May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Burmia Community, Imbwaga 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 Burmia, Kenya.
We trained more than 17 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.
January, 2020: Bumira Community, Madegwa Spring Project Complete!
Bumira Community now has access to clean water! Madegwa Spring has been transformed into a flowing source of water thanks to your donation. We protected the spring, provided 5 sanitation platforms to different households in the community, and we trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices.
Women smiling while they fetch water at the newly completed spring
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, too.
Women and men lent their strength to the artisan to help him with manual labor. The spring area was 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.
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.
Artisan sets the discharge pipe in the spring's headwall
When it came time to backfill the springbox, at first it was not very easy to get enough stones to finish up the construction process. The community members ended up having to purchase gravel from afar and transport it to the spring site. This caused some delays during the backfilling phase, but eventually, we had enough. The source area was filled up with clean stones and sand and covered with a thick plastic tarp to prevent potential sources of contamination. It took about 2 weeks of patience for the concrete to dry.
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. Elizabeth Isakho, a 79-year-old farmer who has seen the challenges and struggles of her community without clean water for many years, shared her thoughts on the newly protected spring.
"I am very grateful and so pleased to be part of this community at a time when access to clean and safe water was made a reality. This spring is properly constructed and we feel comforted by it. No more hurdles of collecting water using jugs because now our spring gushes clean water from the pipe," Ms. Isakho said.
"We shall take very minimal time to fetch water from the spring. As a woman, this humbles me a lot that someone thought it appropriate to help us get water from a clean and safe place. God bless you and the teams that supported this noble task."
Community members said they found a new sense of unity over their protected spring
By protecting Madegwa Spring, many peasant farmers and casual laborers have found relief in getting safe and clean water from a trusted and reliable source. A population of over 201 people can now tell a new story because the waiting time to collect water from the spring has been reduced to just 6 seconds. This has provided the community members with much time to engage in other constructive economic activities, unlike before when it was so cumbersome to scoop water using jugs.
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.
Proud new sanitation platform owner holds a sign of thanks
The training was planned with the help of Kevin Lusava, who had the list of households who use the spring. We asked Mr. Lusava to give us the community’s preferred date for training, for he was very much aware of the community calendar when it comes to planting season and other big events. The community agreed on a date and Mr. Lusava helped inform everyone about the training day while recruiting participants and choosing the venue. Mr. Lusava liaised with the spring's landowner, Mr. Joseph Madegwa, who allowed the participants to gather at his home for this purpose. Mr. Madegwa was very helpful because he provided the seats that were used during the training.
20 people attended training, which our team thought was well attended. It was very encouraging to see a large number of participants spare their time for the sake of the training, taking into consideration that it was during the planting season. Typically during this time of year, no one has a moment to spare as their full attention and effort is required in their fields, but in this case, their love for the project outweighed other things and the training was given the first priority by the attendees.
Training participants take notes during a workshop
The weather during the training day was relatively warm and very conducive to the outdoor setting. Mos topics were conducted at Mr. Madegwa's compound before moving to the spring for an onsite demonstration of maintenance and use. The training was very enjoyable for both the participants and the facilitators.
We covered several topics including leadership and governance; operation and maintenance of the spring; healthcare; family planning; immunizations; and the prevention and spread of disease. We also covered water treatment methods, personal care like handwashing, environmental hygiene, hygiene promotion, and many other things.
Learning the 10 steps of handwashing
The participants were vibrant and they asked questions throughout the entire day. They discussed the issues about local resource mobilization and thanked each other for working together as one team. Those who were asked to take up leadership roles and to participate in various demonstrations also did so without objection. When someone was not aware of a thing, they were very free to seek help and for others to give it. The participants were very receptive to learning new ideas that challenged their preexisting ones.
Trainer Laura Alulu assists a child in a handwashing demonstration
While discussing safe water handling and treatment methods, it emerged that some of the families with young children were using the chlorine from the dispenser at the spring, intended to treat water, as their bleaching agent on their laundry. Because of this unintended use, participants registered their complaints that the chlorine is exhausted faster than it used to be. Thus, the introduction of the solar disinfection method of water treatment was welcomed during this session as a method that provided a true and long-lasting relief to the scores of members who felt cheated of chlorine by their neighbors.
During the environmental sanitation session, the participants were able to point out that the absence of latrines encourages people to use the bush as the most reliable alternative, and that this poses a danger to both water and soil pollution. The community members resolved to campaign for the installation and rightful usage of various sanitation facilities across their community, including latrines, dishracks, compost pits, handwashing stations, and clotheslines.
Thus they all agreed that there is a need to have and use these sanitation and hygiene promotion facilities. They were happy that the 5 families got household latrine slabs to use to improve sanitation.
Community member shares a response during training
Dental hygiene was another session that really took hold in this community.
"It will be a lame excuse to fail to brush your teeth because you lack money to buy a toothbrush or toothpaste," said farmer Phanice Chekeri.
"This is because, today, we have been shown alternative resources to use instead. The realization that salt or charcoal and chewed sticks can help practice oral hygiene in the same manner manufactured toothpaste and toothbrushes do the same, respectively, is a reason good enough to find comfort in," she said.
Participants smile while holding their training materials at the spring after completing training
By the end of the training, our team witnessed the community embracing the oneness and teamwork that had gotten them through the construction process to see the spring reach completion.
As one community member said, "Going forward, let’s keep bound together to ensure that we all safeguard our gains as a community. This water point is ours to manage."
Thank you for making all of this possible!