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).
This unprotected spring is located Esihututo Village, Ebutsyimi sub-location, Emasaba location, Luanda Constituency of Kakamega County. The spring serves 210 people from 25 different households. 98 community members are male and 112 are female.
There are many people drawing water for domestic use. All of this activity stirs up the water beds and contaminates the spring water. The women and children must then wait until the water settles down, wasting economical time that could otherwise be used for farming, childcare, and education. While waiting, these women and children often get into fights about who was there first.
The spring is also subject to run-off composed of dirt and waste. This contamination is what causes cases of typhoid, diarrhea, dysentery, and amoeba-related illnesses in Esihututo Village. The community spends a lot of time and money to treat these waterborne illnesses that could otherwise be avoided. This increases the region's poverty level.
There is no awareness of the effects that farming has on the water catchment area. Fertilizers and pesticides are used in close proximity to the spring, and animals are often found grazing around and drinking from the spring. These animals both contaminate and deplete the water.
Some households have sanitation facilities, but they are in poor condition. Many families that use their latrines must exclude the daughter-in-law, for cultural values stress that she should not share her bathroom with her father-in-law. She must use the bathroom outside instead. During rainy weather, this kind of waste is washed into the spring. Awareness of these negative results must be raised among these traditional families.
Six out of ten households have dish racks like the ones pictured below. Those who do not have dish racks or clotheslines will dry their items on the ground.
The community members are appealing to WEWASAFO to consider them for a spring protection and sanitation platform project.
Water and Sanitation Management Committee Training
This training was held from October 13-14 at Robert Abu's homestead. There were 19 participants out of which 13 were female and six were male. The training's aim was to equip the committee with skills needed to manage and maintain the spring protection project. They also learned about good leadership, group dynamics, record keeping, and funds management.
Mr. Robert Abu began by welcoming everyone to his home. He heard about WEWASAFO through his children who attend Ebwiranyi Primary School where a rainwater harvesting tank and new latrines were constructed. Mr. Abu said that "since water is life, we are ready to contribute whatever materials that is required for construction so that the community can be healthy."
After participating in a role play, the group learned that to make this project a success, they would have to unite and make a contribution of time, effort, and materials. This is the only way they can take ownership and thus feel the importance of sustaining good sanitation and hygiene in the community. After the role play, the group agreed to contribute the following local materials: hardcore, ballast, bricks, clean sand, and fencing poles. They were also willing to host any work teams that would stay in the village during construction.
This committee also was responsible for choosing five households that would benefit most from new sanitation platforms (easy-to-clean concrete latrine floors). These beneficiaries must prepare for their new latrines by digging a 2x3 25-foot-deep pit and preparing clean sand and wall materials.
The group was taken to the spring where they enjoyed a practical session. The facilitator used two different pictures of the spring to elicit two different stories. The group imagined what it would be like to have a contaminated spring (current conditions) and what it would be like to have a protected spring. In the first story, water was made dirty by wild animals, people bathing in the spring, overgrown grass, and improper waste disposal. In the second story, the spring was well-maintained, fenced in, clean, with good drainage channels. The second story is only possible if the committee commits to it, so they agreed to:
- Build a fence to deter animals
- Dig trenches to divert storm water
- Construct gabions to control erosion
- Plant grass around the catchment area
- Avoid farming in the vicinity
- Prevent children from misbehaving near the water
- Pick up waste regularly
- Attend to repairs as soon as possible
- Set up a maintenance fund
But only paying attention to spring protection is not enough to create a disease-free society; the facilitator listed some more causes:
- Unwashed food
- Improper food and water storage
- Not washing hands at important times
- Stagnant water (breeding sites for pests)
- Open defecation
Once the group understood the negative impact of these activities, they were encouraged to make sure they don't become the norm.
The Management Committee chairperson, Mr. David, thanked the organization for their generous support and assistance of his community. He said it had been a dream that his community would someday have safe and clean water. He was so grateful, for he had "never seen a person who gives you safe water and at the same time feeds you."
Community Health Worker Training
The community health worker (CHW) training was held from October 15-16 at Mr. Abu's compound. This workshop drew 12 participants of which eight were female and four were male. This training aimed to equip CHWs with the skills needed to practice and promote good health and hygiene in their community. After training, each CHW is expected to reach out to at least 10 households to sensitize families on what they learned.
The facilitator used various methodologies during training, such as:
- Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD)
- Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS)
- Role plays
- Transect walks
- Focused group discussions
The chairperson of the Water and Sanitation Management Committee, Mr. David, opened training. He let the group know he had just finished the same type of training but for management of the spring protection project, and encouraged the group to take their training with the seriousness it deserves.
The group listed some of the diseases that have been common in the community, such as typhoid, malaria, and dysentery. The facilitator taught about how these complications are transmitted from a source to the host, which built a foundation for talking about prevention. People can form barriers by practicing good hygiene and sanitation, such as: hand-washing and overall physical hygiene, proper handling of food and water, and environmental upkeep. The facilitator demonstrated the proper way to wash hands, and many of the participants realized they had been washing their hands improperly for a long time!
Participants were led on a transect walk through their community, evaluating the sanitation facilities present or lacking in each compound. They looked for compost pits, clotheslines, latrines, bathing rooms, and hand-washing facilities. Facilities are very important because they enable the placement of barriers in the chain of contamination; using a latrine will keep E.coli from moving through water and soil and keep away the flies. Hand-washing facilities will keep hands from transmitting germs.
There was also a session at the spring about handling water properly. Water can be contaminated at three points: at the spring, on the way, and at home. Participants observed both good and bad practices through role plays, and thus agreed to always cover water and keep it stored in a clean place.
The chairperson thanked the organization for teaching yet another training, admitting that his community had been wasting too much time and money to treat the negative results of bad health decisions. He promised to oversee his community in their efforts to observe good hygiene practices.
Protection of Robert Abu Spring is complete and is now in use by community members. The water is no longer open to contamination from surface runoff and human activities. Children and women no longer waste valuable time waiting for the spring's water to clear before the next can step in and fetch. Saved time can be used for more economical activities. When a child saves time in this way, they use it for their studies.
Over time, outbreaks of waterborne diseases will greatly diminish. Children and women were especially affected by sicknesses like diarrhea, typhoid, and dysentery. Families will now be able to save time and money that was used to treat these complications. With these savings, the community is much more equipped to decrease the region's poverty.
Household Sanitation Platforms
Sanitation platforms have been installed and are now in use by beneficiaries. These five families are very happy with their new facilities, which are both safer and easier. Open defecation is no longer evident since community members attended training. Putting up these new latrines was a priority for establishing a community free of open defecation, and the beneficiaries promise to use these new facilities.
Thank You for unlocking potential in the Robert Abu Community.