Emalingana is a rural area which is very cool and vegetated. The homes are scattered across the land, and most of them are semi-permanent while a few are parmanent. The shopping center is a bit far from the community with just a very few shops around. What makes this community unique is that there are no issues of theft; people are afraid of stealing from others since everyone knows their neighbor. They are also known in helping each other despite the fact they are poor.
There are 280 people here who depend on Andayi Spring for all of their water needs, even though the spring water is highly contaminated. Women wake up very early in the morning to fetch water in an effort to fetch the cleanest water available for the day. Some wake up as early as 5:00 am to prepare their children for school, clean the house, and then rush to the spring to fetch water several times. When the women come home, they clean any dirty utensils from breakfast or the day before, go to work on their farms, and come home again around noon to prepare lunch and feed the family. Lunch is followed by another trip to the spring so they can fetch water for their livestock, and by late afternoon it is time to fetch water again for cooking dinner and bathing.
Right now, fetching water has to come before all else because it is so difficult to collect clean water. Most community members will end up walking to the spring, waiting their turn to fetch water, and walking home with their full containers up to 10 times in a day. On laundry days, that number increases.
There is so much extra time lost at the spring due to its unprotected state. Community members tried to cover up the spring's source with soil and inserted a makeshift discharge pipe into the earth over a concrete ledge, but this system misses a lot of the water the spring is producing. The water is visibly pouring out from under the inserted pipe, no matter how hard community members have tried to capture it. This leads to slower fill times for every container a community member brings, and consequently, large crowds and long lines. The latter is especially concerning during the pandemic when community members are trying to avoid groups and limit their time spent in public.
To access the spring, people must stand in the muddy puddle that remains opposite the discharge area. The surrounding area is slick with mud as well, making for tricky entrances and exits from the water point. Falls and their related injuries are not uncommon, especially among the children who come to the spring.
The water is contaminated with surface runoff, which carries farm chemicals and animal waste directly to the water source. During the rainy seasons, large amounts of soil are washed into the water as well. Sometimes there is so much dirt, the spring is covered over with soil and the washout carries away the pipe they installed. The water also changes color, ranging from brown to milky white, depending on the most prevalent contaminant each day. At times the water gives off a bad odor, too.
But the community members depend on this source, so they have no choice but to fetch the water even though its environment compromises its safety. Cases of diarrhea and stomachaches are commonly reported after drinking the spring water, as are cases of skin itching and rashes after using it to bathe. But most water treatment methods come at a cost, so community members mostly take the spring water untreated. Boiling, for example, requires too much firewood that they cannot spare, and other methods require purchases in the market.
"I don't boil or treat this water before drinking; it took me some time to realize that all the issues in my stomach are caused by unclean water," said 40-year-old farmer Josephine Wabwire.
Young primary school student Fabricas said the spring water is "dirty, tastes bad, and smelly," and it "causes stomachache and diarrhea whenever I drink it. The access area is also not safe."
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.