The 160 community members in Mwikholo depend on the poorly constructed Mahero Spring for their daily water needs. Although a community member attempted to protect it in 1997, they didn't have any construction or water-protection expertise, so the spring has been falling apart ever since.
"Due to the not-so-good workmanship, the spring is currently in a bad state, with water currently standing in the collection area and the discharge pipe literally falling off," said our field officer, Elvis Alfuya, when describing the spring's current condition. "The materials [used], in the form of mud, vegetation, and pieces of clothing used to hold the pipe in position, can easily contaminate the water. The spring has no staircase to facilitate access to the drawing point."
He continued: "The drawing point of the main source also [is] usually full of water, sometimes to the extent of totally submerging the discharge pipe. Community members have sustained physical injuries as a result of accidents at the access point, especially during the rainy season when the access point becomes excessively slippery. This, therefore, renders the main source unusable [in the wet season]."
"Yesterday evening, I just slid and fell whilst attempting to access the drawing point. Luckily enough, I did not sustain any injuries, but this has been the norm here. If something is not done about it, others will continue getting injured," said Maureen N., shown above collecting water.
When the main spring is unusable, community members spend their valuable time and energy searching for other water sources.
"During the rainy season, due to the fact that the main source has no proper access, community members have to go to the alternative spring, wasting more time to fetch water," said our field officer Elvis Afuya.
"The situation is bad. Last week my wife had to take our lastborn kid to the nearby dispensary three times because of reoccurring stomach upsets. The doctor suggested that we should consider treating our drinking water because it seemed to be the problem. We also get waterborne parasites getting into our feet when fetching water in the spring. This is due to the ever-stagnant water in the drawing point area," said small-scale farmer Daniel Mahero (shown below at the spring).
Reconstruction and proper protection of the spring will provide community members with sufficient access, a well-placed discharge pipe, and proper drainage. It should also make it safer to access drinkable water so they can focus on other important things in their lives.
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 and More
To hold training, we work closely with both community leaders and the local government. 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.
The training will focus on improved hygiene, health, and sanitation habits in this community. 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.