The Community Barazza, gaining support from the community and official representatives, and hiring of a mason (contractor):

Our goals this past week were to gain the support of the Water and Sanitation of Vihiga, the county, the village elders, and most importantly the community. We also wanted to hire a mason, also known as a contractor, who will be building the fence, the repairs to the pipe of the water springs and building the stairs.

This past week we decided to add one more spring into the pilot project. We want to ensure we are able to monitor and evaluate the success of the pilot project. From speaking to officials and village elders we realize to obtain quantitative data of the entire catchment population of Wasundi village, we need to include all three springs. The third spring is called Iskira. Iskira water spring is in quite good condition compared to the other two springs, which was initially why we thought we would only include the two springs.

 Iskira water springs:

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We began on Monday with a meeting in Sabatia with the Water and Sanitation official. The gentleman we met gave his approval for the pilot water springs project. He let us know he was very pleased we had come to gain his support and advice. The Water and Sanitation representative agreed to give us proper sketches of each of the water springs. We will share these sketches with the mason to ensure the springs are not altered in any way when he repairs the pipe. Also, the sketches and village elder will help the mason know the perimeter for the fence of each spring without building on anyone’s private property. The Water and Sanitation official also agreed to attend and speak at the barazza.

 Secondly this week the local Alison and I are working with helped us find a mason (contractor) who had done similar work with water springs. We met with the mason on Thursday to view the springs, discuss labor costs and sign a contract. The team and the mason walked to the view each spring so that he would be able to get a better visual of the work to be completed and whether or not he feel confident taking on the job. After viewing the springs we sat down and discussed the needed supplies, cost of labor and a work plan/timeline. On Friday the mason sign his contract. This Monday the mason and his team will begin working on the first spring- Wakidamane. We are estimating that Wakidamane spring will take about three weeks to complete, and then we will move onto Keneswa spring.

 On Friday we held the community barazza to let the community know about the project and gain their support. We also wanted to provide an opportunity for them to voice any concerns. The barazza was held outside, in an area that was central to all three springs in Wasundi village. We had representatives from the Water and Sanitation, the Ministry of Health (MOH), a village elder from each of the springs, and the chief of the area. Each representative introduced him or herself and gave a small speech about the water springs project. Many community individuals came up after the barazza to communicate how happy they are for the work to be completed on the three springs, which was very reassuring.

 Some pictures from the barazza:

The mason and village elders:

 

 

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The chief and village elder

Image The team: village elders, chief, representative from the MOH, representative from the Water and Sanitation

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The Water Springs: Initial viewing and Planning:

This past week we chose the two water springs that we will be focusing on this summer. The springs are called Kesenwa and Wakidamane and they are found in the Wasundi village of Vihiga district. According to the village elder we are working with the springs are used by approximately 30-50 households each day, sometimes twice a day, which we estimate there are about five people or more per household. We visited Kesenwa and Wakidamane water springs last Thursday to see the initial quality of the springs to better visualize the work to be completed this summer and develop a work plan.

 Wakidamane water springs:

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Wakidamane spring is in the poorest condition of the two springs. As you can see from the pictures, it is on a very steep incline to walk down and up to with a full 20-liter jerry can. Secondly, there is water leaking from either side of the faucet/pipe. This indicates that there are holes in the pipe causing the flow of water to be decreased. Thus, when people fill up their jerry cans it takes a long time, while they could be tending to the cows, their garden, or taking care of the house and their children. We are also seeing the springs during the rainy season, when the water table is high, and therefore in January during the dry season the flow of water is decreased even further. The pipe has started leaking because people are using the pathways directly above the springs, and also cattle are grazing above the pipe, which is compacting the ground and causing pressure on the pipe, resulting in the pipe to burst and have small holes. Thirdly, the area around the spring is not restricted in any manner. This leaves people to access the spring from all directions, and also people allow their cattle graze closely to the spring. Then the cows sometimes use this area as a bathroom, and unhygienic material seeps into the ground and into the water. Finally, there are no proper steps down to and from the spring and this provides the opportunity for people to slip and fall and potentially break their jerry can or hurt themselves, especially during the rainy season.

As a result we are planning to build a fence as far as possible around the water springs without going onto anyone’s property, and building a gate into and out of the springs. This will ensure no livestock can graze around the water springs, and people must follow one pathway reducing the compression on the pipes. This will allow for the best quality, flow, and sanitation of water. We also plan on digging up the pipe and either replacing, or fixing the pipe so that the water springs can return to its maximum water flow. Finally, we plan on building proper, and safe steps to the springs to reduce the chances of people hurting themselves.

 Kesenwa water springs:

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As you can see Kesenwa springs is similar in needing the pipe to be fixed and a proper fence and entrance into and out of the spring. However, this spring has a relatively proper set of stairs to and from the springs.

In the upcoming two weeks we plan to meet with the local chief of the area to propose our idea and gain his support, and plan for a community barazza (meeting). At the community barazza we will propose our idea to the community to gain support, and ask whether there is anything we are missing and need to include in our proposal. Finally, we are planning to meet with the local Department of Water and Sanitation to also propose our idea and gain their support and any further guidance.

Wish us luck!