There's a lot of activity in Jivovoli before the sun's up.
Women rise early to prepare breakfast before the children have to run to school. After the children are off, women go to the spring to fetch water, wash the breakfast utensils, and then go to their farms or smaller gardens. They return home to prepare lunch, since most students are sent back home anywhere from noon to 1pm for an hour's break. Women take what they've gotten from their gardens to sell in the local market once the children are back to school for afternoon classes.
Meanwhile, men either help their wives on the farm or sit around waiting to hear about work. There's a high unemployment rate here.
Gideon Asonga Spring serves 30 different families living in the area, who use its water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. The spring pools to the surface where it's entirely open to contamination. It's especially bad after rainwater washes all of the nearby garbage, dirt, and waste into the water. We even saw a girl getting water from the spring's drainage, where it's even muddier.
People bring their containers and dunk them under the surface until full. Whenever these 20-liter or smaller containers are emptied another trip is due because most families are unable to afford any larger storage containers at home.
After drinking this water, people suffer from typhoid and other waterborne illnesses.
Sanitation is a big issue in this community. The local church has even taken time to teach about good sanitation practices, but it hasn't been successful.
There aren't enough latrines for the number of families here; each household doesn't have their own. Without a latrine, people are going in the privacy of bushes. The latrines we observed are in poor condition - the pits are almost full, and maggots are seen crawling along the floor.
Few people have a dedicated place for personal hygiene, and instead bathe in the bushes nearby the spring. What they don't realize is that their wastewater flows right back down the hill into their drinking water.
As Mr. Absalom Asonga showed us around his community.
"This community has suffered a lot due to the unprotected spring that is contaminated and exposes them to dirty water-related diseases. They also lack enough knowledge about how to stay in a clean environment," he said.
Here's what we're going 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 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.
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.
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.