October, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Anne Nyongesa
This post is part of a new series by The Water Project meant to highlight the perspectives and experiences of the people we serve and how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them. We invite you to read more of their stories here.
Our team recently visited Sharambatsa to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point, Mihako Spring. Shortly after, we returned to check in on the community, offer a COVID-19 refresher training, and ask how the pandemic is affecting their lives.
It was during this most recent visit that Anne Nyongesa, a 42-year-old farmer, shared her story of how the coronavirus is impacting her life and her community.
Anne Nyongesa outside her home
Field Officer Lillian Achieng' met Anne outside her home to conduct the interview. Both Lillian and Anne observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Anne's story, in her own words.
What is one thing that has changed in your community since the completion of the water project?
"We now have clean water. We can fetch the water any time of the day and during any season. Before the spring was protected, fetching water during the rainy season was more challenging due to pollution."
Anne fetching water at Mihako Spring with her daughters
How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?
"The availability of clean water has helped a big deal during this pandemic where we have to wash our hands regularly. We are able to access enough water for washing our hands to keep the virus at bay."
Anne washing her hands with soap and clean water from the spring using the handwashing station she set up outside her home.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Kenya, has fetching water changed for you because of restrictions, new rules, or your concerns about the virus?
"Fetching water has not changed for me since our spring is so high-yielding and so we don't have to crowd at the spring. The restrictions haven't affected fetching water."
Anne's daughter Faith washing her hands at home.
How has COVID-19 impacted your family?
"I was a small business operator before COVID-19 struck. Markets being closed due to the restrictions really affected my life since I can no longer fend for my family. I am forced to look around for casual labor like weeding people's farms to earn a living. My children no longer eat well. The children have also been affected by the closure of schools."
Anne helping her daughter Terry put her mask on
What other challenges are you experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
"The pandemic has denied us our freedom. We no longer can mingle like we used to do. Our burial ceremonies and weddings have changed since the number of attendees has been limited and so has the time."
Anne and Terry wearing their masks.
What hygiene and sanitation steps have you and your community taken to stop the spread of the virus?
"We have been able to put handwashing stations in our homes, we wear masks when stepping out of our homesteads, and we also avoid unnecessary travels."
Like most governments around the world, the Kenyan government continues to set and adjust restrictions both nationally and regionally to help control the spread of the virus.
What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?
"I was happy to have the churches reopened, even if it meant the number of attendees was restricted."
Portrait of Anne
What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?
"I am still looking forward to seeing schools reopened."
When asked where she receives information about COVID-19, Anne listed the radio and our team's sensitization training.
What has been the most valuable part of the COVID-19 sensitization training you received from our team?
"The most helpful part during the training was the information on handwashing where the trainer informed us that the normal bar soap was able to remove the COVID-19 virus if used well to wash hands. Initially, I had thought that sanitizers were more effective and since I could not afford them, I felt less fortunate fighting this pandemic."
May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Sharambatsa Community, Mihako Spring
Our teams are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us in our fight against the virus while maintaining access to clean, reliable water.
We are carrying out awareness and prevention trainings on the virus in every community we serve. Very often, our teams are the first (and only) to bring news and information of the virus to rural communities like Sharambatsa, Kenya.
We trained more than 12 people on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19. Before there were any reported cases in the area, we worked with trusted community leaders and the Water User Committee to gather community members for the training.
We covered essential hygiene lessons:
- Demonstrations on how to build a simple handwashing station
- Proper handwashing technique
- The importance of using soap and clean water for handwashing
- Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces including at the water point.
We covered COVID-19-specific guidance in line with national and international standards:
- Information on the symptoms and transmission routes of COVID-19
- What social distancing is and how to practice it
- How to cough into an elbow
- Alternative ways to greet people without handshakes, fist bumps, etc.
- How to make and properly wear a facemask.
During training, we installed a new handwashing station with soap near the community’s water point, along with a sign with reminders of what we covered.
Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we also dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the disease and provide extra information where needed.
We continue to stay in touch with this community as the pandemic progresses. We want to ensure their water point remains functional and their community stays informed about the virus.
Water access, sanitation, and hygiene are at the crux of disease prevention. You can directly support our work on the frontlines of COVID-19 prevention in all of the communities we serve while maintaining their access to safe, clean, and reliable water.
