December, 2020: Maraba Community, Nambwaya Spring Project Complete!
Maraba Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Nambwaya Spring into a flowing source of water thanks to your donation. Our team protected the spring, constructed five sanitation platforms for different households in the community, and trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices, including COVID-19 prevention.
Protected Nambwaya Spring
"Access to reliable and safe water from this spring will help build a good relationship among the community members. I will be able to take safe water, which will help my family and me live healthy lives. And, we will save the cash we have been spending on medical care for something else that is productive," said Thomas Anzetse, a small-scale farmer.
"This water point will help me utilize my time that I've been spending cleaning the water point to do something else since cleaning will now be easier than how it has been. I will be able to carry out income-generating activities, thus improving my standard of living".
A woman fills up her jerrycan from one of the two discharge pipes
Eddah Omulama, a dressmaker in the community, expressed how grateful she was for the protected spring because there was now something to differentiate herself as a water user from the other animals that used the spring in the past. She said that as a community, they have been competing for water with the frogs and cows since the spring was open, so it was hard to restrict the other animals from using it. This was a very touching moment to hear her perspective and story.
Children were just as excited as the adults about the new water point.
"Access to reliable, safe water will help me spend little time at the spring, which will enable me to have some time to play with my friends. Now that this water point is complete, I plan to achieve my dream of being a doctor. This is because I will no longer be sick due to dirty water, and also when I resume school in January, I'll be able to concentrate on my studies," said teenager Bevalin.
Bevalin celebrates the protected spring
Preparing for Spring Protection
Community members worked together to source and carry all locally available construction materials to the spring. These included bricks, sand, stones, and fencing poles. Some people also chiseled away at large stones to break them down into gravel. Because people have to carry most items by hand, the materials collection process can take anywhere from a few weeks to months.
Community members carry bricks to the spring construction site.
When everything was prepared, we sent a lorry to the community to deliver the rest of the construction materials, including the cement, plastic tarps, and hardware. Then, our artisan and field officers deployed to the spring to begin work. Individual households provided meals throughout each day to sustain the work team.
From Open Source to Protected Spring: A Step-by-Step Process
At last, it was time to dig in at the spring! Women and men lent their strength to the artisan each day to help with the manual labor. First, we cleared and excavated the spring area. We dug a drainage channel below the spring and several surface runoff diversion channels above and around the spring. These help to divert environmental contaminants carried by the rains away from the spring.
Digging a deep drainage channel.
To ensure community members could still fetch water throughout the construction process, we also dug temporary diversion channels from the spring’s eye around the construction site. This allowed water to flow without severely disrupting community members’ water needs or construction work.
Laying the spring's foundation
Excavation created space for setting the spring’s foundation made of thick plastic tarp, wire mesh, concrete, and waterproof cement. After setting the base, we started brickwork to build the headwall, wing walls, and stairs.
Next, we began one of the most crucial steps of spring protection to ensure a fully functional water point: setting the discharge pipe, or in this case, two due to the spring's naturally high yield. The discharge pipes have to be low enough in the headwall so that the water level inside never rises above the spring’s eye, yet high enough to leave eighteen to twenty inches between the pipes and the spring floor to allow room for the average jerrycan (a 20-liter container) to sit beneath the pipes without making contact.
Setting the discharge pipes
If the discharge pipes were placed too high above the spring’s eye, too much backpressure could force the flow to emerge elsewhere. Too low, and community members would not be able to access the water easily. We embedded the pipes using clay (or mortar when the clay is in short supply) and placed it at a slight incline to ensure water flows in the right direction.
Plastering the stone pitching to form the rub walls.
In coordination with brickwork, we pitched medium to large stones on both sides of the spring’s drainage channel. We then cemented and plastered each stone group into place, forming the rub walls. These help to discourage people and animals from trying to stand on that area, which could cause soil erosion and thus a clogged drainage area.
With brickwork and stone pitching completed, we turned to cementing and plastering both sides of the headwall and wing walls. These finishing layers reinforce the brickwork and prevent water in the reservoir from seeping through the walls. In turn, enough pressure builds in the reservoir box to push water out through the discharge pipe.
Cementing the stairs
As the headwall and wing walls were curing, we cemented and plastered the stairs and installed four tiles beneath the discharge pipe. The tiles protect the concrete from the falling water's erosive force while also beautifying the spring and facilitating easy cleaning of the spring floor.
Affixing the tiles to the spring floor
We transitioned to the final stages of construction with the tiles in place - backfilling the reservoir box. First, we cleared the collection box of any debris that may have fallen in since its construction, such as dead leaves or other items. Then we redirected the temporary diversion channels back into the reservoir box, channeling water into this area for the first time. We closed off all of the other exits to start forcing the water through the discharge pipes only.
Backfilling with clay
With much help from the community, we filled up the reservoir area with the clean and large stones they gathered, arranging them in layers like a well-fitting puzzle. We covered the stones with a thick plastic tarp to minimize potential contamination sources from aboveground, followed by a layer of soil. We piled enough soil on top to create a slight mound to compensate for the backfill’s future settlement.
