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).
Those living in Simboyi Village are all from the Maragoli sub-tribe of the Luyha tribe. Everyone in this area grows avocados and tea leaves, and some of the farms are still dotted with coffee trees. All of these crops are harvested to earn a living. Firing bricks is also an effective way for many men to earn money.
We discovered this spring during a project at Simboyi Primary School. Before the parents, students and teachers had a rainwater catchment tank, they would fetch water from this unprotected spring. When we visited the spring they were using, we realized just how many people were drinking its contaminated water.
Simboyi Village is adjacent to Inyail Village. The total population across this area is 1300 people from approximately 120 households. (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.)
Imbiru Spring is located on Mr. Simon Ingweno’s land in Simboyi Village, Kigama of North Maragoli in Sabatia of Vihiga County. This unprotected spring serves approximately 120 households from Simboyi and Inyali villages. According to 75 year-old village elder Mr. Javan Asava, “These users from both villages can add up to at least 1300 people, not to mention pupils of Simboyi Primary School who used to come for water from this spring before they got the tank from TWP through WEWASAFO.”
People have to carefully walk down a steep pathway to the spring. Each person brings a small cup that they can dip in the spring to bail water and fill their water container, which is normally as large as they can carry. Whoever filled the large container will need help to get it back up the steep slope. The water is then brought home and used for drinking, cooking, bathing, and watering animals.
When home, water is separated into different containers by use. Drinking water is kept in covered pots either in the kitchen or living room. The rest of the water is dumped in larger plastic barrels and saved for cleaning and watering animals.
We know that Imbiru Spring is contaminated because of the numerous reports of waterborne disease. Our visit to the spring confirmed this fact; the water is out in the open with no barriers to protect it from erosion, surface runoff, and animals. People even step into the water to fetch it, or dip their hands in while filling the water jugs. The water is very turbid.
Not all homes have their own pit latrine. These are made of mud and logs are suspended across the ground. These are smelly, since the logs used for the floors are near impossible to clean. Open defecation is an issue in this area, and the village elder has already been making a list to hold those people accountable.
We found three hand-washing stations among this entire population, and only one had soap available. Mr. Enos Eboso is one of those who had built his family a hand-washing station outside the latrine. Around half of households had other helpful sanitation facilities like dish racks or clotheslines.
Households are already practicing proper waste disposal. All of them collect leftovers to feed their animals, while even the animal waste is collected for fertilizer. Trash is separated between pits for composting and pits for burning.
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.
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.
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 Alice Bukusa, a local farmer who has been using the spring for years. “There was a time we experienced serious diarrhea as a result of drinking raw water from this source. Protecting the spring will be a big step toward attaining safe and clean water,” she said.
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.