The people of Masera Community wake up very early in the morning to help their children get ready for school and work on their farms. The community is special because they are able to pay for their children's education through their farming and dairy work. It is a community that not only works hard, but works smart.
People keep dairy cattle, grow maize, groundnuts, cassava, bananas and other vegetables. Making bricks is another economic activity that is vibrant in the area, owing to many construction work projects nearby. A good number of households also have wood on their properties. They harvest and then sell this resource for a great price.
The people living in Masera find their water at springs that have flowed to the surface. These sources are entirely open to contamination from the surrounding environment.
Ernest Mumbo Spring is one of these. Each day, hundreds from the area bring their containers to dunk under the water's surface, filling them with dirty water to use for drinking, cooking, and cleaning.
This water is getting people sick, especially the young children and elderly who suffer most from dehydrating diarrhea.
Quite a large number of homes still don't have their own pit latrines. People are forced to share these facilities. When sharing isn't appropriate, people look for privacy in dense vegetation. This improper waste disposal is endangering the health of all community members.
There are no hand-washing stations here, and there's only an occasional dish rack or clotheslines to dry things safely off the ground.
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. The building and usage of new latrines and hand-washing stations 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.