Kenyans taking care of Kenyans!
Kenya may be WaterStep’s most active country, servicing over XXXX people. Our extensive team of Ambassadors, Field Consultants, Health Education trainers, bleach business owners and local non-profits who use WS equipment have spread throughout the country. Kenya was the home of WaterStep’s first African project led by Ambassador Raphael Wanjala in 2013. Many participants in that initial project have gone on to service many areas of Kenya and beyond.
Safe water an issue in Kenya, especially in the rural areas where there is no municipal water, water is often fetched from a near-by watering hole that is highly contaminated and shared by animals. Another troubling issue is the availability of affordable disinfection. Bleach is extremely expensive in Africa; in some places it exceeds $30 per gallon. Most recently, during the worldwide COVID pandemic this left people without the resources needed to protect their families from this deadly virus.
WaterStep’s International Field Consultants and Ambassadors go to great lengths to help neighboring communities care for their own water supply. They teach community leaders the process of chlorination, using WaterStep’s m-100 ChlorineGenerator that will provide up to 10,000 gallons of water each day. They also share the technique of making bleach to be used as a disinfectant along with teaching health education and best hygiene practices.
In 2018. WaterStep created a business development kit to provide international entrepreneurs a means to monetize WaterStep’s BleachMaker. The BleachMaker is a portable and cost-effective device that produces lifesaving disinfectant using only salt, water, and a power source. The Business Development kit contains everything someone needs to start a business using the BleachMaker. Each kit includes a BleachMaker, business plan template, labels, and marketing materials.
Raphael Wanjala | WaterStep Ambassador
One of the countries where WaterStep has had the greatest impact is Kenya. Part of the reason for this success is the work of Raphael, a native of Kenya and WaterStep Ambassador. Raphael grew up in western Kenya and later moved to Nairobi to study at a university. He eventually obtained a graduate degree and taught health science, ecology, and biomedical sciences at a university. He was a part of a missionary congregation that occasionally took trips to the United States. At a meeting in Maryland, he met someone who was connected with WaterStep and thought they could help with the overwhelming water problem in Kenya. Raphael contacted WaterStep, and they said they would train him and provide him with the equipment he needed. When he returned to Kenya, he told his students about WaterStep, and many of them were interested in helping with a project to bring clean water to a slum of Nairobi. Raphael and his students received online training via Skype, and learned to use WaterStep’s equipment and teach basic hygiene principles.
The slum houses at least 15,000 people, and because of the lack of running water, many retrieve water from “water points,” which are simply spots with communal faucets that often function as peoples’ only water source, and the slum lacks proper sewer infrastructure, so sewage contaminates the water as well. A seminar was held at a school in the slum for students, parents, and teachers. He taught basic health and hygiene principles including handwashing. Then he installed an M100 water purification system in the school. He did a similar project in another place in the community from which many people retrieve water. In addition, Raphael and his students partnered with another organization and installed toilets in the slum.
After several years of working with WaterStep, Raphael became a WaterStep Ambassador in 2019. His mission in this new position is to expand WaterStep’s territory. He has travelled all around Kenya finding communities that are interested in working alongside WaterStep to continue bringing clean water to all parts of the country. He runs training sessions to teach new partners about WaterStep, the equipment, and health and hygiene practices.
With the outbreak of coronavirus in March 2020, Raphael was able to assess how effective the bleach making trainings were. For seven months prior to the outbreak of corona, Raphael had trained groups all around the country to make and distribute bleach to communities. These trainings turned out to be very timely because after the pandemic hit Kenya, Raphael’s teams of partners became even more active in distributing bleach and teaching communities how to stay safe and healthy from coronavirus. A town on the coast was supposed to be a hotspot for corona, but they have seen very few cases. Raphael attributes this to the diligence of his team in educating the locals on how to use bleach for sanitization. Raphael says his task now is to continue training people and distributing bleach to villages around the country.
When Raphael and his team teach others about bleach making, health, and hygiene, they are met with much gratitude. However, the demand for clean water grows daily as he discovers new communities that need to be reached. He is constantly finding places to go and share WaterStep’s resources and train people to live hygienically. He was even able to reach the Massai people, an indigenous people group that is very traditional and rarely accepts change. However, they were extremely receptive of the training Raphael and others offered and now have access to clean water in their community. By working with WaterStep, Raphael experiences much fulfillment as he is part of a solution to the overwhelming water problem that his nation faces. He loves mentoring and training others and working with public health officials to bring bleach and clean water to the places that need it the most. He is excited to continue building partnerships and training others, as he believes everyone in Kenya needs a share of WaterStep.
Humphrey Muchuma | WaterStep Ambassador
Humphrey grew up in a village in Western Kenya as the oldest of six children. As a young man, he moved to Nairobi City in search of a job, but instead, he ended up in the Kiambiu slum, the largest and most destitute slum in the city. Living conditions were dreadful: there was no sanitation or sewer system, and sewage leaked everywhere across the slums. Water in any condition was scarce, and food was nowhere to be found. Humphrey was brought out of the slums, however, when someone sponsored his education, and he was able to attend university. While there he studied social work, community development, and sustainable human development. Humphrey was taking an ecology class discussing the issues of sanitation, climate change, and sustainable development. His teacher, WaterStep’s Ambassador Raphael Wanjala mentioned he had just met some people who worked for WaterStep. He asked the class if they would be interested in implementing a WaterStep project. Immediately, Humphrey thought of his experience in the slums and the reality that thousands of people live without clean water or the basics for hygiene and sanitation. He approached his professor and told him that something needed to be done for those living in squalor without access to water. His professor connected him with WaterStep, and Humphrey attended training sessions for water sanitation and hygiene and started partnering with them on projects.
