September, 2020: Litinye Community, Shivina Spring Project Complete!
Litinye Community now has access to clean water! Shivina Spring has been transformed into a flowing source of water thanks to your donation. We protected the spring, constructed 5 sanitation platforms for different households in the community, and we trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices including COVID-19 prevention.
Community members celebrate the completed spring
"We shall no longer waste time waiting for the water to clear up. Instead, very few minutes will be taken to draw water...As community members, we shall have development projects to do because the money that was spent on medication will be shifted to development," said Mary Mulanda, a 45-year-old farmer in the community.
Mary Mulanda washing her hands using a leaky tin set up during training.
Children were just as excited as the adults about the new water point.
"We shall not waste our precious time as in the past," said teenager Ben. "Very little time will be taken to draw clean water and that will allow us to have time to do our [homework] revisions. With this protected spring, we are assured of good health. Since we [as a community] had good coordination during the implementation period, we shall continue working together for the betterment of our 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.
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. While the field officers traveled to and from the site each day throughout the construction process, the artisan remained in the community. To accommodate him, individual households provided meals and a place to sleep each night.
The last step before construction commenced was taking a water sample from the unprotected spring. We sent the sample to a government laboratory for testing to identify the kinds of contaminants in the water before its protection. These often include fertilizers and pesticides from farms, animal and human feces, and any number of harmful bacteria. We then shared the test results with the community to identify extra steps they could take to help ensure the spring’s water remains clean and safe after protection.
Women delivering large stones to the spring construction site.
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 the environmental contaminants identified in the pre-construction water quality test.
Excavating the spring while a girl fetches water from it before the water was temporarily diverted.
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 the construction work.
Forming the cement slab foundation of the spring floor and stairs
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 the stairs.
Setting the pipe in the headwall
Next, we began one of the most crucial steps of spring protection to ensure a fully functional water point: setting the discharge pipe. The discharge pipe has to be set low enough in place in the headwall so that the water level inside never rises above the spring’s eye, yet high enough to leave 18-20 inches between the pipe and the spring floor to allow room for the average jerrycan (a 20-liter container) to sit beneath the pipe without making contact.
If the discharge pipe 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 easily access the water. We embedded the pipe 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.
Pitching stones into a rub wall.
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 cement and plaster both sides of the headwall and wing walls. This reinforces the brickwork and prevents water in the reservoir from seeping through the walls. In turn, this builds enough pressure in the reservoir box to push water out through the discharge pipe.
Installing the tiles
As the headwall and wing walls were curing, we cemented and plastered the stairs and installed 4 tiles beneath the discharge pipes. The tiles protect the concrete from the erosive force of the falling water, beautify the spring, and facilitate easy cleaning of the spring floor.
Backfilling with large stones and clay
With the tiles in place, we transitioned to the final stages of construction - 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 pipe only.
Community members plant grass over the backfilled area
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 sources of contamination 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.
Community members transplanted grass onto the backfilled soil to help prevent erosion. Finally, the collection area was fenced in 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.
Clean water flows from Shivina Spring
The entire construction process took about 2 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 begin fetching water. We met them there to celebrate this momentous occasion. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day flowing in all directions.
Lead Field Officer for the project Betty Muhongo, together with the community members, sang songs of praises and dances to glorify God for enabling them to have their spring protected. Everything was successful despite the extra challenges and precautions related to COVID-19.
All 5 sanitation platforms have been completed and handed over to their new owners. These 5 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 are continuing to 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.
A family stands with their new 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. In Litinye, the Area Chief was the one to help us organize training on the condition that we would adhere to all the rules and guidelines put in place by the Ministry of Health. We assured him the ministry had already agreed to support our teams as essential workers, and so we were allowed to continue as planned.
Trainer Betty asked community members to wash their hands before sitting down for training. Betty showed how to make simple handwashing stations and demonstrated the 10 steps of handwashing to kick off the event.
Together with the Area Chief, we found the community’s preferred date for training while considering other events in the community calendar such as the agricultural season and the national coronavirus-related curfew. We asked the Area Chief to gather a select yet representative group of community members who would attend training, and then relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends. When the day arrived, Lead Facilitator Betty Muhongo deployed to the site with a small team of trainers.
A girl washes her hands before training.
16 people attended training, which we held in the afternoon. This was because during the morning hours, most community members would be on the farm since it was planting season. We held the training under a tree and the environment was good for learning.
We covered several 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 10 steps of handwashing, and how to make and use a tippy tap and leaky tin. During the leadership and governance session, we held an election for the leaders of the newly formed water user committee.
The Water Committee leaders elected during training.
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, as well as a cooperative lending group to enable members to develop their own small businesses.
Observing physical distancing to attend training.
Perhaps the most important topic of the day was our session on COVID-19 prevention and specific guidance in line with national and international standards. There has been tension and panic all over about the coronavirus in Kenya, so this was a session everyone eagerly participated in, the trainers noted. We covered:
- Information on the symptoms and transmission routes of COVID-19
- What physical distancing is and how to practice it
- How to cough into an elbow
- Alternative ways to greet people without handshakes, fist bumps, etc.
- How to make and properly wear a facemask.
Trainer Betty leading the session.
Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we also dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the disease and provide extra information where needed.
Mr. Jeremiah Webo
90-year-old Jeremiah Webo was in attendance at training, and remarked at the end that even he learned a lot throughout the day on the different topics presented. The training was certainly valuable, he said.
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 team of field officers to assist them. In addition, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program.
Thank you for making all of this possible!