March, 2021: Panyako Spring Project Complete!
Shianda Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Panyako 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.
Mama Babu fetching water from the completed spring.
"Access to clean and safe water will play very vital roles in my life. I anticipate better health standards as a result of consuming clean water from the protected source. I will significantly improve my sanitation and hygiene standards. Above all, with the economic empowerment strategies I received from our facilitator, poverty is going to reduce tremendously," said David Panyako, the spring's landowner and elected Chair of the water user committee.
"Already, this water point has created the unity which was missing among some homes. This water point will help me achieve my economic plan of having a commercialized fish pond."
David Panyako holding a glass of clean water from the spring.
Children were just as excited as the adults about the new water point.
"Having clean water will definitely play a significant role in boosting my health standards, and this will help me excel in my studies as I will be able to attend to my studies 100%. The spring has minimized the time taken to draw water, and this has allocated more time to study," said Brenda, a teenager and secondary school student in the community.
Emmanuel enjoying the flowing water.
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.
Delivering 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.
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 to allow room for the average jerrycan (a 20-liter container) to sit beneath the pipe without making contact.
Setting the discharge 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 at a slight incline to ensure water flows in the right direction.
Field Officer Jacky prepares stone pitching areas.
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.
Plastering the stone pitching.
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.
Plastering the interior of the headwall.
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.
Backfilling with clay and large stones.
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.
Fitting the tarp to the catchment 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 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.
Fencing and planting grass
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.
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.
Mama Rose overjoyed at the completed spring.
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.
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, relaying the information learned to the rest of their family and friends. When the day arrived, facilitator Jacky Chelagat deployed to the site to lead the event.
Field Officer Jacky and a community member demonstrate alternative contactless greetings to the traditional handshake.
21 people attended the training, including the local village health volunteer. We held the training outside near the spring under the shade of trees. The venue was spacious enough to maintain physical distancing among the participants, and the shade provided comfort and a breeze.
Perhaps the most important 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. 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.
Jacky and Mama Rose demonstrate the ten steps of handwashing using the tippy tap they built at training.
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.
Mary practices handwashing using the tippy tap.
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.
Our session on the maintenance and sustainability of the spring was the most memorable. Community members asked many questions about the best ways they can maintain their spring. They all committed to ensuring their spring is well taken care of to ensure it continues to provide clean water for many years to come.
"People perish due to lack of knowledge. The training was well conducted, and the acquired knowledge will help me be a better person both in my home and in the entire community. I am well sensitized on matters of sanitation and hygiene, which I promise to implement to be a healthy person," said David Panyako, the spring's landowner and elected Chair of the water user committee.
Brenda (right) helps hold the cloth for Jacky to cut during the homemade face mask tutorial.
"As a school-going student, I was privileged to acquire a lot of information that will help me to be conscious of my hygiene and sanitation standards. This will translate to better health and good academic performance," said teenager Brenda, who also attended the training.
"Making and wearing masks was one area our community members were well conversant with. However, the majority would not wear the masks appropriately because they claimed that the COVID-19 virus was only contracted by people in big towns and the rich," Brenda added, noting some of the more popular myths about the virus in Kenya that the facilitators addressed.
Helping fit a new mask to Bernard.
"The facilitator went further and demonstrated how to make and use a tippy tap. This motivated members, and each promised to be washing their hands all the time. After receiving information on COVID-19 and its prevention measures, the trained participants promised to be washing their hands frequently, abstaining from gatherings, observing proper social distancing, and wearing masks," Brenda said.
"After receiving much information on how to prevent me from the virus, I am not that worried. I understand prevention is far better than a cure."
Mama Angel leaving the spring with clean 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' team to assist them. Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program.
Women wave in thanks at the spring.
Thank you for making all of this possible!