RESULTS / LESSONS LEARNT
Colilert and Petrifilm tests performed by FOTO staff repeatedly demonstrate that the main drinking water sources in Lower Nyakach, rivers, streams, and ponds are contaminated and pose a high or very high disease risk. When contaminated water is treated with water guard, subsequent Colilert and Petrifilm tests most often are negative for E. coli. When water is heated in a Cookit solar cooker to melt the WAPI wax, all subsequent Colilert and Petrifilm tests are negative for E. coli. The visual nature E. coli positive Colilert and Petrifilm tests before chlorine or heat, contrast with negative tests after treatment providing striking evidence-based microbiology and an understanding that water sources are contaminated and that treatment eliminates the contamination.
As a result of FOTO’s activities, the use of Water Guard has significantly cut down on the incidences of waterborne diseases in households where it is used. Distribution of WaterGuard in schools has also reduced significantly the stomach related illnesses which were very common as a result of children drinking water from rivers. WASH program is increasing awareness and incidences of hand washing and hygiene in homesteads.
Use of the portable Microbiology Laboratory PML to involve communities in water quality monitoring, in addition to water quality and sanitation education, has led to more than 90% awareness between water quality and disease. It provides communities with an efficient and easy method of testing water and empowers them by giving them an awareness which was unavailable to them. The people of Lower Nyakach are thus empowered and teach each other on the importance of treating water before drinking.
SIGNIFICANCE OF WORK
The strategy of involving communities in evidence-based microbiology testing of water sources, and providing inexpensive treatment options to impoverished families has reduced the burden of water-borne disease in Lower Nyakach. This could be replicated throughout Kenya and in other developing countries to reduce the disease burden of ~800 million people not affected by MDG 7C.
This major achievement has been possible because women , who have very little or no formal education at all were dedicated to serving their community and bringing the much needed change to save peoples lives. At first it sounded like jagrgon but slowly they began to understand how important it was to help the people live healthy lives by drinking safe water.
The women have by learning micro biology and teaching the community benefited in many ways namely;
- Gained a lot of respect in the community and even men really respect them for the work they are doing because they are seeing changes in their house holds. Children and adults do not suffer diarrhea diseases as much as before and even the children from school tell their parents what the women from FOTO teach them and the children insist the house holds have to treat drinking water and wash their hands at all times to keep away germs.
- The women have gained special status in the community and are ranked with the community leaders
- They are referred to as teachers by the community and everybody naturally accepts that
- They have developed sense of self worth and appreciate what they are doing for themselves as well
- They have become confident and competent in what they do and an envy of other women in the community. They teach with confidence even in gatherings where dignitaries are
- The families are happy with what their mothers are doing and even their husbands are happy to identify with them because they bring home something for the family
- Their economic status has improved because they are given allowances for the activities they do. They are able to pay school fees for their children, pay medical bills and provide basic needs for their families besides buying cattle, goats, sheep and chicken
- They are able to dress well and carry themselves with dignity
- They have bicycles which they use to transport themselves in the community giving them a special social status in the community.