A normal day in Elukani Village starts with everybody waking up and getting busy right away to ensure that by the end of the day, they'll have something to put on the table. Men are seen carrying hoes to their gardens and farms, while women fetch water and then make breakfast. Breakfast is packed up and taken to the men as children eat and rush to school. For the rest of the day, women either join the men on their farms or take leftover produce to sell in the local market.
At the end of the day, children rush to fetch water for their families. The women prepare dinner. The children hurry back to their homes to do homework before it gets dark, since they are not always guaranteed a lighting source.
Ongari Spring serves around 25 different families in Elukani. It's water is used to meet all the community's needs from drinking to watering crops when there's no rain. The spring is open to contamination from many different sources, but there's no clean water alternative. The water is at its worst after it rains, with dirt, garbage and feces having been washed into the spring.
Women and children carry jerrycans or buckets along with a smaller cup to bail water. Families haven't been able to afford water storage at home, so water's used straight from the fetching container. This means that trips to Ongari Spring are taken several times a day.
After drinking this water, community members suffer from severe diarrhea. When they can afford treatment they do so, but that leaves them with little to no money to pay for school, clothes, and other things.
Less than half of the homes here have a pit latrine, and the majority of these are in bad shape. We saw some full of maggots that had made it up to the latrine floor. Some don't even have doors. Because of this low coverage and poor conditions, open defecation is a big issue here. People would rather use the privacy of brush.
There are no hand-washing stations and very few sanitation tools like dish racks and clotheslines. Instead, we found dishes and clothes hanging on bushes or drying on the ground. Though there isn't a special container for hand-washing, community members assure that they at least rinse their hands before a meal. "We do not wash our hands with soap frequently after visiting the toilet since at times the soap is not even available, and we are too busy. We only remember to wash hands when it's time for eating," a woman told us.
Mr. Ezron Ongaya said, "This community is comprised of poor people, so you can imagine treating diseases that could be prevented, with money that could have been directed elsewhere is a big problem. We would gladly embrace any means that would help curb this problem and make people live healthy without worries of catching diseases. They say prevention is better than cure, if only this spring would be well-protected and my people taught ways of how to stay healthy, we would be better placed both economically and health-wise."
Here’s what we plan to do about it:
Community members will attend hygiene and sanitation training to give them a chance to learn 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 the handling, storage, and treatment of water. Having a clean water source will be extremely helpful, but it is useless if water gets contaminated by the time it’s consumed.
Hand-washing will also be a big topic. And since open defecation was encountered here, this is at the top of our list of things to address. Waste always needs to be disposed of properly, or else it will be spread by flies or rainwater.
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.
Training will inform the committee and the rest of the community about 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. All community members must work together to make sure that accommodations and food are always provided for the work teams.
On the final day of training, participants will select five families that should benefit from new latrine floors. The five families must prepare by sinking a pit for the sanitation platforms to be placed over.
Our artisans will protect the spring and ensure that the water is safe, adequate and secure. Construction will keep surface runoff and other contaminants out of the water.
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 female community members by giving them more time and efforts to engage and invest in income-generating activities.
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 (formatted and edited for readability) thanks to the hard work of our friends in Kenya.