Wambosani Spring is an unprotected water point that is found in Upper Visiru Village of Vihiga County.
A normal day's work begins at 6 in the morning. The adults prepare to go to their farms while the children prepare to go to their respective schools. Most of the community members are casual laborers in the nearby towns of Majengo and Mbale.
Due to lack of sufficient land for farming, members of the village practice farming at a small scale just to feed their families.
The spring serves more than 60 households, not to mention the nearby Magui Primary School. The spring always flows with water and is especially popular during droughts.
Despite the spring serving a large number of people, it has never been protected.
"On so many occasions, we tried to come up with ways to protect this spring but all has never been positive," Mr. Ezekiel Ageso said.
Water from the spring is gathered using a jug or a plastic container which is immersed in the pool of water and then poured in jerrycans.
Water sourced at the spring is used almost immediately - most of the members have no storage containers in their homes. A majority of the members can't afford to buy the storage containers.
We could easily see that the spring water is contaminated. The catchment area is exposed to all types of contaminants. Even animals come to sate their thirst!
"We have had cases of typhoid in our village, this could be attributed to our water source being exposed to contaminants especially from human activities," Seth Kiribwa, a farmer from the community, said.
When conducting our survey we realized that at least each home had one or two sanitation facilities - an indicator that the community attitude towards hygiene and sanitation is positive.
We estimate more than half of all households have a latrine. However, some members still share latrines because they are not able to put up their own due to the fact that they are expensive to construct.
A majority of the members told us that they have a kitchen garden where most of the garbage is disposed of and later on used as manure once it has decomposed.
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.