Kapsiongo is a beautiful village in rural Kenya. It is surrounded by fields and dusty footpaths and is just a short distance away from the hustle and bustle of the local town, Ndanai. The village is one of the largest in the region with a population of 1,453, many of whom work as farmers. Kapsiongo is also home to the Barimen family. Joseph works as a mechanic serving the local community, he has 6 children some of whom attend the local primary school situated in the village.
Just a few years ago Kapsiongo village was a very different place to live. Joseph and his family, like many people in Kapsiongo and the surrounding villages, did not have access to clean water or a safe and private toilet at home or in the community. This meant that every day he and his family had no option but to defecate in the open. This practice was not only uncomfortable but also had serious health repercussions for both Joseph and the people of Kapsiongo village as it caused sickness that kept the children from going to school and their parents from going to work.
Joseph is one of many who knew his community deserved better, so in 2019 he became a Community Health Champion, working alongside others from Bomet County and Dig Deep staff to implement a water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in schools programme at Kapsiongo Primary.
“In 2019, I decided to further support my community by becoming a Community Health Champion and working alongside Dig Deep to promote health at Kapsiongo Primary School. The project delivered 50,000 litres of water to the school and installed 15 toilet cubicles, providing children with the means to stay in school and a sense of dignity, and translated into a 56% reduction in absenteeism.”
"The interventions at the school also benefited my community as it reduced hygiene related infections everywhere since the school children were empowered with disease prevention strategies that they could also use at home. I am very grateful to this programme as it has had a great impact on my community and also gave me the opportunity to earn an alternative income to pay the school fees for my children.”
Joseph and the other Community Health Champions, supported by Dig Deep, didn’t stop there. Following the success of the WASH in schools programme the team worked together to roll out Community Led Total Sanitation training in Kapsiongo village to bridge the gap in water, sanitation and hygiene in the community. This resulted in the village being declared open defecation free in 2020 and all families in the community having access to their own household latrine and handwashing station.
“When the village attained Open Defecation free status, school children could easily practice the hygiene practices both in school and at their homes”
Following this intervention and the life changing impact it had on his family, Joseph has continued to work with Dig Deep to deliver this life saving training to other villages across the region. Joseph is now an important member of the Dig Deep Kenya team who is working with the Bomet County Government to encourage the wider community to build their own toilet and handwashing station at home so that families are able to protect themselves against Covid-19. With clean water and hygiene in place, children and adults are now better protected from infection, diseases and injury; and are able to live healthy lives.