Backfilling with large stones
Community members transplanted grass onto the backfilled soil to help prevent erosion. Finally, the collection area was fenced to discourage any person or animal from walking on it since compaction can lead to disturbances in the backfill layers and potentially compromise water quality.
Fencing and planting grass
The entire construction process took about two weeks of work and patience to allow the cement and plaster to finish curing. As soon as it was ready, people got the okay from our field officers to fetch water.
We officially handed over the spring directly following training to mark the community's ownership of the water point. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day, flowing in all directions. A small celebration saw community members singing songs of appreciation and thanks while dancing.
We completed all five sanitation platforms and handed them over to their new owners. These five families are happy about this milestone of having a private latrine of their own and are optimistic that people will no longer leave waste outdoors. We encourage families to finish building walls and roofs over their new latrine floors and for other families to replicate the design after having helped construct these examples.
An artisan puts the finishing touches on a sanitation platform
Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19 and More
Due to the ongoing challenges and restrictions amidst the pandemic, we worked with both local leaders and the national Ministry of Health to gain approval for a small group training about health, hygiene, and COVID-19 prevention.
A girl raises her hand at training
Together with the community, we found their preferred date for training while considering other community calendar events such as the agricultural season and social events. We requested a select yet representative group of community members to attend training, relaying the information learned to the rest of their family and friends. When the day arrived, Team Leader Emmah Nambuye deployed to the site with a team of facilitators to lead the event.
Trainer Elvin demonstrates the ten steps of handwashing.
30 people attended training, including representatives from local leadership and the area's Community Health Volunteer. Since there was not enough space at the spring to accommodate all the training attendees while observing physical distancing, we chose to use a home nearby the spring as the training venue.
Perhaps the most important topic of the day was our session on COVID-19 prevention. There has been considerable tension and panic about the novel coronavirus throughout Kenya, so this was a session everyone eagerly participated in, the trainers noted.
Homemade cloth mask-making tutorial
We covered crucial COVID-19 prevention topics including:
- Information on the symptoms and transmission routes of COVID-19;
- What physical distancing is and how to practice it;
- How to cough and sneeze into the elbow;
- Contactless greetings; and
- How to make and properly wear a facemask.
Team Leader Emmah helps a girl put on her new mask made at training.
Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the disease and provide extra information where needed. We also left behind a rice sack painted with messages of COVID-19 prevention reminders in the local language. We affixed the sign to the spring's fence during training and encouraged community members to use it as a daily reminder to stay cautious both at home and at the spring.
A community member and the Chair of the water user committee expresses his thanks to all who were involved in the protection of Nambwaya Spring, including his fellow community members.
"I am so impressed with the teachings I have received today. Being a dressmaker, I now have more knowledge about mask-making, which will enable me to make several masks in a day since using a tailoring machine is faster [than by hand]. Face masks being a way of controlling the spread and infection of COVID-19, this will give me a ready market, hence improving my living standards together with my family," said Eddah Omulama.
Eddah noted that another key new prevention measure they learned during the training was to wipe down with soap and water commonly touched surfaces frequently. She said she would try to integrate this new practice into her home and encourage her neighbors to do the same.
The most memorable topic was, indeed, the session on COVID-19. At the introduction of the topic, a young girl named Michelle stood and explained when the pandemic hit the world and arrived in Kenya in March. She even explained the modes of the virus' transmission and ways to avoid being infected. Michelle's speech impressed our team and gave us hope that with such a strong understanding of the pandemic, even among the young ones, this community would continue to be vigilant of their health and safety during this time.
Trainer Elvin leads the dental hygiene session.
We covered several other topics, including community participation in the project; leadership and governance; personal and environmental hygiene; water handling and treatment; operation and maintenance of the spring and sanitation platforms; dental hygiene; the ten steps of handwashing, and how to make and use a tippy tap and leaky tin. We held an election for the newly formed water user committee leaders during the leadership and governance session.
We also brainstormed income-generating activities that can be used to start both a community savings account for any future minor repairs to the spring and a cooperative lending group to enable members to develop their own small businesses.
"I've learned much today. For instance, I've been taking some things lightly about my own personal hygiene, such as not changing clothes after taking a bath - no wonder I've had continued skin irritation. I've also learned to keep the water clean and safe for drinking, right from the water point to the storage point. Finally, I learned that such a project brings about a good relationship among the community members. Before, we had issues among us when it came to cleaning the water point, but this time around, most of us came up to support the project with all we could until it was done," said Lucy Makokha, a small-scale farmer.
Getting a drink from the spring.
When an issue arises concerning the water project, the water user committee is equipped with the necessary skills to rectify the problem and ensure the water point works appropriately. However, if the issue is beyond their capabilities, they can contact our field officers' team to assist them. We will also continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program.
Thank you for making all of this possible!