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
Mothers wake up earlier than anyone else in the family. They begin their day by cleaning their homes: sweeping in their homes, sweeping their outside areas, and fetching water very early in the morning. After they are through with their normal duties at home, they go to the farm to work or the market to buy and sell goods.
Some members of the community grow arrow roots, sweet potatoes, maize, beans, other vegetables and even bananas, which support their families with food and school fees for their children. Some do dairy farming and poultry keeping to earn a living.
In this community, women are the ones who do most of the work in and outside their homes to support their families.
One of the main water sources in Shitungu is Charles Amala Spring. 40 households use Charles Amala Spring on a daily basis for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and watering their cattle. During the dry season, even more people come to use the water for irrigating their crops.
Locals have fixed a short pipe into the ground at the eye of the spring which funnels water out into containers. A woman or child brings their container and holds it for a couple of minutes until it is full. During this process, it's normal to see a line form as others wait their turn.
This spring is susceptible to heavy siltation during the rainy season, during which heavy deposits of soil are carried by rainwater. More so, the spring is open to contamination by human and animal activities in the area. Users are exposed to waterborne and water-related diseases such as typhoid, diarrhoea, amoeba and malaria.
Our first visit revealed that quite a number of homes do not have pit latrines. Some people share sanitation facilities, while others opt for relieving themselves in the bushes near their homes and farms. Whoever practices open defecation like this introduces the entire community to fecal-oral diseases.
Latrines are made with mud walls, roofed with grass or rusty iron sheets, and the floor is done with cow dung. The challenge is maintaining the floor, which has to be redone regularly using fresh cow dung. The dung often has to be sourced from neighbors, some of which are not willing to provide. In addition, maintenance of latrines here is poor; in most homes, the mud walls are falling off and require remudding. In some instances, the people living around Charles Amala Spring use pieces of cloth or old blankets to serve as doors to the toilets.
Most people dispose of their garbage by throwing it in their farms so that they can later use it as fertilizer.
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. Mr. Charles Amala himself told us that "many organizations have come in this area purporting to protect the spring, but to date nothing has transpired." Clean water is finally becoming a reality!