Our field officer who examined Mmasava Spring says the water isn't even fit for swimming, let alone drinking and cooking with. But it's the only option for the 140 people who live in Mudutsu. They are used to cholera and typhoid now; after all, they don't have a choice. Mmasava Spring is their only source of water, and it's putting them all in danger.
"[I] have lived in this village for a long time," said Simon Orio, 37, a local farmer (pictured above). "One case that I cannot forget is when my nephew started [to have] diarrhea at night continuously and it was raining. We thought it was just for some time, but the situation kept changing from bad to worse, and he was complaining of [a] stomachache too. We had to walk to the hospital while being rained on. Thanks to God, he was assisted on time. The diagnosis was typhoid."
Even if those who get sick get treatment and survive, their futures are still in peril. Like 12-year-old Glen (pictured below), who feels as though he's being left behind by his classmates. "[I] have had a number of cases where I had [a] fever and [was] forced to stay at home while other pupils were at school, which I don't like. It makes me drag behind in terms of performance in my class, and all this is because of using contaminated water, which we don't have an option for now."
The spring is at the base of a hill that is used for farmland. When it rains, all the runoff is deposited into the water, carrying fertilizer, dirt, and who knows what else. Also, the rain makes the ground around the spring slippery, which makes scooping up the water from the pool even more difficult than usual. The rain stirs up the water, too, so even the most carefully fetched water will be brown and opaque. Because of this, community members often wait until the day after a rainstorm to access the water, but in the rainy season, when rain is constant, they can only wait so long before they need water.
Even with all the strife they endure because of their community's water crisis, our field officers only had good things to say about Mudutsu's people. "This community defines themselves by their character," she said. "They are people who never give up easily, who always give the best of them. Honest people with great manners. They are also people who like to share and who get happy for the happiness of others."
With a protected spring, water-related sickness in this community will greatly reduce or even disappear. They will be able to fetch water whether it's rained or not and drink it without fear of missing another day of school or watching another loved one in pain.
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.