This project is a part of our shared program with Western Water and Sanitation Forum (WEWASAFO). Our team is pleased to directly share the below report (edited for clarity, as needed).
Welcome to the Community
Shitungu Village is located in Murumba, Butsotso of Kakamega County, Kenya. It is home to 480 people from around 60 different households. The majority of people belong to the Butsotso sub-tribe of the Luhyia. Since the village's establishment, outsiders have come to buy land from the locals.
Most people here rely on agriculture as their livelihood. They plant maize, cassava, groundnuts, bananas, and many other kinds of vegetables. Many of these farmers also raise cattle.
Mothers are the first to wake up in the morning. They start our cleaning their homes, sweeping, and fetching water from the local unprotected spring. After they finish their regular chores, they either go to the farm to help their husbands or go to the market to buy and sell goods. It's a struggle to sell enough for a child's school fees. The majority of this community is Muslim.
The community discovered the opportunity for spring protection when they met for the "Chief's Baraza," an event organized by the area chief. The chosen venue was near a spring that had already been protected by our organization. The area chief has also invited staff members to come and talk about hygiene and sanitation, and its during this session that Shitungu community members asked us to protect Hussein Spring.
Hussein Spring is an unprotected water source on which all households rely. When it's rainy, the spring's is supplemented by containers put outside the home for collection. When available, rainwater collection is often preferred; heavy rains cause the spring to become extremely turbid. This water is used for cleaning, cooking, watering animals and drinking. It is also used for irrigating crops during the drier seasons.
Small plastic containers, often the ones used to package cooking oil, are used to fetch water. These are dunked into the water until filled, and then lifted up on the head or back to return home. Once home, water is poured into large clay pots or 100-liter plastic containers for storage.
Hussein Spring is open to contamination from all directions! When it rains, waste is washed into the water. Animals are free to come and go as they please, while some women and children even step into the water while fetching. There are nearby latrines and farms, so there is a high likelihood the fertilizers and feces are in the drinking water. Though many mothers boil or treat water before drinking, the community is still subjected to outbreaks of waterborne illnesses like typhoid or diarrhea accompanied by stomach pain. A lot of money and time is wasted to treat these complications.
Less than half of households have their own pit latrine built with mud, grass, and iron sheets. The floors are often compacted with cow dung, which has to be redone on a regular basis. If a family doesn't have cattle, they have to ask their neighbors, many who are not willing to part with it. Because of these poor conditions, open defecation is an issue.
There are no places to wash hands after using the latrine. Many households also have no helpful tools like dish racks or clotheslines to dry their belongings up off the ground. Compostable waste is most often thrown in a pile by the farms so it can be used as fertilizers.
Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training
Community members will attend hygiene and sanitation training for at least two days. This training will ensure participants are no longer ignorant about healthy practices and their importance. The facilitator plans to use PHAST (Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation), CLTS (Community-Led Total Sanitation), ABCD (Asset-Based Community Development), group discussions, handouts, and demonstrations at the spring.
Training will also result in the formation of a committee that will oversee operations and maintenance at the spring. They 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.
Plans: Sanitation Platforms
On the final day of training, participants will select five families that should benefit from new latrines.
Training will also inform the community and selected families on what they need to contribute to make this project a success. They must mobilize locally available materials, such as bricks, clean sand, hardcore, and ballast. The five families must prepare by sinking a pit for the sanitation platforms to be placed over. All community members must work together to make sure that accommodations and food are always provided for the work teams.
Plans: Spring Protection
Fetching water is predominantly a female role, done by both women and young girls. Protecting the spring and offering training and support will therefore help empower the female members of the community by giving them more time and efforts to engage and invest in income-generating activities.
In addition, protecting the spring will ensure that the water is safe, adequate and secure. Construction will keep surface runoff and other contaminants out of the water.
Fetching water is predominantly done by women and girls. Once Hussein Spring is protected, the local female community members will be empowered with more time to engage and invest in income-generating activities. The spring is located at the bottom of a slope that gets slippery during wet weather, and so this construction will also protect community members from injury.
A local elder welcomed us, confiding that many other organizations had visited their spring but had never done anything to help. Shitungu leadership has pledged to commit themselves and their resources to the success of this project.