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
We found out about this community in need when traveling the one throughway in the area; Mahanga Shopping Center was the only stop along the road for a long while, and it came up when we were hungry. As we stopped and sat to drink milk, a local overheard our discussions about spring protections and approached us with a request to visit their own Mahanga Village. When we showed up to assess the spring and surrounding households, we were met by an overjoyed landowner, Mr. Vidija!
A normal day in Mahanga Community entails many struggles to make ends meet. For Mr. Evernce Vidija, his day is spent between his fish pond and farm. He attends to his little fishes to ensure that they are fed and safe from bird predators or human theft.
Most of the people in Mahanga Village run small businesses to sell trade goods or farm produce at Mahanga Shopping Center. The cost of living is very high in this area because this trading center is so far away from all the others in the county.
Around 300 people from 40 different households rely on contaminated water from Omollo Spring. Water pools under the shade of local plants, and a hollow banana tree trunk has been fixed at the spring eye. Water trickles out of this makeshift pipe, and women and children hold their plastic containers underneath until they are full. Only small containers fit under the banana tree pipe, so these must be continuously used to fill larger jerrycans.
Some community members fill their containers not to bring back home, but to take to Mahanga Shopping Center for sale. Most likely, the water purchased at the market is used for drinking. Water delivered home is separated between different plastic storage containers in the latrine, living room, and kitchen.
After drinking this water, reports of typhoid and diarrhea are common.
Over half of households have their own pit latrine. Most of the floors are made of tree logs, and the walls are made of either dried banana leaves or mud. The wooden floors are very difficult to clean and thus are dirty, smelly and rotting. These floors begin to endanger the user who could fall through into the pit underneath.
Those families who don't have their own pit latrine will share with their neighbor, or seek the privacy of bushes.
Less than half of households have helpful tools like dish racks and clotheslines. Garbage is disposed of either by the kitchen garden or behind their buildings. There are no hand-washing stations.
"We are badly off and totally forgotten by the government when it comes to the development of health amenities in the village. We have drunk unsafe water for so long that some people have developed resistance to severe cases of hygiene. This has put the kids into a bigger risk of contracting waterborne and any other hygiene-related health problems because their immune systems are still new to the strains of pathogens," Mr. Vidija told us.
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. One of the most important topics we plan to cover is open defecation and its dangers, as well as having and using a pit latrine.
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.