One of the most important aspects of a GROW trip is the contribution that we make to our partner organization, Kitovu Mobile. Today, we began the first day of our project, in which we visited neighboring villages to conduct a community survey as well as several individual interviews. To do this, we split into two pairs, each coupled with a translator and a packet containing both survey and interview questions. Questions in the former category were designed to assess the level of progress made by local communities, measuring statistics such as the average amount of time needed to travel to a clean water source, and what percentage of the community had access to hygiene-related amenities, including pit latrines and tippy-taps. Answers for these questions were largely quantitative, useful for compiling graphs and charts for comparison to results from previous years. Interview questions were designed to assess the progress of our hygiene/sanitation process on a broader basis. We asked questions designed to determine factors such as which hygiene practices still required implementation, as well as future goals for the community.
Being able to visit local villages and speak with individual community members proved to be a positive experience, as we were able to develop a better idea of the range of Kitovu’s outreach. Promoting hygiene and sanitation comes in many forms, and includes providing the funding for the construction of wells and latrines, as well as educational programs designed to inform and provide instruction to community members. There is a great deal of diversity between villages when it comes to levels of hygiene and sanitation. While some communities may have adequate access to important hygiene and sanitation implements and are focused more on areas for growth, others may still be trying to acquire the resources needed to install the same infrastructure. Many of the statistics we covered were surprising; for instance, it can take upwards of three hours roundtrip for community members to reach their local water source, while also having to make up to four trips there in a single day.
As with any project, problems can arise and make progress difficult. Some limiting factors include the reluctance to adopt new practices and make the necessary efforts required to install constructs such as wells and latrines. Also, attendance at meetings designed to promote hygiene and sanitation awareness can be poor. One of the most important future goals to consider is increasing interest in these issues, as well as increasing the understanding of its importance. In addition, more readily apparent issues such as lack of funds and distance to aid organizations continue to hinder development.
With several more villages to visit in the upcoming days, we have plenty of opportunities to learn more about the local communities and how Kitovu’s outreach has affected them. As always, we’ll try to keep you posted. Hope you all are having a great summer!