Clean water transforms childrens' lives

LIfe has its challenges for Imelda, a young mother living with her husband Frank in a one-room house in Kisumu’s informal settlement of Obunga.

She has her hands full with twins of just under a year, as well as six year old James. Imelda works hard to make the home clean and safe for her family. But some things are beyond her control as she explains.

“During the rainy season water drains from the nearby area, we have some toilets there. The landlord dug a shallow hole and put the toilet there. So when the water comes, it’s like sewage. Like a river that runs around the houses. It smells so bad. You can’t leave the door open. It’s hard to control the children during this time. We have to pay to use the toilet, shared by 20 households. It costs 10 shillings (7p) per visit, the same price for children too." 

Recently Imelda left the twins with her neighbours while visiting the doctor.  Unfortunately the neighbours gave them dirty water and they became sick with diarrhoea and vomiting. The local tap water has been treated but the pipes burst, and because people defecate in the open it contaminates the water. She took them to the hospital and they were given medication and eventually recovered. But she faces a constant struggle to keep the children clean. Like all little ones, the twins love to put things in their mouths and aren’t keen on washing their hands!  

"It’s very tough when they’re sick, by the time I clean one, the other needs cleaning!" she continued.

Imelda has seen many children in the area stunted by malnutrition caused by frequent bouts of diarrhoea and is determined to keep her children healthy. She has taken part in the project's community training and makes sure her children don’t play near the pools of sewage and piles of rubbish that lie around. She is teaching them proper handwashing and making sure that her neighbours understand its importance too.

Through the Safe Pair of Hands project, Obunga's water pipes are being repaired and extended.  This will bring clean water within 50 metres of every household in her area. Imelda is delighted. Not only will they have clean water to drink, but it will make handwashing much easier and she will have plenty of water to wash the twins' nappies. Our project staff are also working with the landlords in the area to encourage them to improve the toilet facilities.

Thanks to these improvements, Imelda has a stronger chance of keeping her children healthy.

Total sanitation in Kisumu

Water, sanitation improvements and hygiene education in two of Kisumu’s slums, Nyalenda and Obunga to reduce the spread of water borne diseases.

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