This project is a part of our shared program with Western Water And Sanitation Forum. Our team is pleased to directly share the report below (edited for clarity, as needed).
This unprotected spring is located in Esibakala Village, Ipali Sub-Location of Esibakala Location, Emuhaya West Ward of Vihiga County. The spring is approximately 300 meters from the Esibakala Primary School.
The spring serves over 25 households, but also serves 815 primary students from the nearby school. Students run to this spring to collect water because it is the only alternative water source near the school. (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. We look forward to the day that the Esibakala Primary School Project is complete!) Information gathered from community members and school administration affirm that Margret Spring is constant even through the dry seasons.
Margret Spring is open to contamination from surface runoff and the activity of both human and animal. Community members have to step into the water as they fetch, as do animals as they drink. This erodes the spring's banks and muddies the water.
Though the spring's yield is constant, community members sometimes struggle to fetch its water during bad weather. The spring is located at the bottom of a steep bank, so rainy seasons make it difficult for people, especially children, to navigate the terrain.
As a result of this unprotected spring, community members report that they have suffered from many cases of waterborne illnesses such as typhoid, dysentery, and diarrhea-causing. Children are most affected by water's contamination.
The sanitation situation is also critical. A few households have latrines, but the latrines observed were in dangerous disrepair. Both children and the elderly avoid using the community's old latrines for fear of falling through the slats. It was apparent that those who do not use the latrines instead use the privacy of banana plantations or the shade of buildings. This attracts a lot of flies to the community, and these flies are effective disease transmitters. The Margret Spring community will greatly benefit from learning about the chains of contamination. Health, sanitation, and hygiene training on handling water and waterborne disease topics using the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) method will be key in this village.
Margret Spring is a prime location for a protection project, as it serves both community members and students. If this spring remains unprotected, cases of waterborne illnesses will continue to increase. Students and community members not only waste time fetching water, but also waste time treating these illnesses! The spring users deserve their right to health, confidence, and a prolonged life.
Water and Sanitation Management Committee Training
The training was held from November 10-11. A total of 17 people attended of which eight were male and nine were female. The training aimed to equip the committee with the tools needed for effective management and maintenance of the spring.
The community members were briefed on the local necessary contributions for completion of spring protection and sanitation platforms. They committee is responsible for finding clean sand, ballast, hardcore, bricks, and fencing poles. Making a contribution ensures that the entire community will feel ownership of the project and thus will invest more in its sustainability.
The committee also voted on the five households most in need of new sanitation platforms (easy-to-clean concrete latrine floors). The beneficiaries must prepare by digging a pit for the platform to cover.
The committee agreed to take on the following responsibilities:
- Ensure all local materials are prepared
- Manage and maintain the water source
- Repair the spring when necessary
- Put up a fence around the spring
- Kick start income-generating activities
- Register the committee
- Formulate rules for proper conduct around the spring
- Keep records of spring users and activities in the vicinity
The facilitator then took the group members to the spring to elaborate on the tasks necessary for management and maintenance of the site:
- Forbid children playing
- No open defecation
- No washing or bathing in the water
- No farming in the area
- Plant indigenous species
- Dig terraces to drain stagnant water
- No latrines within 50 meters
The facilitator also included sessions on proper water and food handling. Food should be washed before cooked, covered after cooked, water should be treated, etc.
Community members appreciated the training and were grateful that their community would soon have clean water.
Community Health Workers Training
The Community Health Workers (CHW) training was held from October 12-13. It was attended by 17 people out of which eight were male and nine were female. The aim of this training was to equip CHWs with the relevant skills for promoting good health and sanitation practices in their greater community.
The group brainstormed a list of these waterborne diseases, including malaria, cholera, and dysentery. The facilitator transitioned to explaining the chain of contamination; how these diseases are transmitted from a germ source to humans. Many of these links can be broken when good sanitation and hygiene is practiced.
Some of the other sessions covered over the two days include topics such as:
- Importance of sanitation facilities
- Handling food and water
- Clean homes
The group also agreed on their role as CHWs. They will have responsibilities such as:
- Educate the greater community about the importance of sanitation facilities
- Follow and teach good nutrition
- Clean around the spring
- Visit local health centres to learn more
Four group members were chosen to oversee these endeavors.
The chairperson greatly appreciated this training session, trusting that if the community puts what they learned into practice, their living standards will improve.
The protection work for Margret Spring has been completed and is now in use by community members. Initially this spring was also used by nearby Esibakala Primary School students because they didn't have any alternative. But now, Esibakala has its own source of water: a 30,000 liter rainwater harvesting tank. Having two water sources has alleviated great pressure.
Community members now trust the spring's water for drinking and all of their other needs, and have already noticed a huge improvement in water quality. They also trust that the trained water committee will keep this project functional and will enforce good behavior and stewardship of the spring and its water. In fact, no more cases of waterborne diseases have been reported since this project's completion!
There is also a good flow of water from the catchment spout, eliminating long lines at the spring. Easy access to the spring has already saved women and children lots of time that is now used for more economical activities.
Household Sanitation Platforms
The five sanitation platforms have been installed and are now in use by community members. All five have even been fitted with four walls! Beneficiaries express their gratitude saying, "My family members are safe and feel good while using the newly installed pit latrine." The also add that the slabs are strong and easy to keep clean.
The community members cannot hide the joy that results from having clean water. They believe it will go a long way in reducing rates of waterborne diseases. Good health is certainly a solid foundation for a more prosperous community!
Thank You for making all of this possible. We couldn't have done it without you!