May, 2021: Kwalukhayiro Spring Project Complete!
Makale Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Kwalukhayiro Spring into a flowing source of water, thanks to your donation. Our team protected the spring and trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices, including COVID-19 prevention.
Women pose in celebration at the completed spring.
"This water has automatically secured our health is protected. I believe I won't spend more money on water-related disease treatment. This is a great relief for me," said Mary Nashimi, a farmer in the community.
"Now that I'll be spending less time at the spring collecting water, I'll be able to have enough time to work on my farm. This means that I'll have a better yield."
Mary celebrates the completed spring.
Children were just as excited as the adults about the new water point.
"I'll be able to help my mum around in terms of fetching water. She can rest assured that I will be bringing her safe water home, unlike before. With this spring protected, I intend to take more time studying my books. I can fetch the water very fast, do other house chores, and sit down to read my books. I am sure of improving in my studies now," said young teenager Sammy.
"Community members at Kwalukhayiro Spring are overwhelmed with joy over the protection of this spring," reported Field Officer Lillian Achieng' upon the project's completion.
"The song and dance that was witnessed after the completion of this spring is enough evidence. The Area Member of the County Assembly, Mr. Kelvin Mahelo, was of great help in mobilizing the locally available materials. The community remains appreciative to the donors for changing their lives through this spring protection."
Singing and dancing to celebrate the spring's completion
Preparing for Spring Protection
Community members worked together to source and carried 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 the gravel. Because people have to carry most items by hand, the materials collection process can take anywhere from a few weeks to months.
Women deliver materials to the spring work 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.
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.
Laying the 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 spring protection steps to ensure a fully functional water point: setting the discharge pipe. The discharge pipe has 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 pipe and the spring floor. This allows room for the average jerrycan (a 20-liter container) to sit beneath the pipe without making contact.
Setting the pipe
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 access the water easily. We embedded the pipe using clay (or mortar when the clay is in short supply) and placed it slightly incline to ensure water flows in the right direction.
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. This helps discourage people and animals from standing on that area, which could cause soil erosion and thus a clogged drainage area.
We turned to cementing and plastering both sides of the headwall and wing walls with brickwork and stone pitching completed. 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.
Floor and tile plasterwork while catchment area is backfilled with large stones
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 beautifying the spring and facilitating easy cleaning of 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 pipe only.
Planting grass during site management portion of training.
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.
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.
Clean water flows
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. The field officer in charge handed over the water point to the community members without a formal dedication ceremony with the construction works completed. The community members sang and danced to celebrate the new water point.
Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19, and More
Due to the ongoing challenges and restrictions amidst the pandemic, we worked with local leaders and the national Ministry of Health to gain approval for a small group training about health, hygiene, and COVID-19 prevention.
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 representative group of community members to attend training to relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.
When the day arrived, facilitator Lillian Achieng' deployed to the site to lead the event. Thirteen people attended the training, including community-based leaders. The attendance was lower than expected as many community members were busy on their farms preparing for the planting that is due. We held the training in community member Mary Nashimi's compound. The participants sat on the ground within the compound, which had enough shade provided by the available trees.
Demonstrating how to build a compost pit
Perhaps the most crucial topic of the day was our session on COVID-19 prevention and control. 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 virus 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.
Participants practice hands-free greetings.
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; 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 a community savings account for any future minor repairs to the spring and a cooperative lending group to enable members to develop small businesses.
Tree planting session
The most memorable session was the general and personal hygiene portion, as it engaged the community members in several practical activities, including tree planting and garbage collection and disposal. The community members named the trees they planted during the session their "TWP trees" in honor of The Water Project.
Holding a tree sapling planted during training.
Water handling and storage was the second most memorable topic as participants got to wash a water storage container. Many participants admitted that it was common to add water into the storage container without washing the container first. It was also unknown to the group that not changing the water in the container every three days can consume contaminated water.
A woman cleans her water storage pot as part of the session on safe water collection and handling.
"All along, I have thought that once the spring is protected, then the water cannot be contaminated again. Today I've learned that I can contaminate the water after drawing it and before it reaches home for storage. Through this training, I've learned how to handle my water properly," said training host Mary Nashimi.
"We had dropped our guard in terms of wearing masks while in school. From this training, I've learned that mask-wearing is very important to keep the virus away. I will continue practicing this, even if my friends won't," remarked teenager Sammy, reflecting on the COVID-19 prevention portion of the training.
"Including my very own home, many community members had put some handwashing stations in their homes for anyone visiting to wash their hands but had recently died out. With this training, I believe everyone will take these measures and precautions seriously, like before."
"Our trainer emphasized contactless greetings. Many of my community members and my fellow pupils back at school had gone back to shaking hands. I won't shake hands anymore since this will make me get infected if I touch my eyes, nose, or mouth," Sammy continued.
"As I had stated earlier, we will go back to restoring our handwashing stations that had indeed been neglected. We will ensure we wash our hands regularly with soap and water."
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 to assist them. Also, 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!