’ve fetched water, cleaned, and eaten breakfast, others will travel the four kilometers to Kakamega Town for work. Some are taxi drivers there, which the locals call “piki piki.”
This community learned about spring protections when they heard about the one done at Maraba Spring, about two kilometers away. After they saw the clean water at Maraba Spring for themselves, they sent in an application for Litali Spring’s protection.
This huge population relies on Litali Spring for their water. This water is used for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and irrigating crops in the dry season. A family makes an average of five to 10 trips to the spring to meet their household needs. When a family has laundry to do, they may make over 15 trips to the spring. Adults carry jerrycans with a capacity of 10-20 liters while children carry three to five-liter jerrycans. They are sure to also bring a small cup or bowl to drip in the water and fill the jerrycan.
Due to open defecation, improper waste disposal and surface runoff, the water is always contaminated. When at the spring we could visibly see baby diapers, kitchen leftovers, and garbage from the local market. Drinking this water results in typhoid and cases of diarrhea, especially in children under the age of five. Parents spend what little savings they have to treat the sickness of both them and their children at the Provincial General Hospital of Kakamega.
Under half of households have a pit latrine. Those observed were made of mud and wooden slats. Young children and the elderly fear to use these because of the need to balance on wooden slats to use the pit. Open defecation is a huge issue in this community. Parents consider their baby’s feces as harmless here, explaining the diapers thrown around the spring. Children are also allowed to relieve themselves wherever they wish. Out of the 118 households, only 20 of them had a place to wash their hands after using the latrine. Some homes have compost pits dug, while the others throw their waste over fences and on the other side of the road.
We met Regina Angaya, a local grandmother who fetches water from the spring for her family. Her picture can be seen under the “See Photos & Video” tab. She said, “This water is not clean and it’s by the mercies of God that we have not died from diarrhea diseases. Children defecate openly and mature people urinate even close to the spring, contaminating the water. We just drink the water with the belief from the Swahili saying that states, ‘maji haina roho mbaya.’ This means ‘water has no bad heart.” Though it may be contaminated, one can still take it believe it will not harm them. Despite this belief, we have continued to suffer from diarrhea diseases. We appeal to you to save this community by giving us clean water.”
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. We will highlight the dangers of open defecation for both adults and children! 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. These five families will have to prepare for the platform by sinking their own latrine pit.
Training will also result in the formation of a water user committee that will oversee and maintain the spring protection. Other training participants will join a group of community health workers who will promote and teach healthy habits to their neighbors.
Locals have already started gathering the materials needed for construction, including sand, ballast, stones, and hard core.
When Litali Spring is protected, community members will be able to spend valuable time that was previously wasted on more constructive activities. Water-related diseases and other infectious diseases that plague the community have resulted in members spending a lot of money on medication; sickness also contributes to a high rate of absenteeism in the local school, resulting in poor academic performance.
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. The sanitation facilities and trainings will also enable, enlighten and build the capacity of the community so that they can take matters into their own hands.
Western Water and Sanitation Forum (WEWASAFO) works together with less privileged and marginalized members of communities in Western Kenya to reduce poverty through harnessing and utilization of local resources for sustainable development.