The people of Shitungu Village wake up very early in the morning prepare their children for school and work on their farms. The community keeps dairy cattle and grows maize, groundnuts, bananas and other vegetables. In addition to that, the men often harvest sand to sell to construction companies to earn a living.
This community is special because the money they earn from dairy farming and crop production allows them to send their children to school.
210 people from about 30 different households all report to rely on Omar Rashid Spring. The water they fetch from here is used for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and watering their crops when it doesn't rain. However, this water source is open to contamination that is causing its drinkers to fall ill. They suffer from diarrhea, headaches, and stomachaches that are often diagnosed as typhoid. And since this water slowly pools at the surface, the area has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes - making malaria a reality for those fetching water on a daily basis.
Mrs. Monica Rashid told us "The water and sanitation condition in this community is very bad. Most of the children and adults suffer from cases of diarrhea and typhoid. Getting clean water for the community has been difficult."
At the time of our visit to Omar Rashid Spring, nobody was fetching water. It was late morning, and everybody was already out working on their farms.
Quite a large number of households don't even have a basic pit latrine. In fact, at least half of them either share a latrine or practice open defecation. Most of the latrines we got to visit were made of wooden slats, mud, and iron sheets. We need to focus on hand-washing during training, because there were no hand-washing stations to be found.
We found lots of clothes drying on bushes and the ground. Extra tools are needed to keep clothes, dishes, and other belongings up off the ground.
Here's what we plan to do about it:
Community members will attend hygiene and sanitation training for at least two days. This training will ensure participants have the knowledge they need about healthy practices and their importance. The facilitator plans to use PHAST (Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation), CLTS (Community-Led Total Sanitation), ABCD (Asset-Based Community Development), group discussions, handouts, and demonstrations at the spring. One of the most important topics we plan to cover is open defecation and its dangers, as well as having and using a pit latrine.
Training will also result in the formation of a committee that will oversee operations and maintenance at the spring. They will enforce proper behavior around the spring and delegate tasks that will help preserve the site, such as building a fence and digging proper drainage. The fence will keep out destructive animals, and the drainage will keep the area’s mosquito population at a minimum.
On the final day of training, participants will select five families that should benefit from new latrine floors.
Training will also inform the community and selected families on what they need to contribute to make this project a success. They must mobilize locally available materials, such as bricks, clean sand, hardcore, and ballast. The five families chosen for sanitation platforms must prepare by sinking a pit for the sanitation platforms to be placed over. All community members must work together to make sure that accommodations and food are always provided for the work teams.
Protecting the spring will ensure that the water is safe, adequate and secure. Construction will keep surface runoff and other contaminants out of the water. With the community’s high involvement in the process, there should be a good sense of responsibility and ownership for the new clean water source.
Fetching water is predominantly a female role, done by both women and young girls. Protecting the spring and offering training and support will therefore help empower the female members of the community by giving them more time and efforts to engage and invest in income-generating activities. Furthermore, there's a mixture of Christians and Muslims in Shitungu. We're excited to see how clean water will bring together both of these religious groups.
This project is a part of our shared program with Western Water And Sanitation Forum (WEWASAFO). Our team is pleased to provide the reports for this project (edited for readability) thanks to the hard work of our friends in Kenya.