December, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Emmanuel Lishenga
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 Rosterman to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training and monitor their water point, Lishenga 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 25-year-old university student Emmanuel Lishenga shared his story of how the coronavirus is impacting his life and his community.
Emmanuel stands next to his family's handwashing station at home.
Field Officer Rose Serete met Emmanuel outside his home to conduct the interview. Both Rose and Emmanuel observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Emmanuel's story, in his own words.
What is one thing that has changed in your community since the completion of the water project?
"Since the installation of this water point, we are at peace with our neighbors. Having enough water from this water point, we have started small hotels which have created employment for youth, making this community well-developed."
How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?
"Having a clean water point has been of great importance to this community. We are able to practice hygiene and sanitation like washing hands, which requires a lot of water during this pandemic."
Emmanuel fetches water from Lishenga 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?
"Yes. In the past, we used to touch the discharge pipe and fetch water without a mask, but nowadays, you are not allowed to touch the discharge pipe and you have to put on a mask while fetching water at the spring."
Physical distancing at the spring
How has COVID-19 impacted your family?
"My family was affected because, my mother being the breadwinner, had a stroke and it was difficult to take her to the hospital due to our financial crisis. So, we are nursing her at home. My siblings have been affected psychologically; it has been hectic to handle them being at home since a lot is needed."
Emmanuel with his mother outside their home
What other challenges are you experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
"There are inadequate job opportunities as many working places shut down. Many unemployed youths are idle, leading to an increase in the death rate as some relatives and friends engage them in certain behaviors such as drug and substance abuse."
Washing his hands using clean water from the spring
What hygiene and sanitation steps have you and your community taken to stop the spread of the virus?
"My community has installed a handwashing facility with clean water and soap in every home. They also try their best to stay one and a half meters away during ceremonies. And, finally, every community member has to put a mask on when outside their home."
What has been the most valuable part of the COVID-19 sensitization training you received from our team?
"The most helpful part was how to wash hands by the ten steps using clean water and soap. This was helpful because you need to wash your hands before entering any premises."
March, 2020: Rosterman Community, Lishenga Spring Project Complete!
Please note, all photos in this report were taken before social distancing recommendations went into place.
Rosterman Community now has access to clean water! Lishenga Spring has been transformed into a flowing source of water thanks to your donation. We protected the spring, constructed 5 sanitation platforms for different households in the community, and we trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices.
"We are pleased to have such a project in our community. We have nothing to give in return but to say thank you. We are now sure we are safe and free from diseases such as diarrhea and other horrible diseases. May God bless you," said village elder Nashon Asasala.
Community members celebrate flowing water at the completed spring with Nashon Asasala in center
Community members provided all locally available construction materials, including bricks, wheelbarrows of clean sand, stones, and fencing poles. Accommodations and meals were provided for the artisan, and women and men lent their strength to the artisan to help with the manual labor, too. This community was particularly committed to the construction process, our team noted, with large numbers of people showing up every day to help the artisan any way they could.
First, the spring area was cleared and excavated to create space for setting the foundation of thick plastic tarp, 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.
Community members formed an assembly line to mix concrete and pass it down to the artisan building the spring's foundation
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 source area was filled up with clean stones and sand and covered with a thick plastic tarp to prevent potential sources of contamination. Then soil was layered on top of the tarp so that community members could transplant grass to prevent erosion. Finally, the collection area was fenced in. It took about 2 weeks of patience for the concrete to dry.
Artisan sets the tiles before water is allowed to flow through the discharge pipe
As soon as it was ready, people got the okay from our field officers to begin fetching clean water. We met them there to celebrate this momentous occasion. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day flowing in all directions.
"It is a pleasure to see clean water flowing down the spring. We can now access clean, safe water and we are happy. I thank God for you people and I pray for God's blessings to descend upon your hands in Jesus' name. Amen," said community member and farmer Beatrice Aliebi.
All 5 sanitation platforms have been installed. These 5 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.
Kids stand proudly with their family's new sanitation platform
Community member and village elder Nashon Asasala helped organize the training in coordination with our team and the community's health volunteer. Together we found the community’s preferred date for training while considering other events in the community calendar such as the agricultural season and expected gatherings. When the day arrived, Lead Field Officer for the project Rose Amulavu deployed to the site with a team of facilitators.
Some 25 people attended the training including local and government leaders and many children! It was a cold and cloudy morning. We did the training under a tree outside of an attendee's homestead since it was a conducive environment for training and central to many attendees' homes.
Trainer Rose demonstrates the 10 steps of handwashing
We covered several topics including community participation in the project; leadership and governance; personal and environmental hygiene; water handling and treatment; operation and maintenance of the spring and sanitation platforms; dental hygiene; the 10 steps of handwashing, and how to make and use a tippy tap and leaky tin. During the leadership and governance session, we held an election for the leaders of the newly formed water user committee. We also brainstormed income-generating activities that can be used to start both a community savings account for any future minor repairs to the spring, as well as a cooperative lending group to enable members to develop their own small businesses.
A participant practices handwashing next to Trainer Rose
Handwashing was a key topic that the participants were taken through and a particularly memorable. The facilitator asked for a volunteer from the group to demonstrate to others how handwashing is done. A female participant came forth and did as requested but she did it casually. The facilitator then demonstrated the 10 steps of handwashing and the training participants were astonished because they had been doing it without following any sort of steps to ensure their hands really were getting clean.
They vowed to adopt the correct steps of handwashing immediately. The facilitator emphasized the critical points of handwashing including before after visiting the toilet; before and after attending to a sick person; before and during food preparation; after handling waste or chemicals; and before and after eating.
A young volunteer demonstrates toothbrushing
The discussion on safe water handling and storage was also memorable as the participants revealed that they typically would not change the water in their containers until it was gone. Some said this could take up to a month at a time! The facilitator advised them to change stored water and especially drinking water after every 3 days. Overall the training went on smoothly and the participants were very attentive. The questions they asked showed a lot of willingness on their part to learn more.
Village Elder Nashon Asasala stands proudly at the spring
When an issue arises concerning the water project, the water user committee is equipped with the necessary skills to rectify the problem and ensure the water point works appropriately. However, if the issue is beyond their capabilities, they can contact our team of field officers to assist them. In addition, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program.
Thank you for making all of this possible!