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 Elwanga Village, Ebusiralo Sub-Location, Luanda Township, Luanda Sub-County of Vihiga County. It serves a total population of 180 people from 15 different households. 109 of these people are female and 71 are male. Water is collected where the spring emerges out from under a large boulder.
The spring is actually running from a permanent water reservoir located under the boulder. Since the spring is not yet protected, community members are forced to search for a safe source in a faraway village or to buy bottled water. This wastes both time and money that could otherwise be used for economical activities.
The spring is located at a low point in the land. It is subjected to runoff that carries all kinds of waste into the water. People also contaminate the water when they step into it to fetch. If the water is not contaminated at that point, it is often contaminated by the dirty containers that villages often use. Poor water handling has increased the cases of diarrheal diseases in Elwanga Village.
The sanitation situation is also critical. Many households have latrines that are in very poor condition, with floors that are muddy and dangerous.
WEWASAFO observed that the community desperately needs to be trained on hygiene and sanitation. For example, one household near the spring was found to be misusing insecticide-treated nets to fence in their kitchen garden. Many of the spring beneficiaries are storing their water both in the wrong place and dirty containers. They will learn about the proper ways to use mosquito nets and store water from facilitators during training.
The community of Elwanga Village is appealing to WEWASAFO to consider protecting their water source. They believe this spring protection project will not only provide them with safe water, but will educate them about the proper ways to prevent disease and promote good health. The girl child (who is normally tasked with fetching water) and mothers would have adequate, safe, and reliable water if this project is completed. This will save time that is otherwise lost searching for safe water elsewhere.
Water and Sanitation Management Committee Training
The training was held from November 10-11 at a community member's homestead. It was attended by 12 participants with six of each gender. This training aimed to promote ownership of the project and equip the committee with the skills needed to manage and maintain Johnson Mmeri Spring.
The facilitator was pleasantly surprised that most participants were already familiar with the contribution they would need to make in order to complete the project. This was a result of effective mobilization that had been done prior to the workshops. They listed the local materials needed for construction to begin: hardcore, ballast, bricks, clean sand, and fencing poles. The community should also be prepared to host work teams during the process.
The committee also selected five households that were most in need of new sanitation platforms (easy-to-clean concrete latrine floors). These families are then responsible for sinking the latrine pit and providing extra clean sand, bricks, and wall materials.
Members were in agreement on the responsibilities of their Water and Sanitation Committee:
- Plan the project schedule
- Educate the community on hygiene and proper behaviors at the spring, and make rules for this behavior
- Pick up waste
- Repair any damage to the spring
- Register the spring
- Raise funds
- Monitor and evaluate activities at the spring
The committee was taken to the spring for a practical session on how exactly to manage and maintain the project:
- Dig drains to alleviate erosion
- Limit farming in the area
- Build a fence to keep animals out
- Plant grass around the catchment area
- Plant indigenous species
- Enforce proper behavior
Community Health Worker Training
The community health worker (CHW) training was held from November 12-13 immediately after the committee training. It was attended by the committee members, all of which are excited to learn and share more information about good health. The aim of these sessions was to equip participants with the skills needed to practice and promote good hygiene and sanitation behaviors in the community.
The training began with a session on disease transmission. This involves the germs and disease, the environment, and the human host. The group was taken to a kitchen at the spur of a moment, where they observed a normal situation and how much impact it has on health. For example, water containers often doubled as stools or were not covered, dish racks were not used, and the area was unorganized and dirty. Participants learned that disease transmission can be interrupted if only they would practice discernment in how they interact with their environment.
Having observed possible ways that water and food are contaminated, participants were asked to point out what personal and environmental hygiene entail. They were taken around the compound to observe some of the facilities that aid good hygiene. Some of the facilities noted were dish racks, clotheslines, and compost pits.
The group had the opportunity to learn about hand-washing; the important times to wash and the 10 steps to do it thoroughly. One of the CHW's most important responsibilities will be to teach others about hand-washing, because it is one of the most effective disease barriers.
The group elected three members to take the title of CHW. They will be responsible for visiting homes, educating about and making a checklist of the following:
- Sanitation facilities (dish rack, clotheslines, compost pits)
- Latrines and their condition
- Kitchen garden and the use of mosquito nets
- Overall hygiene and sanitation
- Nutritional status
- Family planning
- HIV/AIDS awareness and immunizations
- Water and food storage
Finally, the facilitator used simple math to prove that having proper sanitation facilities constructed is much cheaper than not. Community members can save a great amount of time and money by preventing disease through improved hygiene practices, such as using a latrine.
The protection of Johnson Mmeri Spring is complete and is now in use by community members. The spring now serves more than 30 households! This surge from 15 households is due to the spreading good news of accessible clean water. Safe water from Johnson Mmeri Spring has attracted users from neighboring villages where projects have not yet been implemented. "This new spring has stolen our hearts. It is neat, safe and gives us clean and good water unlike other ones which lack aesthetic beauty making us doubt their water safety," commented one of the women found fetching water at Johnson Mmeri.
The committee has already completed some of the management and maintenance activities they planned during training. They have built a fence, dug drainage, and planted grass and indigenous trees. The majority of people interviewed were happy with the trainings held in the village. A local youth says "The trainings have helped us know how best we need to safeguard our newly built spring. We are also empowered to support the water committee officials in ensuring that the spring is secure, maintained, and sustained." The committee chairperson adds, "We are doing well. Community members are happy and we have not registered any waterborne diseases since we started using water from the protected spring. People no longer have to travel for long distances but instead that time is now used in other development agendas like business, farming, and doing household chores."
Household Sanitation Platforms
Sanitation platforms were installed and are now in use by beneficiaries. Mr. Richard, a leader of one of the lucky homesteads, says he feels much more respected in his community now that his family has their own latrine. He also knows his loved ones are much safer when using these new facilities. Many households have embraced other sanitation facilities as well. These includes clotheslines, dish racks, and compost pits. Madam Joyce Leya was thrilled, saying "I have taken it as a personal responsibility to educate others about the need to have sanitation facilities. Those who are financially shortchanged, I have urged them to use locally available resources to meet their needs."
Thank You for unlocking potential in the Johnson Mmeri Spring Community!