November, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Adelide Musonale
This post is part of a new series by The Water Project meant to highlight the perspectives and experiences of the people we serve and how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them. We invite you to read more of their stories here.
Our team recently visited Shitoto to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point, William Manga Spring. Shortly after, we returned to check in on the community, offer a COVID-19 refresher training, and ask how the pandemic affects their lives.
During this most recent visit, Adelide Musonale shared her story of how the coronavirus is impacting her life and her community. As Secretary of the spring's water user committee and her area's Community Health Volunteer, maintaining her community's access to clean water and ensuring their health and safety during the pandemic are key aspects of Adelide's daily life. At home, she is also a wife and a mother to three daughters.
Adelide outside her home
Field Office Betty Muhong met Adelide outside her home to conduct the interview. Both Betty and Adelide observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Adelide's story, in her own words.
What is one thing that has changed in your community since the completion of the water project?
"Sanitation standards have really improved; community members' homes are clean and smart. To add to that, the rate of waterborne diseases has gone down because we have clean and safe water."
How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?
"Having clean water has really helped us. We can wash our hands regularly, and by so doing, we can prevent ourselves from this pandemic."
Adelide washes her hands with soap and clean water from the spring using a homemade handwashing station in her home
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Kenya, has fetching water changed for you because of restrictions, new rules, or your concerns about the virus?
"Yes. Initially, community members walked to the spring without masks, but after undergoing sensitization training by your team, members realized that COVID-19 is real. Most of us put on masks and observe social distance everywhere we go, including going to the spring."
Adelide and others observe physical distancing while fetching water at the spring
How has COVID-19 impacted your family?
"Initially, I could plant some vegetables and sell them at the market. As a mother, I was sure there was food on the table for my family. Due to the pandemic, I no longer sell vegetables, and this has affected my entire family."
Adelide with her family at home
What other challenges are you experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
"The closure of schools has exposed our teenagers to risks at home. Some will not go back to school because of early pregnancies."
What hygiene and sanitation steps have you and your community took to stop the spread of the virus?
"Since we were shown how to make our own masks, most of our members are putting on masks whenever they go out of their homes. Most community members have installed handwashing stations at their homes so that they can wash their hands as many times as possible to stop the spread of the virus."
Adelide wearing her mask
Like most governments worldwide, the Kenyan government continues to set and adjust restrictions both nationally and regionally to help control the spread of the virus.
What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?
"The reopening of churches was a relief. It feels nice to go to church and worship with other brethren and thank God for divine protection."
What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?
"The opening of all education [levels]; at the moment, only grade four, class eight, and form four are allowed at school."
Adelide washing the dishes using clean spring water
When asked where she receives information about COVID-19, Adelide listed the radio, television, and our team's sensitization training.
What has been the most valuable part of the COVID-19 sensitization training you received from our team?
"The most helpful part of the COVID-19 sensitization training I received from your team was how to make my own masks. I can make masks for my family, and this has saved me from buying them every time."
May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Shitoto Community, William Manga Spring
Our teams are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us in our fight against the virus while maintaining access to clean, reliable water.
Trainer hands out informational pamphlets on COVID-19
We are carrying out awareness and prevention trainings on the virus in every community we serve. Very often, our teams are the first (and only) to bring news and information of the virus to rural communities like Shitoto, Kenya.
We trained more than 34 people on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19. Before there were any reported cases in the area, we worked with trusted community leaders and the Water User Committee to gather community members for the training.
A woman reads an informational pamphlet on COVID-19
At the time, social distancing was a new concept, and one that challenges cultural norms. Although some community members were hesitant to adopt social distancing during the training, we sensitized them on its importance and effectiveness in combating the spread of the virus.
Trainer emphasizing a point
We covered essential hygiene lessons:
- Demonstrations on how to build a simple handwashing station
- Proper handwashing technique
- The importance of using soap and clean water for handwashing
- Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces including at the water point.
Participants observe social distancing
We covered COVID-19-specific guidance in line with national and international standards:
- Information on the symptoms and transmission routes of COVID-19
- What social distancing is and how to practice it
- How to cough into an elbow
- Alternative ways to greet people without handshakes, fist bumps, etc.
- How to make and properly wear a facemask.
Community members affix the prevention reminder chart to a tree near the spring
During training, we installed a new handwashing station with soap near the community’s water point, along with a sign with reminders of what we covered. Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we also dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the disease and provide extra information where needed.
Chart with prevention reminders installed near the spring
We continue to stay in touch with this community as the pandemic progresses. We want to ensure their water point remains functional and their community stays informed about the virus.
