Majaso Human Development (MAHUDE) is an NGO working in Kenya to provide the local villages with clean water. Since 70% of East African hospital visits are due to contaminated water, we mobilized the members of the community to work on solving the dirty water usage problems and reduced hospital visits as a result. Since open water sources typically are more susceptible to being contaminated, polluted, or depleted by evaporation, we determined that an important part of reducing water-borne illness was protecting the springs. We used public health officers of the government to educate members of the Butsotso Central community through Self-Help Women and Youth groups and Church committees in Kakamega County. The groups provided information on how to protect springs and the importance of boiling water before drinking it. The rural community members in Butsotso Central were facing numerous water-born and water related diseases and complications. At least up to 45 percent of those that had access to our programs now handle water issues with awareness. Additionally, many people who did not participate in the program have still gained the knowledge from others and are benefiting significantly; as a result, instances water-borne diseases have been reduced by 20%.
In order to determine the scope of the problem, we did site mapping and identification, using the government’s planning and strategy paper of 2007-2009. We administered a baseline survey to those who lived in the area, and then held a one day workshop with them. During the workshop we were able to identify the local needs that were considered the greatest priorities.
Together, we prioritized the needs as: improving water sources to make clean water available, community education for adults and youths to create awareness on water-borne diseases, food availability to boost immunity, improving educational opportunities for children, peace initiatives, conflict resolution, social cohesion and tapping of both local and external resources.
After the baseline survey and priority setting, we held a workshop to map out steps to address the problems. Our mission was to provide clean water to eliminate water-borne diseases. We targeted two springs within one year to benefit 300 people. We invited self-help groups of women and youth that were already registered by the ministry of gender and culture to help address the problems. The group members were able to identify the existing water sources that needed attention. We proceeded to form project oversight committees that would take the steps to implement the strategies. We agreed that members would contribute $ 10 USD each within three months. We held a stakeholders meeting to discuss the reports and findings of the survey, the plans to address them and the methods to implement to ensure access to clean water.
We identified and recruited groups that were already working in the area, and held a meeting to form an oversight/implementation committee of seven members. We agreed on the water spring sites that needed protection after consultation with the government water ministry in charge of the region. We organized for resource mobilization, timed our activities, and agreed on a work schedule. We put the resources together and sought people with the technical experience to implement the spring protection.
We carried out a program evaluation to help us gauge what was being done and achieved. We conducted periodic on-site visits and checks, which enabled us to evaluate the results that were being achieved. The information from our regular evaluation visits enabled us to adjust the program along the way, such as replacing those who were unable to complete their work in a timely manner. Our evaluation showed that we had 95% success in terms of participation and achievement of the goals we had set.
The springs operate under local oversight committees that monitor them and make repairs as needed. We continue to provide training to the committees on group dynamics and operational strategies and the oversight committees hold review meetings with the stakeholders quarterly. And for the financial component of sustainability, they donate half a dollar (USD) for each member’s annual subscription; this money is for buying spare parts to help maintain the springs, or for responding to any needs related to the management and operation of the spring.
Our work with the local groups has resulted in two springs now being protected, offering a safer water supply, and in stronger efforts by the community members to use safe practices such as boiling water before drinking it. The use of clean water has considerably reduced water-borne infectious diseases and resulted in less hospital visits. The dropout rate in school attendance per term due to water-borne diseases has been reduced by 30 percent. The performance results in schools have therefore also gone up due to less water-borne diseases among school aged children.