Ever since his initial contact with WaterStep in 2014, Humphrey has worked alongside WaterStep to bring health and hygiene awareness to as many communities as possible. He has since moved back to Western Kenya and is now married with two children. His passion for reaching villages to teach them about health and sanitation stems from his love for his own community and the people in it. The greatest water challenge facing Humphrey’s home community is water contamination and transportation. Most of the sickness within the community stems from using unsafe water. Humphrey’s compassion for mankind has propelled him to help communities install an M100 water purification systems and train people in sanitation and good hygiene practices.
In addition to his work in his own town, Humphrey travels to surrounding areas to install M100’s and conduct training. Many respond to the information he gives them with, “It’s this simple? I cannot believe it!” The readiness with which communities accept the WaterStep training excites Humphrey and makes him even more passionate about his job. He loves that people embrace new information and are eager to change their way of life in light of it. He is encouraged by seeing the transformation that takes place within communities and households and even within his own home. “My children know they don’t touch food without washing their hands!” he says.
Though Humphrey works regularly with entire towns, he also trains hospital staff in sanitation procedures. For example, he worked in the Kabuchai Subcounty Hospital not far from his house. The hospital serves a population of 11,420 people, and it has a maternity wing, a lab, and a care center for people living with HIV/AIDS. Unfortunately, funding for hospitals in Kenya is low, and this particular hospital could not afford the cleaning equipment to disinfect their floors and other spaces. In order to solve this problem, Humphrey helped them install an M100 and trained them with a bleach maker so that they could produce their own bleach to clean with. Humphrey also trained doctors and nurses on sanitation and hand washing. Humphrey’s newest project is leading a team that will produce bleach for all 300 health institutions in Bungoma County, Kenya.
You can often hear Humphrey say, “I will not stop until WaterStep is a household word.”
Paul Owino | WaterStep Field Consultant
In the West, the means for sanitation are often taken for granted. Almost everyone has easy access to cleaning supplies like soap and bleach. However, this is not the case for many parts of the world. Even when people are educated on how to stop the spread of disease through sanitation, they do not always have the resources to buy bleach and disinfectants. In light of this, one of WaterStep’s partners in Kenya, Paul, trains and equips people to make and sell bleach in order to make a living. Paul is a native of Kenya and worked in community health for ten years before connecting with WaterStep. When he first contacted WaterStep, he learned about the M100’s and BleachMakers and the huge impact they could have on towns in Kenya. He explained that the only available bleach in Kenya is very expensive and most people could not afford a simple disinfectant.
WaterStep was in the midst of creating a Business Development Kit to provide entrepreneurs a means to monetize WaterStep’s BleachMaker. The Business Development Kit contains everything someone needs to start a business using the BleachMaker. Each kit includes a BleachMaker, business plan template, labels, and marketing material.
Paul Owino was excited and ready to run a pilot program and has been testing the product and its’ monetization abilities in Kenya. He has since created a movement in bleach distribution and health education and is creating jobs along the way.
From the very beginning, Paul was concerned with the lives of fellow Kenyans in a holistic sense. He not only cared about their hygiene practices, but also about their jobs and ability to pay the bills and provide for themselves. Many people were unemployed and could not live up to a healthy hygiene standard because they did not have money to pay for bleach.
Because of his entrepreneurial bent and concern for the welfare of others, Paul started a bleach making business with the WaterStep BleachMakers. He travels around the country to recruit people from all different communities. In particular, he seeks to employ single women who are not married or whose husbands left them. Running a bleach making business empowers them and allows them to support themselves. He then trains people on how to use the WaterStep equipment and helps them set up a business to sell bleach. They charge enough to make a living yet keep the bleach affordable for the common people in order to promote a clean, healthy lifestyle. Paul occasionally faces setbacks when he visits new communities on recruiting trips because of the belief systems of many people. Often, people believe that water is a gift from God so it is wrong to suggest that it needs to be cleaned or altered before using it. They do not think water can carry diseases, and rather it should be taken as it is without any purification. However, once Paul is able to break through the cultural barriers, training becomes easy, and most people are receptive and willing to change their hygiene practices. Because many people are illiterate, Paul uses slides with pictures for training. These pictures show general hygiene practices such as hand washing; they also depict how to operate the BleachMakers. In addition to sanitation and hygiene instruction, Paul trains others on how to run a business and brings them the necessary equipment to run the business. Once people start their bleach making businesses, Paul expects them to train others in order that they can reach as many communities as possible.
Paul’s vision for the future is to reach all of Kenya’s 47 counties. After that, he wants to extend the bleach making business to other countries like Uganda and Tanzania. He faces many challenges such as traveling around to find partners and helping financially support those who want to start businesses but do not initially have enough capital. However, any challenge is worth it to Paul, because at the end of the day, he sees smiles on the faces of those who were previously hopeless, and he experiences the joy of those who can support themselves by running their own bleach making businesses. In addition, because of the businesses Paul has helped start, waterborne diseases in many communities are decreasing. Through Paul’s leadership in Kenya, countless people are now able to earn their own livings while also promoting a hygienic lifestyle across the whole country. Paul’s model of build, franchise, empower and distribute is proving to be the answer for a booming bleach business in Kisumu County, Kenya and beyond.
Even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic which is keeping his business busy supplying disinfectant, Paul has begun his goal for 2020-2021. You will find him working in one of 50 villages that he has slated to bring safe water, sanitizer in the form of bleach and teach health education.
He is a man on a mission, and he allows God to lead the way.