This project is a part of our shared program with Safe Water and Sustainable Hygiene Initiative (SAWASHI). Our team is pleased to directly share the below report (edited for clarity, as needed).
Kuvasali Community lies on steep land in Malava Sub-County. The roads that lead to the community have small and big rocks. The village is surrounded by sugarcane and maize plantations. Besides crop production, the community members do rare indigenous farm animals like, cattle, goats and poultry. Most homesteads have semi‐permanent houses built with wood, mud and iron sheets. Others are thatched houses built with grass, wood and mud. This illustrates the different levels of income and resources that each family has in this community.
The community has its own culture and set of values that they believe. Women and children play a big role in this community by fetching water and maintaining good hygiene and sanitation. Men are expected to be busy earning daily bread and taking care of the animals.
The Current Source
In 1989, a hand-dug well was provided to the community by the Kenya Finland Company so as to help community members have access to a clean and adequate water supply and reduce the long distances walked by women and children in search of water. The well served the community with clean water until 2013 when it failed. Now, the well is deemed unprotected. Repairs were attempted by the community without success. After several attempted repairs, the community gave up because of their lack of finances. They are in need of a water user committee that will manage and maintain their water point.
The only source of water in this area is this unprotected well. Though the well was dug to make water more accessible to the community, it is still over 2 km from Kuvasali Village and takes people 30-60 minutes to travel only one way. Since it is the only well in the area and is also seasonal, it is often overcrowded. Women and children must wait in line a for long time before fetching water. Testimonies reveal that quarreling and fighting to be first at the well is commonplace.
To fetch water from the well, community members use jerrycans that don't have covers. Once they get water home, they rightly separate their drinking water from their water for domestic use. Families are also careful to keep these containers clean and free from scum that often gathers because of contaminated water. Nobody in the community treats their water before drinking, and negative known consequences after drinking this contaminated water is that both the young and the old suffer from regular diarrhea and typhoid.
With the help of the area's assistant chief, Kuvasali Community was accepted for a rehabilitation project. The well has sufficient water that will serve the community throughout all seasons, and the community members have positive attitudes and are ready to contribute to the rehabilitation of their water source. For this project to be a success, the community will have to contribute 20% . This is done by providing materials like sand, water, and bricks needed for construction.
Over 75% of the households in Kuvasali Village have latrines. These latrines are structured differently than those in most communities. Most of them are made from a combination of mud, grass and wood. Some of them have doors, while others use a rag as a door. The pit itself is not covered either, making it very easy for flies to enter and leave carrying dangerous waste. The flies attracted to the latrines are the same flies attracted to the kitchen.
It was observed that 25-50% of households have hand-washing facilities, but do no use soap. Over 75% of households have helpful tools like dish racks or clotheslines. Most families have a designated place to dump their garbage within their own compound.
It was obvious the community is greatly aware of their need to live healthier, and will greatly benefit from hygiene and sanitation training. Community members are eagerly awaiting hygiene and sanitation training. On our arrival to the site, some of them were seen preparing the well by clearing away brush and sweeping the well pad.
Community members of Kuvasali Village will be recruited to attend training for three days. On the first two days, the facilitator will focus on hygiene and sanitation practices. On the third day, the community and partner will work together to form and educate a water user committee. This committee will manage and maintain their community well. The facilitator plans to use the PHAST (participatory hygiene and sanitation training) method and group discussions to teach health topics. By the end of training, community members will realize the importance of good hygiene and sanitation and will be able to apply new practices like hand-washing, proper water storage and food preparation. Local man Mr. Geoffrey Ingutia says, "Thank you so much for your coming to educate us on proper hygiene and sanitation practices. Most of us have been ignoring good hygiene and sanitation practices in which is the main cause of our health effect. With the knowledge we will practice proper hygiene and sanitation to improve our health."
All of the communities around Kuvasali gathered together at the area assistant chief's office, since they are under his leadership. The chief ensured that a group of people from every community as present, especially leaders from the water user committees. Because of his efforts, training turnout was good. The facilitator also observed great participation from both the men and women; they worked openly together do ask and discuss questions regarding the hygiene and sanitation conditions of their communities.
The facilitator also used pictures and posters to inspire discussion. These illustrated both good and bad practices, and the facilitator asked groups to define them. The topics covered during training were:
- Proper hand-washing methods
- Food preparation and its storage
- Water treatment and storage
- Prevention of diarrheal diseases
- General hygiene in the household
The facilitator demonstrated the ten steps required for proper hand-washing, and then individuals had a chance to practice in front of the others. Connecting bad hygiene and sanitation with bad health will encourage locals to adopt these new good habits. Mr. Wilson Andai of Kuvasali says, "I have always ignored the aspect of proper hand-washing. At some point, I behave to be so busy never to remember washing my hands before eating. This has made me become a victim of typhoid diseases. I wish my people will not ignore to wash hands after every activity!" These communities will be revisited in June to assess whether or not training was successful, mainly, that households are practicing what they were taught.
Rehabilitation of Kuvasali's hand-dug well began on February 8th. It took an entire day for the construction team to remove the old, cracked well pad with chisels, mallets, and hammers. This old well pad had been allowing contamination through to the water. During the next two days, a mixture of cement, sand, water, and concrete was used to re-plaster a new well pad. This was done meticulously in order to prevent the previous contamination issues. Once enough coats of plaster were applied, the team left the mixture to cure for three days. With a solid well pad, the team could then flush the well, test it, and install the hand-pump. The entire process went smoothly, and the community showed their gratefulness by ensuring the work team was fed and cared for. Farmer Ronald Ngaira let his words express his gratefulness, saying, "The new water source will save our lives from the spread of waterborne diseases. My wife passed away because typhoid, I am also taking typhoid drugs. By installing an Afridev pump on this source, we shall be all secure."
The people of Kuvasali Community are very happy to see their water source renewed. The community has promised to own the project and be part of all that happens around it, unlike before when they referred to the well as belonging to Kenya Finland Company. With the water user committee in place, they believe that the source will be able to serve them and their generations to come.