The Muyundi area is a gently sloping land where a majority of the homes are semi-permanent in nature and most farms include sugarcane plantations. In addition to sugarcane farming, people also raise dairy cattle and poultry. This community is known for football playing among both young adults and children. The roads to Muyundi are full of motorcycle taxis transporting people, and tractors ferrying sugarcane to the sugar processing companies.
210 people here depend on Magana Spring for water, but the unprotected spring's water is not safe for human consumption. Contaminants from surface water after the rains mixes with the spring water, bringing farm chemicals, residues from animal waste, and dirt into the water people drink.
Their inability to access clean water leads to many people contracting waterborne and water-related diseases which leave them unable to attend to their duties or work. Hospital visits and medications are expensive, draining families of their financial resources while they try to recover. And for children, each time they are sick means missed classes and falling behind their classmates at school.
Community members say typhoid is their most commonly contracted illness among families who depend on this spring for water.
"My family has been a victim of typhoid after consuming water from the spring, and this has caused me to use a lot of resources to cater to our medications," recalled 57-year-old John Magana, a retired teacher in the community.
"Getting sick due to drinking dirty water has sometimes rendered me incapable of assisting my mum with house chores duties, and it has affected my studies a lot," added young Moses.
Accessing the spring is another challenge. The narrow drawing point requires people to stand in a puddle of mud and water several inches deep. To fetch water, community members improvised a discharge pipe by lodging one directly into the earth near where the water comes to the ground's surface.
The community tried to secure the pipe by wedging it into place using rocks, mud, a tree root, and even an old toy ball. Still, heavy rains or an accidental bump from someone's jerrycan while fetching often dislodge the pipe, dirtying the water in the process with all of the dirt and sand that comes loose. In these cases, people have to wait even longer for the water to settle before they can begin fetching it again.
The pipe is also very low to the muddy puddle beneath it. People try to keep their jerrycans at an angle to fit them under the pipe, but as they get heavier while filling, they sometimes sink low enough in the puddle that the puddle water enters their containers. This is especially true for children, who are so often tasked with helping to fetch water for or with their mothers.
Some women try to get to the spring as early as 6:30 am to avoid the lines and dirtier water later in the day, but both seem inevitable.
What We Can Do:
Protecting the spring will help provide access to cleaner and safer water and reduce the time people have to spend to fetch it. 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 a task predominantly carried out by women and young girls. Protecting the spring and offering training and support will, therefore, help empower the female members of the community by freeing up more of their time and energy to engage and invest in income-generating activities and their education.
Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19, and More
To hold trainings during the pandemic, we work closely with both community leaders and the local government to approve small groups to attend training. We ask community leaders to invite a select yet representative group of people to attend training who will then act as ambassadors to the rest of the community to share what they learn. We also communicate our expectations of physical distancing and wearing masks for all who choose to attend.
The training will focus on improved hygiene, health, and sanitation habits in this community. We will also have a dedicated session on COVID-19 symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention best practices.
With the community’s input, we will identify key leverage points where they can alter their practices at the personal, household, and community levels to affect change. This training will help to ensure participants have the knowledge they need about healthy practices and their importance to make the most of their water point as soon as water is flowing.
Our team of facilitators will use a variety of methods to train community members. Some of these methods include participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation, asset-based community development, group discussions, handouts, and demonstrations at the spring.
One of the most important issues 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 is consumed. We and the community strongly believe that all of these components will work together to improve living standards here, which will help to unlock the potential for these community members to live better, healthier lives.
We will then conduct a small series of follow-up trainings before transitioning to our regularly scheduled support visits throughout the year.
Training will result in the formation of a water user committee, elected by their peers, that will oversee the operations and maintenance of the spring. The committee 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 channels. The fence will keep out destructive animals and unwanted waste, and the drainage will keep the area’s mosquito population at a minimum.