The Mwituwa area is a steep, sloping land. Most roads in the area are muddy during rainy seasons or, like at the time of writing, dusty during the dry seasons. Most houses in this community are semi-permanent, made of mud walls and iron sheet roofs. The landscape is vegetated as most community members are farmers who grow their crops on a small-scale basis. This community is unique in how they compile their harvested bananas to sell together in the market. They are also identified by their self-help groups that meet at least twice per month.
210 people in Mwituwa depend on unprotected Onyango Spring for water. The spring is located on a steep slope which attracts surface runoff when it rains, bringing with it eroded soil, farm chemicals, and animal waste into the spring water. Even without rains, the constantly flowing water carries with it soil and sand from the ground. This drives time wastage when fetching water since most of the time. The community members need to first clear the spring for the water to start flowing through the improvised discharge pipe they lodged directly into the earth.
Overnight and throughout the day, soil and other debris build up in the pipe. When community members clear the pipe, the water runs dirty for some time until it has settled enough to fetch it. Because of this, most community members have to wake up very early to get to the spring and clear it in time to fetch clean water to start their days. In the evening, everyone returns to the spring for the same reason.
Having to fetch water around a schedule of clearing the spring of mud creates long lines at the same times each day, delaying daily routines. On weekends and holidays, the lines get longer. For women, wasting time at the spring means losing time for farm work, meal preparation, and household chores. For children, having to fetch water each morning means arriving at school late after waiting in line for so long.
"Over the weekends, it's tough for us getting clean water from this spring. The children come to fetch water. Some wash from here and make the water very dirty," said Bibiana Mulongo Oduory, a farmer in the community.
Drinking the contaminated spring water makes community members sick with waterborne and water-related diseases. The most frequently reported illness among families who depend on the spring is diarrhea, which affects young children. When people are sick, they lose more time and energy to spend on productive activities, and families drain their financial resources paying for medical treatment.
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. Therefore, protecting the spring and offering training and support will 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 training 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 which 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 to alter their practices at the personal, household, and community levels to affect change. This training will help ensure participants have the knowledge they need about healthy practices and their importance to make the most of their water points as soon as the 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 handling, storing, and treating water. Having a clean water source will be extremely helpful, but it is useless if water gets contaminated by the time it is consumed. The community and we 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 training 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 spring's operations and maintenance. 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.