October, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Isaac Murila Shatsala
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 Irumbi to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point, Shatsala 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 the spring's landowner, Isaac Murila Shatsala, shared his story of how the coronavirus is impacting his life and his community.
Mr. Isaac Murila Shatsala
Field Officer Olivia Bomji met Isaac outside his home to conduct the interview. Both Olivia and Isaac observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Isaac's story, in his own words. You can also listen to much of Isaac's interview in the video below.
What is one thing that has changed in your community since the completion of the water project?
"We have benefited a lot because since the spring was constructed, we access clean and safe water. We no longer queue because the spring has 3 pipes so it takes less than a minute to fill 3 20-liter containers."
Clean water flows through Shatsala Spring's 3 discharge pipes
How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?
"I don't know what we would have done if Shatsala Spring had not been protected, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic since we have been using water more for drinking, washing clothes, and washing hands."
Isaac washes his hands at the spring
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, but we use more water than we used to before the COVID-19 pandemic. We fetch water more now because hygiene is of supreme importance."
Isaac next to his maize harvest drying in the sun
How has COVID-19 impacted your family?
"COVID-19 has affected us in a positive way. Now we have learned to do more on handwashing. We used to ignore washing hands, but now we do it more frequently than it used to be done. We have learned the importance of hygiene."
The Shatsala Family at home
What hygiene and sanitation steps have you and your community taken to stop the spread of the virus?
"We have ensured that all households own handwashing stations, keep social distance while fetching water, and avoid crowded places."
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?
"Lifting of curfew hours from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm. At least now, people can work more to provide for their families."
Isaac with his mask on
What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?
"I am looking forward to the government to allow the learning institutions to open just for the finalists (students in the oldest year within each school level), so that they can prepare more for their examinations."
Isaac and his wife at home
When asked where he receives information about COVID-19, Isaac listed the radio, television, newspaper, 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 community members now wash hands before going to fetch water, and they keep 1-meter social distancing while fetching water at the spring. The training enlighted the community members more on the importance of hygiene by helping them make the tippy taps (for handwashing)."
May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Irumbi Community, Shatsala 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 Irumbi, Kenya.
We trained more than 28 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.
October, 2019: Giving Update: Irumbi Community, Shatsala Spring
A year ago, your generous donation helped Irumbi Community in Kenya access clean water.
There’s an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water at Shatsala Spring in Irumbi. Month after month, their giving supports ongoing sustainability programs that help this community maintain access to safe, reliable water. Read more…
October, 2018: Irumbi Community Project Complete
Irumbi Community is celebrating their new protected spring, so celebrate with them! Shatsala Spring has been transformed into a flowing source of water thanks to your donation. The spring is protected from contamination, five sanitation platforms have been provided for the community, and training has been done on sanitation and hygiene.
Community members who use Shatsala Spring were all asked to attend hygiene and sanitation training. They were invited by our contact person, Sylvester, who walked door to door informing each of them that training would be held at his home. The attendance of 20 people was good, with almost all households represented.
Everyone was actively involved, although the men were more outspoken than the women. Generally, everyone was very interested in what was being said.
We covered several topics including but not limited to leadership and governance (participants started a water and sanitation committee); 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, and hygiene promotion. These participants will become ambassadors of healthy living among their own families and their greater community.
People enjoyed the session on handwashing. The participants were asked to demonstrate how they cleaned their hands, detailing each step of the process. Our trainer was then able to use the pitcher to show everyone how to improve their methods. Simply dipping your hands under running water will leave persistent germs.
One of the participants asked if it is possible to clean your hands if there is no one nearby to help you pour water from the pitcher. Another man said that it was totally possible and tried demonstrating to everyone. It proved to be a very tricky task, and so one of the facilitators showed everyone how to make a simple "hands-free" handwashing station to hang from a tree. But it was a windy day, so everyone burst into laughter seeing how the trainer had to follow the stream of water as the jug moved about.
The people seemed eager to put into action everything they had been taught, especially spring maintenance. They want to see clean water flowing for generations to come.
All five sanitation platforms have been installed and make wonderful, easy to clean latrine floors. These five families are happy about this milestone of having a latrine of their own. We are continuing to encourage families to finish building walls and roofs over their new latrine floors.
A pit being prepared for the sanitation platform and latrine to be build over it.
The community members have already put up a fence to protect their water source. They have also cut down blue gum trees, which take in a lot of water. The community members have also planted grass behind the spring to prevent erosion.
Community members provided all locally available construction materials, e.g bricks, wheelbarrows of clean sand, wheelbarrows of ballast, and gravel. It was hard to find enough stones to backfill the spring, which delayed the process a bit. Community members also hosted our artisans for the duration of construction.
The spring area was excavated with jembes, hoes, and spades 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 cured, 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 source area was filled up with clean stones and sand and covered with a polyethylene membrane to eliminate any potential sources of contamination.
The concrete dried over the course of five days. With this spring now handed over to the community, we will continue to follow up with the water user committee to make sure everything runs smoothly. We are sure committee member Grace Ingosi will enforce the rules for the proper care and maintenance of Shatsala Spring:
"We are very happy that this spring has been protected and we shall ensure that it's maintained properly. Anyone found washing clothes here will be penalized!" exclaimed. We know that with Grace around, everyone will cherish and appreciate this valuable water source in Irumbi.
August, 2018: Irumbi Community Project Underway
Dirty water from Shatsala Spring is making people in Irumbi 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!