Trainer uses mask to show participants how to put it on and make adjustments
Water access, sanitation, and hygiene are at the crux of disease prevention. You can directly support our work on the frontlines of COVID-19 prevention in all of the communities we serve while maintaining their access to safe, clean, and reliable water.
December, 2018: A Year Later: Shitoto Community, William Manga Spring
A year ago, your generous donation enabled us to protect William Manga Spring for Shitoto Community in Kenya. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow our local teams to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the water project over time. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories. Read more...
February, 2018: Shitoto Community Project Complete
Manga Spring in Shitoto Community, Kenya is now a protected, clean source of water thanks to your donation. The spring is protected from contamination, five sanitation platforms have been provided for the community, and training has been given in sanitation and hygiene. Imagine the changes that all of these resources are going to bring for these residents! You made it happen! Now, want to do a bit more? Join our team of monthly donors and help us maintain this spring protection and many other projects.
Project Result: New Knowledge
Mrs. Adelaide Hamu, the newly elected chairwoman of the water user committee, helped invite everyone to hygiene and sanitation training. It was held at William Manga Spring as construction was ongoing. There were 23 participants, all who were excited and grateful for the opportunity to learn.
We covered several topics including leadership and governance; operation and maintenance of the spring; healthcare; family planning; immunizations; the spread of disease and prevention. We also covered water treatment methods, environmental hygiene, hygiene promotion, and many others. Since we were by the spring, we could run through hands-on management and maintenance demonstrations. Many of these individuals have joined a water user committee that will primarily be responsible for this water source.
We spent an entire session on hand-washing and its importance. When, how, and why should one wash their hands? We also taught participants how to construct their own hand-washing stations with local and affordable materials.
At the end of training, Chairwoman Hamu stood up and said, "I thank God who has been with us since we started this work. Secondly, I want to thank our facilitators, especially the one who taught us Group Dynamics. Personally, I had given up being a member of any group since I was in a group - and when we reached storming stage, we had no one to guide us and that was the end of our group. Now that I have learned and am able to solve any issue that may arise at any stage, I promise to be at the front of this group that we have formed."
Project Result: Sanitation Platforms
All five sanitation platforms have been installed and are ready for use. These five families are happy about this milestone and are optimistic that there will be much less open defecation. People without proper latrines would often use the privacy of bushes, but now have a private place of their own. It is expected that proper use of latrine facilities provided by the sanitation platforms will go a long way in reducing environmental pollution here. We are continuing to encourage families to finish building walls and roofs over their new latrine floors.
Project Result: Spring Protection
Community members provided all locally available construction materials, e.g bricks, wheelbarrows of clean sand, wheelbarrows of ballast, fencing poles and hard core (crushed rock and gravel). Accommodation and food for the artisan were provided, and we asked a few people to volunteer their time and strength to help the artisan with manual labor. The people living in this area of Shitoto were especially helpful; even children helped to carry stones right over to our artisan.
The spring area was excavated to create space for setting the foundation of polyethylene, wire mesh and concrete. After the base had been set, both wing walls and the headwall were set in place using brickwork. The discharge pipe was fixed low in place through the head wall to direct the water from the reservoir to the drawing area.
As the wing walls and head wall were curing, the stairs were set and the tiles were fixed directly below the discharge pipe. This reduces the erosive force of the falling water and beautifies the spring. The process of plastering the head wall and wing walls on both sides reinforces the brickwork and prevents water from the reservoir from seeping through the walls and allows pressure to build in the collection box to push water up through the discharge pipe.
Pouring concrete down to form the stairs.
Lastly, the base of the spring was plastered and the collection box was cleaned. The source area was filled up with clean hardcore and covered with a polyethylene membrane to eliminate any potential sources of contamination.
All this has transformed Manga Spring into a flowing, clean water source. People arrived right away to fetch their first jerrycans of that clean water, and we were there to capture some of that joy.
January, 2018: Shitoto Community Project Underway
Shitoto Community will soon have a clean, safe source of water thanks to your donation. Community members have been drinking contaminated water from Manga Spring, and often suffer physical illnesses after doing so. Our partner conducted a survey of the area and deemed it necessary to protect the spring, build new sanitation platforms (safe, easy-to-clean concrete floors for latrines), and conduct sanitation and hygiene training. Thanks to your generosity, waterborne disease will no longer be a challenge for the families drinking the spring’s water. We look forward to sharing more details with you as they come! But for now, please take some time to check out the report containing community information, pictures, and maps.