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
Early in the morning, women wake up to start household chores, while most men sleep late. When they wake up, they take tea and return to the bar. When children wake up, they take black tea or eat porridge in preparation for the rush to school. After the children are out, women work either on their own farms or those of others to earn a living. Each household has at least one cow, so feeding and watering the cow is part of a woman's daily routine.
A day hardly ever ends without quarrels erupting; drunkards always seem to be causing disputes over even the simplest matters. It is believed that a curse is flowing down the ancestry here, because it has an abnormal level of alcoholism that is not witnessed anywhere else in the region. "I have seen drunkards, but at least villages with alcoholics also have a few reasonable men, and even some of the drinking men try to somehow support in the smallest ways like grazing animals, but this village must be under a curse: their rate of drinking is not normal," Mary Ayuma explained. These same men do not fend for their families, and furthermore return home from the bar demanding food. If they don't get the meal they were hoping for, all hell breaks loose. Women of this village must be honored for struggling to provide for their families despite the hard conditions and poor environment. A number of widows in this area lost their husbands to diseases caused by heavy drinking and heavy smoking.
"The most interesting thing is that many people in this area, including the drunkards, are serious church-goers. A man leaves home smoking and stands by the church gate to finish puffing his stick, then throws the filter at the entrance as he enters the church smelling like cigarette smoke," shared the village elder. Some young men have resorted to thuggery as a source of money to fund their habits, while others fetch water from Andebe Spring to sell to Ebukanga Secondary School or the nearby local brewing stations.
Surface runoff contaminates the main water source, Andebe Spring. At times, frogs, snails and even cow dung have been seen in the water. When it rains, everyone must wait for the dirt to settle before drawing water, which wastes a lot of the time. In addition to that, when parents fall sick - especially women - getting food and other basic needs become a problem in the family.
People hold their containers under a banana leaf rolled up and fitted in the spring eye, an improvisation that works a bit like a pipe. The older the person fetching water, the larger the container they're expected to carry. Since the households using Andebe Spring are so impoverished, they just store water in the same containers that they bring to the spring. Since they have no lids (most lids get lost or are taken by the children to play with) they are susceptible to large contamination levels the longer they're stored.
After consuming this water, children and elderly are the most susceptible to sickness. Children often miss class. When the mother running a Shikhuyu household falls ill, then getting food and other basic needs becomes a huge challenge for the rest of the family.
The latrines in Shikhuyu do not have proper doors, most just hang a piece of cloth in the opening. Most of the floors are made of branches, which are attractive to termites and prone to rot. These floors are particularly hard to balance on, presenting challenges to small children and the elderly. The branch floors are near impossible to clean.
Not a single household has dug a compost pit to properly dispose of their trash, and so it's scattered all around their properties. Less than a quarter of families living around Andebe Spring use helpful tools like dish racks and clotheslines.
Village Elder Delis Akinyi said, "My people are suffering because of ignorance. Please come and teach us how to practice good health so that we will no longer waste time and money treating diseases that can be prevented. Prevention is better than cure!"
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
Protecting the spring will ensure that its water is safe, adequate and secure. Construction will keep surface runoff and other contaminants out of the water.
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 energy to engage and invest in income-generating activities.