There was a significant safe water problem in Gansembye Village. The only proximate sources of water were shallow wells in the low lying area close to swamps. As well as being contaminated from various vectors (wildlife, livestock, poor sanitation and plant material) these water sources tend to dry up during severe dry seasons. As a result there were many cases of waterborne diseases and illnesses in the village.
With little access to information relating to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), open defecation was quite common, along with a minimal awareness of the importance of hand washing. This lack of knowledge about good hygiene and sanitation resulted in high levels of preventable illnesses such as diarrhoea, dysentery, worm infestation and skin diseases. The prevalence of such illnesses combined with the time taken to collect water resulted in many children being absent from school. It also affected many villagers’ ability to pursue income generating activities.
In September 2012, work began in Gansembye Village on a borehole project undertaken by Just a Drop in conjunction with local partner, Butterman Out-Reach Centre for Community Health services (BORCCH), and sponsored by Llanllyr Source.
The aim of the project was to drill a borehole well in Gansembye Village in order to provide clean water to the community. Approximately 2,000 people benefited from this project in Gansembye, with the women and children being particularly impacted as before they were spending several hours every day walking around six kilometres in order to fetch potable water for household needs.
- To provide a safe water source close to the village by constructing a borehole
- To promote sanitation and hygiene awareness
- To reduce distances walked in search of water
- To reduce water-borne diseases
- To encourage growth and development.
This project was undertaken by Just a Drop in partnership with JaD’s local partner BORRCH. Implementation began with a village meeting. Community members were encouraged to take part in the whole process including deciding on the location of the borehole and offering this land for the project. This first meeting took place on the 4th September 2012 at Mzei Batuli’s home. Mr. Batuli, a 79 year old man, played a substantial role in mobilizing the community members before a committee was elected.
The villagers contributed with locally available materials as well as providing food and accommodation for the workers to sleep. They also helped with the clearing of the bush. This helped to create a sense of ownership of the project.
The local community have also been trained on how to maintain the water source and ensure that a list of all water users is prepared and kept by the secretary of the committee. This water user committee was democratically selected with six community members – a chairperson, secretary, treasurer, two care-takers and one committee member with a representation of women and young people. This committee also helped in mobilizing the community during the construction period and drilling.
The community was trained about the importance of prioritising proper hygiene and sanitation as a measure of improving their quality of life and reducing disease. This was done through open discussion with the aid of training materials. All participants were able to contribute ideas, knowledge and experience on how to improve their hygiene and sanitation best practices e.g. hand washing before eating and after visiting latrine.
Baseline Survey on WASH:
- Findings from a baseline survey carried out by local partner BORRCH and the water user committee showed that pit latrine coverage was 75%, resulting in 25% of the community practicing open defecation
- Interviews and open discussions revealed that diarrhoea, dysentery, malaria and vomiting were commonly reported illnesses in Gansembye and surrounding areas
- The survey revealed that only 5% of the community practiced hand washing after visiting a pit latrine
- 30% of existing pits were without any superstructure on them i.e. doors, walls, and roofs
- The survey found that 62% of the villager’s stored drinking water in clay pots, 18% use plastic containers and 20% have no water collecting facilities at all but borrow from neighbours or alternatively use their clay cooking pots
- The survey also found that many homes had no dish-racks or rubbish pits.
Training of the Water User Committee (WUC):
The water user committee members were trained in their roles and responsibilities through open discussion, idea sharing and interactions. This included:
- Mobilising the community on water user fees after completion of borehole
- Collecting community contribution fees; this money is to be kept with the treasurer in a safe with three padlocks. The Treasurer keeps keys for only one padlock at her home, the Secretary another and the chairperson holds keys for the third padlock. At the time of opening, all three members must be present. This money is then used for maintenance and repairs
- Preventing children from playing around the water source and keeping animals away from facilities. A fence has been erected for these reasons
- Making by-laws governing the water source to ensure proper functioning. For example, no one is allowed to collect water beyond 9pm
- Maintain the facility eg through regular cleaning of the well and water storage equipment in order to avoid contamination
- Call regular monthly community meetings to show accountability for the fee collecting
- Clean and clear the environment around the water source
With regard to hygiene and sanitation, local partner BORCCH is providing hand washing facilities in the form of small jerry cans as a way of promoting good practice after visiting a pit latrine. This will help to reduce the spread of diseases like diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera etc. Ten tippy taps were installed and used as demos, the rest of the community members are encouraged to buy these for themselves and put them in place.
Poverty led to the inability of many community members to meet the costs associated with the practice of good hygiene and sanitation. For example they were unable to build permanent latrine structures or purchase hand washing facilities.
Most of the community members do not naturally give priority to hygiene and sanitation which as a result exposes them to poor hygiene and poor sanitation related diseases like cholera, typhoid etc. WASH training was therefore seen as an essential element of the project.
Since the soil profile of the Gansembye area is very stony, it was a huge challenge to find an area for the project. The original chosen area was in someone’s garden however it was feared that their crops could be damaged. Therefore, another site was chosen by the community.
With Llanllyr Source’s support much has been achieved by Just a Drop in Gansembye Village. Firstly the building of the borehole brought a clean water source in close proximity to 2,000 people in the community thus reducing illness caused by water-borne diseases and freeing up women and children to spend time on constructive activity such as employment or schooling.
Many community members previously did not wash their hands after visiting a latrine. Through education the community has now learnt about good sanitation and hygiene practice.
Eleven homes were found without latrines at the beginning of the project and the local leaders encouraged them to dig and construct pit latrines themselves. By the end of the project, eight had completed their latrines and the remaining three were still digging their latrines. Although they are temporary structures, it has been an achievement to change their culture of open defecation. It is hoped that as the community sees the benefit of good hygiene practice they will be encouraged to build permanent structures.
Reported cases of vomiting, dysentery and diarrhoea have gradually decreased since the implementation of the project.
Our sincere thanks to Llanllyr Source for making this project possible.
Date of Project: November 2012