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).
Nuru Okumbe spring is located in Ebukuya Samaria Village, Mwitumbwi sub-location, Mukhalakhala location, Mwivona Ward, Luanda sub-county in Vihiga County. The spring serves 50 households totaling 400 people out of which 100 are men and 300 are women. The spring's water is used for drinking, cooking, washing, and watering the animals.
This spring is contaminated surface run-off and human activities, such as people stepping into the water as they fetch. The water becomes contaminated after constant fetching, and beneficiaries have to wait until the water settles to draw again. This leads to loss of economical time that would otherwise be used to farm or take care of the children.
Henry, the chairperson of the spring's committee says, "Our women and girls in Ebukuya Village spend up to four hours per day fetching water; without this burden, women could increase their agricultural farm yields by 20-30%."
The spring is almost impossible to access during rainy weather since it is at the bottom of a steep bank. Rainwater floods the spring and muddies the water to a great extent.
Community members report that they suffer from many cases of waterborne illnesses such as typhoid, diarrhea, and dysentery as a result from drinking water from Nuru Okumbe spring.
Sanitation is also a big problem. Many households lack a safe and clean latrine, which especially deters children and elderly. They have no other choice but use the privacy of bushes for bathroom purposes. When it rains, this waste is also washed into the spring.
Water and Sanitation Management Committee
The Water and Sanitation Management Committee training was held at Mr. Lazarus Okumbe's homestead from October 13-14. The training was attended by 19 people of which 13 were male and six were female. The village elder opened training encouraging participants by saying, "I urge you dear village members to embrace the project and cooperate well with the facilitators during the training."
The facilitator familiarized the group with what would be expected of them during the project. They are expected to contribute 20% of the resources needed for construction of the spring protection and sanitation platforms (easy-to-clean concrete latrine floors). They will also be responsible for managing and maintaining the project. They were also encouraged to supply the following materials before the construction could begin: clean sand, bricks, ballast, and hardcore.
The group also voted on who in the community would most benefit from the sanitation platforms. They could choose five households, and each of those households would be responsible for digging their own latrine pit.
The committee agreed on their responsibilities:
- Repair the spring as needed
- Buy any extra necessary materials
- Maintain the spring
- Organize educational activities
The facilitator also led a practical session at the spring. Participants were taken through some tasks that need to be done in order to maintain the project:
- Plant indigenous trees
- Dig proper drainage
- Fence in the spring area
- Regularly clean the water pipe
- Enforce rules for proper behavior around and at the spring
Some important rules would be, for example: no farming, playing, bathing or washing around the spring, or no constructing latrines in the vicinity.
The participants thanked the organization for their good leadership during the workshop. They said it was both enjoyable and educational, building a great foundation for the project's sustainability. The landowner, Mr. Okumbe, said that it was a rare opportunity to have a project in his community because they had been neglected so long for any assistance. He encouraged the participants to work, change, and move together to make sure that everyone always has access to clean water. The committee looks forward to working on an agreed schedule for this project.
Community Health Workers Training
This training was conducted from October 15-16 at the landowner's homestead. A total of 14 participants attended training of which nine were male and five were female. The training aimed to equip community health workers (CHW) with the relevant skills necessary to reduce the rate of the waterborne diseases affecting their 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.
The group was led around their community on a transect walk. During this walk, they observed different households and pointed out both the bad and the good sanitation situations. They evaluated sanitation facilities such as latrines, clotheslines, compost pits, dish racks, and bathing rooms.
The group then voted on who among them would take on the official role of CHW. Their role is to promote good hygiene, and includes the following responsibilities:
- Attend public meetings in order to transmit knowledge
- Make at least 10 separate home visits to educate families
- Visit health centres to learn more
The facilitator also led sessions on proper water and food handling.
Mr. Lazarus, the owner of the spring, thanked all of the participants for their attendance and participation. He said the training was very informative and would transform the community. He also requested that when available, WEWASAFO should return and implement even more projects.
Protection of Nuru Okumbe Spring is complete and now in use by the community. The spring is even accessible during the rainy seasons! People used to slip down the dangerous, muddy slope, but now the staircase ensures safe descent. The spring will no longer be contaminated by surface runoff, and people will no longer be able to step into the water while fetching. This muddied the water, and people had to wait several minutes for the water to refresh. All of these improvements will save women and children valuable economical time.
Household Sanitation Platforms
Sanitation platforms have been installed and are now in use by five different households. The children and elderly are happy to use the new facilities because they are much safer.
Community members are very happy and satisfied with this project. Thank You!