Day In the Life of a Water and Sanitation Worker in Kenya

People have been asking what a typical day looks like for me here in Kuria, so here goes:

6:30 a.m. We wake up to the rooster crowing (oh wait, he crows pretty much all day). I put on my flip-flops and head for the choo (toilet) out back. The squat provides a great morning leg workout.

6:35 a.m. I throw on the propane and boil a kettle of water. It’s bucket bath time. I head out back to the “bathroom” (four walls and a ceiling of concrete with a drain, one door down from the squatty potty), suds up and pour a few scoops of water over my head. All clean!

7:00 a.m. I make my breakfast of instant oatmeal, Nescafe, and juice. I take some time to read, journal and reflect on what’s in my heart, then get in a bit of “office” work before I leave for the field.

8:30 a.m. After a full application of sunscreen I lace up my waterproof shoes, load up my bag with my GPS, a camera, a tiny notebook , a bottle of water, some toilet paper (just in case), and two PB&J sandwiches (one for me and one for Lucas). I walk down the pot-holed road outside our house and meet Peter, our very prompt and enthusiastic Boda Boda (motorbike) driver. I hop on the back and away we go.

9:00 a.m. We arrive in Nyametaburo (Kuria) and I meet Lucas, my local counterpart. We set off together on a hunt for water sources. We climb hills, jump streams, visit homes, investigate springs, survey people fetching water and speak to principals and teachers at schools. We get stuck in the mud, stopped by herds of cattle and followed by huge crowds of curious children yelling with glee, “Mzungu (white person), how are you?”

4:30 p.m. By the end of the day I’m sweaty, nearly sun burnt and very thirsty. I hop on another Boda Boda and swing by the market to pick up some beef (cut right off the cow that’s hanging in the open window), fruits and vegetables for dinner.

6:00 p.m. As Doug and Jake make dinner, I attempt to process the data I collected during the day (using Google Earth, spread sheets, and Word docs) and determine how it shapes the rest of my week and our water/sanitation program.

7:00 p.m. We eat together as a team. Usually we eat Ugali (a Kenyan staple made from maize flower, Doug’s a pro at making it!) and beef stew (Jake is the master chef!).

7:30 p.m. I’m in charge of general order and cleanliness of the house and I wipe down the dining table (really our cocktail table), stove (2-burner stovetop powered by a big propane tank) and any other area that could attract bugs.

8:00 p.m. I squeeze in a bit more “office work,” as well as continue to plan the entire water/sanitation program, prepare my water quality testing equipment, keep up on my research, answer emails, etc.

9:00 p.m. We fire up the lantern, cover ourselves in bugspray, and settle in on the couch for our nightly tradition of watching old episodes of the West Wing.

10:30 p.m. Maybe a bit more work, maybe not. Then, we wash up in the yard. If it’s raining (which it often is) we actually brush our teeth in outside in our rain coats. We make one last choo stop, get ready for bed, tuck our mosquito nets tightly under our mattresses (if you could call them that), and crash. We sleep hard and get up ready to do it again. I love this job!

About Nicole Scott

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