Werabunuka is a spring in Malava sub-county among the Kabras people of the larger Luhya tribe.
A normal day in this community begins when members wake up early and engage in different activities as per the schedule of the day.
In most cases, the men are tasked with the responsibility of going to the farm and to help feed the cows. They usually take the cows to drink water from the unprotected spring.
More than half of households have latrines. Many are in a pathetic state and pose a hazard to the user. Women and children go to the spring and fetch water for consumption and household tasks like washing clothes and cooking.
To get to the spring, we boarded a public service vehicle locally known as 'matatu' to Malava. Then got on a motorcycle taxi, known locally as "piki piki" to Chegulo where the spring is found.
The community members use jerrycans and immerse it in the pool of water. Some store the water in the same container used to fetch it, while others use mud molded pots to store water - especially for drinking water since they believe it acts as a refrigerator.
People reported spending a lot of money on medication due to contraction of water-related diseases.
"People from Chegulo are really unfortunate. Since time immemorial, individuals have reported to have suffered due to consuming the water. The health situation is wanting and needs critical attention," Edward Werabunuka said.
One day, on our way to Werabunuka Spring in a matatu, I was reading an article on human anatomy and how a human body functions. The author of the article stressed the fact that a human body cannot survive if all the blood was drained from it.
Immediately, I started comparing a human body to the community where we live and operate. I thought about the significance of water in a community and the importance of blood in a human body. After a lot of thinking, I reached a conclusion that just as a living organism cannot do without blood, a community cannot survive without water.
Water is indeed at the center of all activities in the community. There is a need, and an urgent one, to give humanity access to clean and safe water.
This means that Werabunuka is not only a source of water but can also be a source of life to the people of Chegulo. No wonder the phrase "water is life" was established!
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. Handwashing 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.