It is the women who wake up earliest in the morning to prepare for the day. They prepare their children for school before starting other chores like collecting firewood, washing clothes, sweeping, farming and fetching water from the unprotected spring.
Most people in the community are involved in farming. They grow maize, beans, ground nuts, vegetables, bananas, sweet potatoes, sugarcane and cassava. They also keep cattle, sheep and goats. Men are involved in making bricks to sell to the numerous construction projects going on nearby.
Some people have small retail shops from where other community members buy their household items. The people living in this community profess either Islam or Christianity.
It takes people about 30 minutes to get to the spring. On some occasions, there are so many people already there waiting to draw water. This means that the women spend a number of hours between getting to and waiting at the water source. What's worse is that all this effort and time is spent just for dirty water, since there's no alternative in the area.
When a person first arrives at the spring, they use a small container to scrape the surface, removing all algae and other floating debris. Once it appears clearer, they'll use their small bowls to fill their larger jerrycans.
The village elder and people themselves recounted constant struggles with water and hygiene-related illnesses. Mrs. Farida Salim said, "Since I was born, this spring has served many people. However, it has also been neglected for a long time, for not much has been done to protect the water. You have come at the right time. The day our water is protected will be one of the happiest days of my life."
Less than half of households have their own pit latrines made of mud and old rusty iron sheets. A few households have set up the same kind of iron sheets to form a bathing shelter. None, however, have a dedicated place to wash hands after using the latrine or before eating a meal. Very few people use dish racks and clotheslines, with the rest letting their items dry out on the dirty 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. 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.