On the day of visiting Bungaya Village's main water source Charles Khainga Spring, we were welcomed by a young, energetic, and hardworking young man named Kevin Omondi who was busy collecting charcoal. He took us to the spring for vetting and afterward explained to use that he is involved in keeping dairy cattle, pigs, poultry, fish farming, and farming of maize, sugar cane, beans, groundnuts, vegetables, sweet potatoes, and cassava. He also sells cattle as a business.
The people of Bungaya Village wake up very early in the morning, as early as 4 am to work on their farms and prepare their children for school. The men go out to find an income while women are seen as those most responsible for domestic duties and childcare.
Mr. Omondi took us to visit with Charles Khainga, the man who lives on the land by the spring. Charles Kainga Spring is unprotected and entirely open to all sorts of contamination. Nearby farming fertilizers and other debris dirty the water, especially after it rains. Animals are also free to come and go as they're thirsty.
The 490 people living in this area prefer to avoid the spring because of its dirty water, which is certainly too dangerous to drink. They put out buckets and barrels to collect rainwater, but it's not enough for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. This forces people to resort to the dirty water at Charles Khainga Spring, where they continuously dunk a small container to fill their larger 20-liter container.
A lot of time is spent fetching water from the unprotected spring, valuable time that could have been used for other economic activities. People get sick after drinking the water from Charles Khainga Spring. Treatment of waterborne diseases also costs this community money that could have otherwise been used for investment.
"For a long time, we have waited eagerly for our spring to be protected but to no avail. However, we are grateful to God that you people have come to rescue our community," explained an expectant Charles Khainga.
What we can do:
"On some occasions, the members of the community have thought of protecting the spring but lack the necessary expertise or skills. We are glad that you have come to our assistance. This will greatly help improve the status of hygiene and sanitation in the community. In addition, if sanitation platforms are installed then this will significantly increase the hygiene and sanitation of the local community," explained Mr. Kevin Omondi.
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.
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. There will be stairs down to the collection point and a pipe that can easily fill water containers. 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.
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.
Not every family in the village has a pit latrine of their own. Instead, they're sharing with neighbors or going in the privacy of bushes. The pit latrines we were able to observe are in poor condition and not cleaned regularly. Cleaning is particularly difficult because of the traditional materials used for construction: wood and mud rot away if cleaned with water, which puts the users in danger of falling through the floor to the pit.
On the final day of training, participants will select five families that should most benefit from new cement 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.