A normal day in Ataku Community begins at 5am when a few children are seen helping their parents with household chores before they go to school.
There are some families that are able to prepare breakfast for their children, but other families cannot. No breakfast makes life difficult for these children, who attend classes with an empty stomach - resulting in poor academic performance. Often at the age of twelve, children are taken to urban centers to work as house or farm help.
Ataku Spring serves more than 20 different households here. During the dry months, people from other areas make the walk to get water from Ataku Spring - it does not dry up. It's the only source of water here and so families must use it for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and all their other needs, even though it's contaminated.
People use containers, big and small, to fetch water. The spring is too shallow and muddy to fill a large container in one dunk. Normally a large container is dunked under the surface and filled as much as possible. Then, a smaller container is used to make up the difference.
"Last month, my mother had typhoid. I have not been able to go to school because the money that I was to use for a school fee was spent on my mother's medication," 16-year-old Esther told us.
Less than half of the 20 households using this spring have their own pit latrine. People are actually sharing a few latrines among themselves and most are overused and in pathetic condition. The walls are made of mud and wood, while boards and logs are suspended over the pit.
There are even fewer clotheslines, dish racks, and hand-washing stations here.
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.