Safe pair of hands

In Kenya, a powerful mix of improved access to sanitation and better hygiene education is helping clean up slums and protect the people who live in them.

Active Project

The Challenge

Kisumu is Kenya’s third largest city. Most residents live in informal settlements without access to clean water or toilet facilities, causing serious health problems.


  • Many landlords only provide a single toilet for multiple families to use. These are often in poor condition, rarely cleaned and don’t include hand-washing facilities.
  • Lots of people go to the toilet outside, so everyone has to live with poo everywhere.
  • All this poo attracts flies who spread diseases like typhoid and dysentery.
  • The pipe network is old and in need of repair, so the water supplied is often contaminated.
  • Diarrhoea is a common problem for children. It stops them getting vital nutrients, and causes malnutrition and stunted growth.
  • With nowhere to wash hands safely, diseases are easily passed between people and outbreaks are common.

“Children would suffer from diarrhoea and stomach aches. There was a time when there was a cholera outbreak and one of our staff members passed away.”

Rose Odero, school teacher, Obunga

The Ingenious Solution

We improved sanitation and hygiene practices by supporting the local community to take the lead in creating new systems and services to ensure clean, safe water and toilet facilities for everyone.

These are some of the project’s activities:

  • Design sessions were conducted with locals before fixing 3kms of water pipeline extensions, and constructing 2500 new water points alongside supporting 2750 households with children under 5 to build handwashing facilities.
  • We showed families, teachers and those caring for children how to practise good hygiene and how diseases were spread. Keeping children safer.
  • This was supported by the creation of a ‘hygiene promotion and early childhood health working group’ to conduct public health campaigns and provide educational materials to spread the word within the community. Increasing awareness.
  • We trained up community water operators to take charge of resource management, infrastructure maintenance and payments.
  • Supporting local artisans to manufacture low-cost soap and other handwashing facilities.

“We teach people how to wash their hands properly before and after eating to avoid communicable diseases. I’m passionate about sanitation. I was born and grew up here and want to change it. That is why I volunteer. We must do something to help.”

Maurice Ongawo, Community Health Champion, Kisumu, Kenya

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Please select how much you'd like to give, as a monthly or single gift. Your support will fund our work in poor communities all around the world.