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).
Mukhonje Village has 450 community members from 45 different households.
The Mukhonje people rely on farming, with sugarcane as the main cash crop. Unlike most other communities, the women here are the breadwinners. Men are concerned with issues concerning school fees and being there as the leading head of the family.
Women wake up early in the morning to go till their small farms, and then go to fetch water for their family's use. The level of poverty in this community is around 60 percent.
The Current Source
The community gets water from a well that does not effectively or safely serve its users. The well was installed in 1982 by the Kenya Finland Company, and the community has done their best to continually maintain and repair the pump. The well now has a temporary Nira pump installed, but it takes several minutes for this pump to yield enough water for one small containers. The well pad is even older than the worn-out Nira pump, and has several cracks that allow dirty water to flow back inside the well. It will take a new pump and a new well pad for the water to be both accessible and protected. During the initial visit to Mukhonje Village, it was observed that containers used for fetching and storing water are not clean. Locals use 10 and 20-liter plastic containers to fetch from the well, and then once at home, pour the water into larger clay pots. This water is often boiled or treated with chemicals before drinking, but negative consequences are still reported. Skin diseases, colds, flus, and typhoid are common occurrences after consuming this well's water.
On arriving at the site of this hand-dug well, a woman carrying a 20-liter bucket also arrives. She appears to be extremely tired even though it’s well past morning.
She is Elika Ambunya, a mother of four who walks 1.5 km to access water from this source. She begins to pump water from the Nira pump; it takes her 10 minutes for water to finally flow out. “I prefer walking this distance and get water from this source because I believe in the safety of water. Being a woman in this community means ensuring that your family drinks clean water and eats clean food," she says.
As a result of pumping water from the borehole, Elika complains of constant chest pains. “Initially this pump was good. But since we have tried to repair it until it can no longer be repaired, we are forced to pump for many minutes so that water can flow out to our containers. Together with other women, chest pains have become the song of the day,” Elika says. Elika is optimistic that when a new pump is installed on the well, the burden women carry in this community will be eased. Women of this community have the responsibility of making sure water and food are always present in the home.
By installing a new Afridev pump on this well, a smile will be seen on the faces of women like Elika, and life will be enjoyable. A back-breaking 10 minutes of pumping has certainly been the opposite of enjoyable. “We have just put some local rubbers inside the pump system so that at least it can once more serve us,” she added.
This hand-dug well is a worthy rehabilitation project because it has reliable, sufficient water that can supply the entire community throughout all seasons. With dedicated locals like Elika and a responsible water user committee, a renewed well will be sure to serve this area for many years to come.
No more than 75% of households have pit latrines. The holes are uncovered and clothing items are hung to act as doors. Both men and women work together to keep these areas clean, and the surveyor noticed that many families observe good cleaning habits within their homes. No hand-washing stations were seen, but over 75% of households have and use dish racks and clotheslines. As of now, garbage is disposed of in expansive areas such as the surrounding banana plantations.
By the end of this project, two hand-washing stations will be installed in the form of "tippy taps." Tippy taps are containers tied to ropes, which tip to pour water for hand-washing. Community members will learn how and when to use these stations during hygiene and sanitation training.
Community members will be trained for three days on hygiene and sanitation topics. Some of these topics are:
- General cleaning in the home
- Proper water storage and effective treatment
- Food preparation, handling, and storage
- Forming an effective water user committee
The water user committee will fund repairs, maintain, and keep the well site secure.
The training facilitator plans to use the PHAST (Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Training) method to teach the above topics and more, and will return in July to hold a refresher training, check the new well, and assess if the community has made any progress.
Project Results: Training
Hygiene and sanitation training took place in a central part of Mukhonje Community. It was scheduled for three consecutive days, three hours a day. But when sessions started in the morning, attendance was very low. By 11AM, more community members showed, totaling 20. The facilitator discovered that most choose to be busy on their farms before the temperature rises in the afternoon.
The facilitator made sure to cover:
- Taking responsibility of the project
- Common diseases and their causes
- Blocking disease transmission routes
- Good and bad practices
By the end of training, those 20 community members realized the importance of what was taught. They were given step-by-step instructions about how to integrate new hygiene and sanitation practices into daily life. All participants appreciated the relevant and applicable sessions. One of the women, Mary Mushere, admitted that "I have been going, at some points, to defecate in the bush. But I have decided to use my latrine to avoid diseases!" Mary isn't the only one, but the convenience of the bush has a clear cost. Because of training, Mary can now share the importance of using latrines with her neighbors.
By the end of training, the community had also formed a water user committee in charge of security, management, and maintenance of the rehabilitated well.
Repairs on the Kakoyi community well began on April 12th. The team started by removing the old cracked well pad with chisels and mallets. When demolition was complete, they could mix concrete, sand, water, and cement to plaster a new well pad. This was then left to cure for three days before installing a new Afridev pump.
All the while, the community took care of the construction team by ensuring they had enough materials, meals, and security. No challenges were encountered from onset to finish of this project. Once finished, community members showed their obvious gratefulness. Local teacher Peris Siko said, "I thank SAWASHI for bearing with us! We loved the kind of work they did. I discovered teamwork, especially during the construction phase."
The Mukhonje Community is filled with the hope that this new rehabilitated well will be of great help to the community. We anticipate many smiles on the faces of women as clean, safe water relieves a heavy burden that was on their shoulders.
Thank You for restoring hope to the people of Mukhonje Community!