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).
Like many other communities in this area, Matsakha B Community members work as peasant farmers who specialize in growing sugarcane. Some of these farmers also plant short-season crops like maize, beans, bananas, potatoes and other kinds of vegetables. The community places a high value on agriculture, since it is their main source of income. 350 people from 20 different households make Matsakha B their home. Even though a man is considered to be head of the family, both men and women in this community are the breadwinners. Most people are Christians who go to different churches such as Seventh Day Adventist or Friends Church Quakers. After school, children help their parents to do manual work like fetching water and attending to livestock.
The Current Source
Kenya Finland Company decided to dig a hand-dug well for the Matsakha Community in 1987. The pump was soon after stolen and most likely sold in parts. Being 8.7 meters deep, this well is a reliable water source through even the dry seasons. However, without a pump, the water is now unprotected. The community decided to attach a bucket to rope for fetching the well's water, since they could not afford a new pump.
Mothers and children carry their own plastic jerrycans to the open well, pouring until their containers are filled. During our visit, we noticed that families are doing a good job keeping their water containers cleaned. We learned that they clean them by scrubbing and rinsing both inside and outside. When they get the water home, it is poured into larger clay pots. Many families have two pots; one meant for drinking and the other for chores.
Considering how the well is open and allows dirty rainwater and other contaminants inside, we have decided that Matsakha B is an appropriate selection for a rehabilitation. There is proof of this community's need in the many reported cases of typhoid and diarrhea.
Over 75% of households have a pit latrine made of mud with an iron sheet, cloth, or timber for a door. Just as many families have a bathing room to use for personal hygiene, and helpful tools such as dish racks and clotheslines. Most households dispose of their garbage in the surrounding fields and plantations. No hand-washing stations were observed. Hygiene and sanitation training will be especially helpful in encouraging the families practicing healthy behaviors to share with and teach their neighbors about what they known.
Community members are invited to attend training for three days. The facilitator will use the PHAST (Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Training) method to teach the following topics and more:
- Disease transmission
- Proper food preparation and storage
- General household hygiene
- Waste disposal
- Forming a strong water user committee
The above topics were hand-picked by the facilitator who visited the community. Members of the water user committee will be selected during training, and will be responsible for overseeing and maintaining the rehabilitated well.
Project Hardware: Well Rehabilitation and Hand-Washing Stations
The old well will be cleaned out, the well pad removed and rebuilt, and a new Afridev pump installed. Right before the pump is bolted down, the well will be flushed and chlorinated. All of these steps will ensure that the well's water is protected as it was in 1987.
Two hand-washing stations will be delivered in time for training so that they can be used for demonstrations and practice. The community will be taught how to fill, clean, and maintain the hand-washing stations. They will all learn about how important it is to use a cleaning agent such as soap or ash.
During our initial visit, the local government leadership ensured that the whole community is aware of the ongoing plans to rehabilitate their water system. The rehabilitation of this old well will empower the community members, especially women and children, who are in charge of providing water for their families. To ensure proper maintenance of the water system, the local leadership will be part of the water user committee.
Project Results: Training
Hygiene and sanitation training was held in Matsakha B Community under a tree near the well. Sessions were planned based on the specific needs we identified during our initial engagement with the community. Attendance was low, but everyone who showed up eagerly participated in every session. Nonetheless, we were able to verify that there was at least one member of each local household present. We counted a total of six women and three men; there tend to be more women interested in training because women are the family members primarily responsible for domestic tasks like cleaning and fetching water.
They used illustrations to lead discussions on good and bad hygiene practices and disease transmission routes. The community also identified some of the most common diseases in their area and when they occur. Participants split up into groups and used poster paper to brainstorm their ideas. By the end of training, all nine got to practice the steps of proper hand-washing.
We consider training a success because each household promised to change their attitudes about practicing good hygiene. Before, they thought taking these measures were a waste of time. Now, by drawing connections between negligence and disease, the community is setting goals for transformation. They wish to ensure that every household has a latrine and bathing room. They have also established a water user committee that will manage and maintain the rehabilitated well.
The construction process began on June 9th.
The existing well had a worn out well pad, so we started by demolishing the old surface of the existing well pad to leave the foundational bricks exposed. The cover of the well was removed, allowing enough room for leveling of the broken top edges of the culvert lining. This was followed by plastering of the pad using a mixture of cement and sand. We then coated the well pad with a cement mixed with waterproof cement. This was then left to dry for several days.
The well development (flushing) was done by a compressor. Test pumping of this well was conducted using a submersible pump. Yield testing was used to ensure a constant flow of water over a period of time. Next, we installed the AfriDev pump on the new well pad. This was followed by installing the riser main PVC pipes with a cylinder attached at the bottom. Anchor ropes we attached and lowered into the well to the desired depth, and later tied onto the steel plate on the pump head. Rods were fitted with a plunger at the bottom end and lowered. Last but not least, the handle was attached and the pump head covered.
All the while, community members provided the sand and tools necessary for well pad construction. They were there to constantly lend a helping hand. Mothers from different families prepared meals for our construction teams, and the men provided storage and security for our tools and machinery.
The water user committee established during community engagement will manage and help maintain the rehabilitated well. They have our contact information in the case of a serious breakdown. Our monitoring teams will be responsible for checking that this well is always providing water for the community, and our repair team will be mobilized in the case that the water system fails.
The two hand-washing stations were also delivered in time for the well’s handing over ceremony.
There was a gathering after rehabilitation to celebrate the new well for Matsakha B Community. The community is grateful to have their water point in place after a very long time in search of safe and clean water. They promised unite their efforts in ensuring that their water well is safe and maintained. They were also thrilled to have lessons on hygiene and sanitation practices that will improve lives. They hope that if they maintain proper hygiene and sanitation, there will be no death from drinking dirty water and eating contaminated food.
At the celebratory gathering, local farmer and father Joseph Shemu said, "We are so happy for providing us with as source of safe and clean water. Previously, we used to get our water from River Chebwayi, which was highly turbid and often required boiling so as to kill germs before using. The previous methods of withdrawal [from this well] was risky to children fetching the water, due to the open hole."
Thank You to all who made this project possible!