Mutao is a typical rural area with different farm activities; sugarcane plantations, maize plantations, and domestic farming and livestock rearing just to mention a few. The area is far from the town so it's peaceful. Upon entering the village you can hear the calm songs of birds and the calls of other animals. The buildings here are made of mud.
Farming isn't the only livelihood, though. Alcohol brewing in this community is quite high and the method used to prepare the brew is dangerous.
The 315 people living in this part of Mutao have no clean water. They fill containers at Shimenga Spring, which is heartbreaking to see. Nothing has been done to protect the quality of water and it is totally open to contamination.
A few homes use water guard to treat water before drinking it while others say "water does not have a bad heart" and consume it directly from the water source.
"Water is life and my community people have suffered greatly as a result of consuming the dirty and unsafe water from our unprotected Shimenga Spring," said Village Elder Seth Shivitsi.
"Children, in many cases, do not go to school daily due to being sick after consuming the dirty water. A lot of money has been used to cater for medication on those diseases that are water-related, including typhoid, diarrhea, and cholera."
The lack of clean and safe water has caused people to contract these water-related diseases. They use most of their resources to treat these illnesses and are left poorer than before.
What we can do:
Member of County Assembly, Honorable Gladys of Isukha, learned of spring protection projects before she was elected. When she took over the leadership of the ward, a piece of her main agenda was to ensure that she helps her ward by connecting us to springs that need protection.
In her company and that of the village elder, we moved around the villages in her ward to vet unprotected springs for protection. We were humbled to see the way she had the problems of her people at heart and how she interacted with community members. Water is life and she knows exactly that.
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.
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.
Latrines are in poor condition and are not clean. They also lack vent pipes and the odor is terrible. On the final day of training, participants will select five families that should most 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.