This project is a part of our shared program with Western Water And Sanitation Forum. Our team is pleased to directly share the below report (edited for clarity, as needed).
This unprotected spring is located in Emusoli village, Mwitumbwi sub-location, Mukhalakhala location, Mwivona Ward of Luanda Sub County within Vihiga County. The spring serves 20 households with a total population of 180 people out of which 88 are Men and 92 are women.
The water is used of drinking, cooking and watering animals.
Since the spring is unprotected, it is open to contamination by surface run off and people stepping into the water as they fetch. Animals have no livestock troughs set aside away from the spring for drinking water, so they also drink directly from the water source. These animals step in the water and also release feces in the water thus contaminating the water further.
The fact that the spring is located in a low area means that during the rainy season the surface run off causes soil erosion. This silt blocks the water point and the community cannot access water until all the soil is removed. This leads to women wasting a lot of economical time waiting for the spring to be de-silted. Those who cannot wait opt for other unprotected water sources far away from their homes. Many conflicts arise thereafter in the homes as women delay in serving their families because of walking long distances in search of safe water.
As a result of using contaminated water, the community members reported that they have suffered from many cases of water borne diseases like typhoid, diarrheal and dysentery. Children under five years have been the most affected.
During the rainy season the spring is inaccessible because of the steepness of the path leading to it. At times people have injured themselves by skidding and falling, especially carrying heavy water containers.
Water handling is also a big issue as few people reported handling water properly and this has also contributed to spread of diseases as water is covered neither on the way home or at home.
Sanitation in this community is wanting as many people have no good latrines and those who have none usually use the bush. The feces is washed into the spring when it rains since it is unprotected. Open defecation was evident as the WASH team went down the spring to collect water samples for analysis.
The community members are appealing to WEWASAFO to consider them and protect the spring and construct for then sanitation facilities so that they can reduce cases of water borne diseases.
Water Sanitation and Management Committee Training
The Water Sanitation and Management Committee training, aimed at equipping the water spring committee members with knowledge and skills on operational and maintenance issues of the spring, was conducted at Opwole spring. This spring is located in Vihiga County, Emuhaya constituency, Mukhalakhala location.
The training was conducted on the 14th and 15th of July 2015 at the water spring. The training was attended by a total of 22 participants out of which 14 were men and 8 women. In attendance was a village elder that represented the government, three WEWASAFO staff and 19 members of the community.
WEWASAFO KEY RESULT AREAS
The training officer introduced Western Water and Sanitation Forum as a Non- Governmental Organization based in Western Kenya with its head quarters in Kakamega town at Ambwere complex 2nd floor room 6 and a satellite office in Vihiga County. The organization works with less privileged members of the community to reduce poverty through use of local resources.
They were also informed about the four key projects run by the organization as:
- Water and Sanitation (WASH) Department
- Gender and Governance
- Sustainable Agriculture and Food security
- Micro- Finance
Participants were taken through the objectives of the project as follows:
1. To improve access to safe and clean drinking water
2. To increase access to sound sanitation facilities for the community, especially women and children
3. To improve sustainability of wash activities
4. Improve on sanitation and hygiene practices in the community
The following were the WSMC workshop objectives:
1. To equip committee members with relevant skills and knowledge for operation and maintenance of the water point.
2. Facilitate acquisition and development of relevant management and leadership skills for communities to be self reliant.
3. To enhance community capacity to effectively monitor and supervise water catchment area and health education activities in their villages.
4. To equip community with skills to collect funds and keep proper records for operation and maintenance of water facilities.
The facilitator also highlighted the safe practices to be implemented by community members to ensure the spring is well maintained.
Participants agreed on the following in order to maintain their springs:
- Digging cut-off drains around the spring to avoid soil deposition from erosion into the spring
- Leaving the spring cement to dry for two days before use of water
- Planting grass around the spring to avoid soil erosion.
- Planting indigenous trees around the spring to conserve the spring catchment points.
- Fencing the spring to avoid cows and children contaminating the water.
- Prohibit supporting water baskets on the water outlet pipe to avoid damaging water pipe.
- Prohibit bathing or washing around the spring.
- Avoid open defecation and urinating around the spring.
The facilitator encouraged all the beneficiaries to take responsibility of taking care of the spring and ensure that the spring is well maintained so as to last long.
The culture of Bunyore sub-tribe of Luhya community was honored in spring protection process by Mr. Thomas (an old man) who said a blessing in their traditional way and led in the ground breaking ceremony at the site.
Roles and Responsibilities of the Water User Committee Officials
The participants were put into two groups where they discussed the general functions of the WUC committee and reported the following:
- To monitor the progress of the spring during construction and after- Ensure activities of the spring construction are implemented as planned
- Ensure local materials are available at site for the water spring construction.
- Manage the spring and ensure the spring is maintained
- Keep records for the Spring
Members of the community defined water pollution through brainstorming as contamination of the water by surrounding factors.
