August, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Paulo Juma Mutamba
This post is part of a new series by The Water Project meant to highlight the perspectives and experiences of the people we serve and how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them. We invite you to read more of their stories here.
45-year-old Paulo Juma Mutamba is a farmer and pastor in Mumoli who depends on Marko Mutamba Mumuli Spring for all of hs daily water needs. He also serves as the chair of the spring's water user committee, helping to guide and inspire his community to uphold hygiene standards and best practices at the spring while looking out for its maintenance and care.
Paulo Juma Mutamba at home.
Our team recently visited Mumuli to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point. Shortly after, we returned to check in on the community, offer a COVID-19 refresher training, and ask how the pandemic is affecting their lives.
It was during this most recent visit that Paulo shared his story of how the coronavirus has impacted his life. With his two young children hanging on his every word - and maybe an arm or two - Paulo spoke plainly and patiently about the changes the pandemic has brought to him, his family, and his community.
Video Part 1: Water - Paulo reflects on the changes clean water has brought to his community since the protection of Marko Mutamba Mumuli Spring.
Monitoring and Evaluation Officer Betty Muhongo Likhanga met Paulo outside his home to conduct the interview. Both Betty and Paulo observed social distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. Their questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.
Video Part 2: Training & Prevention - Paulo shares how his community is putting into practice what they learned from our team's COVID-19 sensitization training.
What is one thing that has changed in your community since the protection of Marko Mutamba Mumuli Spring?
"We no longer suffer from waterborne diseases, and it takes less time to draw water unlike when the water point was not installed."
How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?
"The community members have been using the water from the spring to wash their hands and other water uses."
Paulo fetches water from one of the spring's 2 discharge pipes.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Kenya, has fetching water changed for you because of restrictions, new rules, or your concerns about the virus?
"There is no overcrowding at the spring as we need to observe social distancing. The number of times one draws water has also increased as a lot of water is used for handwashing in every household to prevent infection of COVID-19."
Paulo fills his family's handwashing container with water from Marko Mutamba Mumuli Spring.
How has COVID-19 impacted your family?
"Our children are not going to school because of this pandemic. It's also difficult for a parent to have close monitoring of the children, especially teenagers."
What other challenges are you experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
"We are not able to go church which is a challenge, especially for me because I am a pastor."
Paulo washes his hands with soap and clean water from Marko Mutamba Mumuli Spring using the leaky tin handwashing station he set up outside his house.
What hygiene and sanitation steps have you and your community taken to stop the spread of the virus?
"We have improvised handwashing stations at our homes. We have encouraged community members to wash their hands so often for at least 20 seconds."
Camera operator Allan Amadaro talks with Paulo during the interview.
Like most governments around the world, the Kenyan government continues to set and adjust restrictions both nationally and regionally to help control the spread of the disease.
What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?
"Worship places are open, so people can now go to church and worship but while maintaining the rules and regulations put in place."
What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?
"The opening of schools."
Paulo's son was all smiles in front of the camera.
When asked where he receives information about COVID-19, Paulo listed the radio, television, and our team's sensitization training.
What has been the most valuable part of the COVID-19 sensitization training you received from our team?
"One, washing hands so often for at least 20 seconds helps prevent the spread of Covid-19, and two, wearing of masks when visiting social gatherings also helps to prevent the spread of the virus."
May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Mumuli Community, Marko Mutamba Mumuli Spring
Our teams are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us in our fight against the virus while maintaining access to clean, reliable water.
Facilitator teaches the 10 steps of handwashing
We are carrying out awareness and prevention trainings on the virus in every community we serve. Very often, our teams are the first (and only) to bring news and information of the virus to rural communities like Mumuli, Kenya.
Community member addresses the group at training
We trained more than 34 people on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19. Due to public gathering concerns, we worked with trusted community leaders to gather a select group of community members who would then relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.
Community member reads an informational pamphlet on COVID-19
We covered essential hygiene lessons:
- Demonstrations on how to build a simple handwashing station
- Proper handwashing technique
- The importance of using soap and clean water for handwashing
- Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces including at the water point.
Explaining how to observe social distancing while waiting to fetch water at the spring
We covered COVID-19-specific guidance in line with national and international standards:
- Information on the symptoms and transmission routes of COVID-19
- What social distancing is and how to practice it
- How to cough into an elbow
- Alternative ways to greet people without handshakes, fist bumps, etc.
- How to make and properly wear a facemask.
A man holds the reminder chart with prevention measures listed
During training, we installed a new handwashing station with soap near the community’s water point, along with a sign with reminders of what we covered.
Question and answer session
Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we also dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the disease and provide extra information where needed.
The Village Administrator address the group at training
We continue to stay in touch with this community as the pandemic progresses. We want to ensure their water point remains functional and their community stays informed about the virus.
Observing social distancing
Water access, sanitation, and hygiene are at the crux of disease prevention. You can directly support our work on the frontlines of COVID-19 prevention in all of the communities we serve while maintaining their access to safe, clean, and reliable water.