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
Everyone living in Lugango Village wakes up by 6am. Some men go out to milk cows because every house has at least one cow - but the irresponsible ones - especially drunkards, lay around as their wives struggle to multitask; from sweeping the houses to milking cows, preparing breakfast, watering vegetables, and fetching water among other duties.
A good number of men bake bricks to sell, but spend all of the money in alcohol. Others are touts at Mahanga bus stop while others are whispered to be selling bhang but nobody has evidence. A good number of homes, especially the youngest ones, only have women staying with children since their husbands do casual work in Nairobi.
Most women work on their farms after finishing domestic chores in the morning, but have to return to the house to prepare lunch at 11:30am because school children return for lunch. At night every child, after helping their mothers to do household duties, do private studies with a tin lamp - but they miss this routine when there is no kerosene for the lamp. This is how life moves for the community, though it seems unfair for women who never dare contradict culture lest they attract wrath of the gods.
Throughout the day women are seen drawing water from Lugango Spring, and children join them in the evening after school to lessen the burden. Men seem not to bother about domestic work as none are seen helping women even as they fetch water. One woman confided to WEWASAFO staff that it is a taboo for circumcised men to fetch water from the spring; that even the young boys who help carry water from the spring will stop immediately after they undergo that rite of passage. After being declared men, they can only work on the farm, lay bricks, be touts, slash (clear bushes around) the compound, fence the compound, milk cows and build houses and sanitation facilities. Therefore, much work in this village is done by women and children.
Villagers report that open defecation is common here, and that rain washes that waste into their drinking water. We could visibly see sediments floating in the water, and locals confirm that it always looks this way. People wait in between uses of the spring because they want that water to settle as much as possible. This wastes a lot of time!
All kinds of containers are used to fetch water, but the most common is they yellow jerrycan. Containers are dunked under the water until full, and then raised up and supported with the head and an added hand for stability. Most young boys who help before manhood lug containers around with no support because they think carrying water atop the head is just for women. And these containers are filthy! A peep inside one reveals a mold-like substance growing there. This just further dirties the water.
Most children living here miss class because of typhoid, which has led to very low performance at nearby Mahanga Primary School. Adults also suffer from regular diarrhea, and everyone knows it's because Lugango Spring is so contaminated. All of this sickness leads to low productivity in Lugango Community.
Less than half of the households here have latrines. But if we were to hold all of these pit latrines to high standards, only three households would have them! Many of the others have broken walls and roofs that allow for rain to leak through to the wooden floors inside. These wooden slats are lain dangerously far apart, and are prone to termites and rotting because of the poorly constructed superstructure. In fact, two of these were so dangerous that we recommended those families immediately stop using them. We put them first on the list for new sanitation platforms! Because of these poor conditions, open defecation is a serious issue here.
Garbage is thrown on the farm. Dogs carry some of the litter around, while wind also blows it all over the farm and even carries it back to the homesteads. Children are seen touching trash on the ground and eating even before washing hands - no wonder many here complain of diarrheal diseases.
"We are suffering diseases because our spring is not protected. Even the NGO that distributes chlorine stopped bringing us help because they do not consider this to be a spring... A lot of money has been wasted in the hospital seeking medication after suffering diseases caused by such dirty water. Most people also defecate inside those big rocks and in bushes, therefore rain brings all that feces inside our water; no wonder sickness has become a normal thing here. Please protect for us this source because it will be the most important step towards healthy living in our village," pleaded Mrs. Ruth Mulei.
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
Every project comes with the cement needed to make five sanitation platforms. We normally have the community vote to select five of the neediest families to receive new latrine floors. However, six families were put forward and we've had to ask the village elder to make the final decision.
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.
Those who will miss out on the platforms will be taught how to make good, durable floors and how to take care of the floors constructed using local materials like logs and so that they last a long time.
Plans: Spring Protection
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 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.