They listed the following activities that lead to spring pollution:
- Bathing at the spring
- Urinating in water
- Cultivating around the spring catchment.
Community members agreed that water pollution has been a major problem in Mukhalakhala village. They identified the following as the main causes of water pollution in the community:
- Grazing/herding of animals around the spring.
- Mining around the water point.
- Bathing near the spring.
- Soil erosion.
- Agricultural activities around the spring which led to chemical disposal.
- Planting water consuming trees next to springs e.g. blue gum
Committee members were urged to ensure that these activities do not take place around the spring to curb water pollution.
They were also asked to make rules that will guide users of the water point so that in case of any infringement, a fine is to be paid by the offender.
Water-borne and Water-Related diseases
The following water borne diseases were identified by the participants as diseases that were affecting the community around the spring:
Participants agreed that some of the causes of the above listed diseases were as a result of the following factors:
- Stagnant waters (breeding sites for mosquitos)
- Drinking of contaminated/unprotected water
- Using of bushes as toilets
- Not washing fruits and food before eating
- Building latrines near water source
Prevention of Water-borne and Water-Related diseases
The facilitator explained that these diseases were a result of dirty and contaminated water.
Participants agreed that these diseases could be easily avoided by implementing proper hygiene and sanitation practices to the help curb water contamination. These practices included:
- Keeping the compound clean
- Treatment of water/boiling
- Chlorination of drinking water
- Covering food
- Cooking food properly before eating
- Washing hands before cooking, before eating, after visiting the toilet and after changing baby diapers.
Funds collection and management
Fund collection was integral to participants who in unison agreed to be contributing certain amounts of money monthly to be used for maintenance of the water spring.
Some sources for funding as highlighted by the facilitator to the participants were:
- Creating income generating activities such as poultry and banana farming
- Undertaking merry-go-round or table banking within the group (a local fund-sharing system often used in rural communities)
- Application for loans
The WUC was told to ensure every coin was put proper use such as spring repairs, spring fencing, register group, opening a joint bank account for the group or start income generating activities to name but a few.
Through brainstorming the participants listed some of the records that are to be kept by the water user committee:
- Spring construction details/material contribution by WEWASAFO and community
- Members/Household contributions
- Minutes of group meetings
- Group registration details
- Shares/membership contributions
Participants were taken through the importance of keeping records as follows:
- For future reference
- To understand the progress of the group
- To enhances accountability and transparency of the work done.
The treasurer and the secretary were to be responsible for record keeping on behalf of the group. The community members were urged to be vigilant at all times and to verify the records kept.
Community Health Workers Training
Community health workers training for Opwole spring was conducted between 16th and 17th of July 2015 at the land owner's home. Opwole spring is located in Ebwiranyi Village, Mukhalakhala location of Emuhaya constituency within Vihiga County.
The training was attended by a total number of 22 participants, out which 13 were men and 9 women. Representation included community members, two government representatives and three WEWASAFO staff.
The training was aimed at equipping the participants with relevant skills for promoting good hygiene practices in the villages and at the spring. This in the long run will reduce the rates of water borne disease out breaks.
Training methodology included Participatory approaches, CLTS (Community Lead Total Sanitation) and group discussions.
CHW Training Objectives
Participants were taken through the main objectives of Community health workers training as:
- To enable participants to be resource persons in facilitation and dissemination of hygiene messages to the rest of the community.
- To increase and equip participants' knowledge on hygiene promotion activities.
- To develop basic communication skills for community work.
Hygiene practices that will help reduce Water and Food contamination
Participants listed the following what they considered as safe hygiene practices that would ensure a healthy society and reduce water borne diseases:
- Constructing latrines
- Washing food before eating/cooking
- Treating or boiling drinking water
- Washing hands properly after every toilet use and before eating
- Covering foods
Role of Community Health Promoters
The participants were taken through their roles in hygiene promotion as follows:
- Making spring visits
- Attending public meetings
- Visiting churches
- Visiting Health centers
- Making at least 10 home visits
During the above visits they were to educate the community on having:
- Dish racks
- Compost pits
- Cloth lines
- Clean latrines
- Bathing rooms
- Removing stagnant waters
- Nutrition and diet
- Family planning /Immunization
- Kitchen gardens
- HIV/AIDS awareness
Results of the Project:
Protection of Opwole spring is completed and now is being used by the community members.
The community members are now very happy that their spring is no longer open to contamination by surface run off after protection and they no longer have to step in the water as they fetch it. Many conflicts no longer arise in the homes as women do not delay in serving their families since they access safer water within their reach. Cases of water borne diseases like typhoid, diarrheal and dysentery are expected to reduce since the community members are now drinking safe water from the spring.
Household sanitation platforms
Household sanitation platforms (cement slabs for latrine construction) have been installed for the community members who benefitted from them and are now using them.
Rita one of the slab beneficiaries really thanked The Water Project for casting a slab for her family. She admitted that they can now use the toilet as opposed to the previous situation where they were forced to use the bush. Hygiene and Sanitation has improved in their home.