Most people living in Chiliva are small-scale farmers who grow sugarcane and a variety of crops for home consumption. Despite the community's many challenges in accessing basic needs, most children and teenagers are highly educated thanks to their parents' continuous support and value in education. The young are the pride of this village, the adults say.
245 people in Chiliva depend on unprotected Elphas Omworo Spring for water. The spring is an open source carved into a small hillside surrounded by mud and makeshift ledges as stairs. Community members access the water by either submerging their containers or using a bowl or small jug to scoop water from the pool to then pour into their larger jerrycans.
Most people prefer drawing water from the spring very early in the morning or late in the evening in an effort to fetch the water at its calmest; too many people fetching too quickly stirs up mud, algae, and detritus from the bottom of the pooled water. With everyone of the same mind, however, community members often find themselves in long lines wasting a lot of their time waiting to fetch water. This delays the rest of the day's activities and takes away from productive time at school, work, home, and on the farm.
Water from the spring is highly contaminated. Run-off from the rains carries dirt, animal waste, human waste, and farm chemicals straight into the water. Animals come to the spring and drink directly from the pool. And when people dip their containers into the water, they bring with them any dirt or bacteria from their jerrycans, hands, and feet as they collect water at the spring's edge.
Community members report frequent and persistent cases of typhoid among families who depend on this spring. Typhoid is particularly expensive to treat in this region, draining families of their time, energy, and financial resources as they seek care and medication.
"Because of the outbreak of waterborne diseases, I have been in and out of school and this has really affected me academically," said Catherine, who attends primary school.
"I have spent a lot of money treating typhoid every now and then. It's my humble request that you help us protect this spring to avoid paying huge bills at the hospital," said Elizabeth Ayuma, a 67-year-old farmer, mother, and grandmother.
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.