July, 2019: Giving Update: Sharambatsa Community, Mihako Spring
A year ago, your generous donation enabled us to protect Mihako Spring for Sharambatsa Community in Kenya. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow our local teams to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the water project over time. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories. Read more…
May, 2018: Sharambatsa Community Has Clean Water
Sharambatsa Community now has clean water! Mihako Spring has been transformed into a flowing source of clean water thanks to your donation. The spring is protected from contamination, five sanitation platforms have been provided for the community, and training has been given in sanitation and hygiene.
The community members were informed early on of all the project requirements, which entailed assembling local construction materials and selecting a Water and Sanitation Management Committee that would be trained on maintenance and management of the spring. One of the elected committee members went house to house inviting everyone to attend a more general community hygiene and sanitation training. Because good hygiene and sanitation are important, Esther Luvale urged that at least one representative come from each household.
The weather was sunny and hot. Considering this, the beneficiaries agreed to conduct training under a tree in Esther's compound so that they could enjoy the cool breeze as they learned. This venue was also close to the spring site so we could walk over and conduct care and management demonstrations. Attendance was good, though the men were few in number. This was because they were assisting the skilled artisan by ferrying local materials, mixing concrete, and casting sanitation platforms.
We covered several topics including leadership and governance; operation and maintenance of the spring; healthcare; family planning; immunizations; the spread of disease and prevention. We also covered water treatment methods, personal care like handwashing, environmental hygiene, hygiene promotion, and many other things.
The trainer demonstrates how to brush your teeth the right way.
The dental hygiene information was especially useful for this community. People had a false understanding of dental hygiene, including a baby's teething stage. They believed symptoms of teething are diarrhea and fever. They also told us that they always solved this problem by putting herbal medicine on the gums of the child. Others would force the teeth out using crude tools which could lead to HIV infections. The trainer was able to teach that these children are actually getting diarrhea because of their need to chew on things, no matter the cleanliness of those things.
Participants were grateful for the session on handwashing too. Whenever they'd wash their hands after visiting the latrine, they'd dunk their hands in a bucket of water. We taught that handwashing should be done with flowing water and soap, which should be done not only after using the latrine, but after changing a baby's diaper, before cooking, and before eating meals.
"I will not forget the training that these young ladies have taught us. In the past, I never knew that loss of teeth is not a sign of old age, but of poor oral hygiene," Mrs. Margret Makayi said.
"I've lost several, but with this information, I won't be losing teeth anymore!"
All five sanitation platforms have been installed. These five families are happy about this milestone of having a private latrine of their own and are optimistic that people will no longer leave waste outdoors. We are continuing to encourage families to finish building walls and roofs over their new latrine floors.
Community members provided all locally available construction materials, e.g bricks, wheelbarrows of clean sand, wheelbarrows of ballast, fencing poles and gravel. Accommodations and meals were provided for the artisan, too.
Working together to excavate level ground for the concrete foundation.
Men and women lent their strength to the artisan to help him with manual labor. The spring area was excavated to create space for setting the foundation of polyethylene, wire mesh and concrete. After the base had been set, both wing walls and the headwall were set in place using brickwork. The discharge pipe was fixed low in place through the headwall to direct the water from the reservoir to the drawing area.
As the wing walls and headwall were curing, the stairs were set and ceramic tiles were fixed directly below the discharge pipe. This protects the concrete from the erosive force of the falling water and beautifies the spring. The process of plastering the headwall and wing walls on both sides reinforces the brickwork and prevents water from the reservoir from seeping through the walls and allows pressure to build in the collection box to push water up through the discharge pipe.
The area behind the discharge pipe called the 'spring box' is filled with materials like rocks, gravel, and fine sand, then covered with plastic to prevent contamination.
The source area was filled up with clean hardcore and covered with a polyethylene membrane to eliminate any potential sources of contamination. It took about two weeks of patience for the concrete to dry.
As soon as the project was completed, word spread around the community that clean water was flowing. Community members gathered around the water spring to see for themselves. They included the village elder, the water and sanitation committee officials, and our artisan and staff. We were honored to celebrate with them as they tried their first sips of clean water from Mihako Spring.
April, 2018: Sharambatsa Community Project Underway
Dirty water from Mihako Spring is making people in Sharambatsa Community sick. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.
Get to know your community through the narrative and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with more good news!