The 500 people of Rwebigwara Kyakagenyi have two options for water, and neither is pleasant.
The closest is a local dam that is shared with grazing cattle, who defecate in and around the water as they drink. This water is a murky brown with debris and vegetation floating inside. People who drink the water untreated, especially children, suffer from typhoid, diarrhea, and skin rashes.
"We have challenges with water," said 12-year-old Isaac K (shown above). "We fetch water from the dam, and this is a very dangerous area because if one falls in that dam, he or she cannot survive. The water is also dirty because we share it with animals. We cannot drink water from the dam because I fear to get sick."
One would think that anyone would choose the community members' other option, which is a protected borehole well in another community. However, this borehole is so far away that it would be nearly impossible for Rwebigwara's people to collect water there every day. The nearest homes to the well are 1.5 kilometers away, while the farthest are a little over 2.5 kilometers away—a grueling trip lasting one to two hours.
Because the water sources in this area are so few, when people arrive at the distant borehole, they are often met with others already waiting to fill their jerrycans. This wait time extends the water-fetching chore time even longer.
It's no wonder that people only end up collecting enough water for the most basic purposes.
"I am always affected by the water scarcity, especially during the dry season," said 18-year-old Shubrah Naigaga (shown above at the dam).
"There are days I don't even mop the house because the little water available is reserved for cooking and washing dishes. I can't use [the] dam water for cooking food, therefore, I travel a long distance to get safe drinking water. When I have no bicycle, I have to carry the water on my head, which is so tiresome."
“Households with travel times greater than 30 minutes have been shown to collect progressively less water. Limited water availability may also reduce the amount of water that is used for hygiene in the household.” (The Relationship between Distance to Water Source and Moderate-to-Severe Diarrhea in the Global Enterics Multi-Center Study in Kenya, 2008–2011) - American Journal of Tropical Science and Medicine
"When we want drinking water, we get it from the next village called Katakungirwa and the distance is very far," said Isaac. "So we end up wasting a lot of time, yet we [have] other activities to do like washing dishes [and] cooking food, so all these activities are delayed because of the scarcity of water."
A closer water source will free up so much time for Rwebigwara's people and improve their health.
Note: Our proposed water point can only serve 300 people per day. We are working with the community to identify other water solutions that will ensure all 500 people in the community have access to safe and reliable drinking water.
Here’s what we’re going to do about it:
This new borehole is an exciting opportunity for this community! We work with the community to determine the best possible sites for this well.
We conducted a hydrogeological survey and the results indicated the water table is an ideal candidate for a borehole well. Due to a borehole well's unique ability to tap into a safe, year-round water column, it will be poised to serve all of the water needs for this community, even through the dry months.
Community members will help collect the needed construction materials such as sand, rocks, and water for mixing cement. They will also provide housing and meals for the work team, in addition to providing local laborers. We will complement their materials by providing an expert team of artisans and drilling professionals, tools, hardware, and the hand-pump. Once finished, water from the well will then be used by community members for drinking, handwashing, cooking, cleaning, and much more.
Training’s main objectives are the use of latrines and observing proper hygiene practices since these goals are inherently connected to the provision of clean water. Open defecation, water storage in unclean containers and the absence of hand-washing are all possible contaminants of a household water supply. Each participating village must achieve Open Defecation Free status (defined by one latrine per household) prior to the pump installation for this borehole well.
This social program includes the assignment of one Community Development Officer (CDO) to each village. The CDO encourages each household to build an ideal homestead that includes: a latrine, a handwashing facility, a separate structure for animals, a rubbish pit and a drying rack for dishes.
We also implement the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach with each of our village partners. This aims to improve the sanitation and hygiene practices and behaviors of a village. During these sessions, village leaders naturally emerge and push the community to realize that the current practices of individual households – particularly the practice of open defecation – are not only unhealthy, but affect the entire village. CLTS facilitates a process in which community members realize the negative consequences of their current water, sanitation and hygiene behaviors and are inspired to take action. Group interactions are frequent motivators for individual households to build latrines, use them, and demand that other households do the same.
The aim is that all households own an improved latrine. Many households do not use a latrine but use the bush. Due to open defecation, feces are spread all over the village. This leads to waterborne diseases and contamination of groundwater and surface water. Our aim is that the community is able to live a healthy life free of preventable diseases. We endeavor that at the end of our presence in the community, people will have both access to sustainable, clean water and access to sanitation. We have now organized families to form digging groups for latrine construction, and empowered them with tools to use.