Community capacity building on WASH is a key factor in contributing to the well-being in terms of the health of a specific community. WASH education builds capacity within communities so that they understand safe water practices and they are observed from source to mouth. Besides economic empowerment through social enterprises, the provision of clean and safe water for drinking, The Maa Trust has continued to educate the community on the importance of good sanitation and hygiene.
On Wednesday, August 2020, The Maa Trust team led by Simon Kipila, Project Officer- WASH conducted a training on the importance of having toilets at home and the risk of open defecation to 76 community members. For the longest time, most Maasai communities have believed in open defecation due to cultural practices and norms that do not allow men, and their daughters to share toilets.
During the training, the members from the community were taught on the importance of having toilets at home and the risk that open defecation poses to them. Forty-five percent of those who attended the training said they have access to toilets. This showed the importance of addressing toilet cleanliness as well to help avoid creating hazardous spots at home that contribute to the spread of diseases related to poor sanitation.
“Let us take in what we are being taught in such pieces of training and during church sermons, let us persuade our husbands to build us toilets and also take the message to those who did not attend the training. This will help us become an open defecation free zone" shared Nasha Kaleku, Village elder.
The members were given an opportunity to share their opinion about having toilets and we were so glad to hear that even the men in the community were encouraged to adopt this.
“To build a toilet, one does not need to have a lot of money. One can use locally available materials to construct a toilet. As long as the toilet is safe and clean for use, then you have saved yourself from diseases that are caused by human waste” stated John Mpoe, Chairman Nkoilale Community Development Organization.
In addition, water sanitation and hygiene were also addressed (WASH). This included encouraging the people to brush their teeth regularly to avoid tooth decay, the importance of handwashing, and the situations where and when one is needed to wash hands, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. The importance of bathing which is a key element in Menstrual Hygiene Management(MHM) in both girls and women and the overall personal hygiene practices that may jeopardize the health of a person.
“I urge my fellow women to observe good WASH practices because we are at home most of the time as compared to our husbands. Let us educate our children on handwashing, teeth brushing, using toilets properly, and giving them help when necessary. Let us use the minimum resources to improve the sanitation situations at our homes, by doing this we will be able to have healthy and happy lives.” Magdaline Nkurumwa, Maa Beadwork Nkoilale Production Assistant.
Magdaline further explained that even when a water source is clean, but the collecting containers are not sterile, water is not treated and the storage containers are not thoroughly cleaned then the water collected is not safe for consumption
The training was attended by both men and women. This has continued to reduce the gap between men and women. Before because of culture, men were not allowed to discuss hygiene matters especially MHM with their women.