April, 2021: Lubale Spring Project Complete!
Emutetemo Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Lubale 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.
Community members celebrate the completed spring.
When asked how the newly completed spring might impact her life, community member and local teacher Selpher Keya Shiundu said the biggest impact would be the prevention of waterborne diseases."
"A lot of the users of Lubale Spring are young children, and we do have a school nearby called Emutetemo Primary School. The cases of waterborne diseases are going to decrease greatly. This will reduce the cost of medication because when someone gets sick with typhoid, it costs greatly because you have to transport them to the hospital, and that's just one of the hidden costs," Selpher said.
Selpher Keya Shiundu fetches water.
"Cleanliness will now be available in the homes," responded Martin Kabunga, the elected Chair of the water user committee and a Sunday School teacher on the weekend. "Having a trustable source of water is also encouraging - waterborne related diseases are no longer going to be a problem."
A mother with her baby at the spring.
Children were just as excited as the adults about the new water point.
"I will no longer get diarrhea and typhoid, which used to be a problem amongst us. We actually knew it was from the spring water, but we had no option. Having clean water now makes me happy," said teenager Kellian.
"Water from the spring can bring life for fish farming and vegetables and trees that can be a source of income. As you can see, we do have the land!" Kellian said.
Kellian fetches water at the spring.
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.
Community members help carry construction materials to the spring.
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.
Community members of all ages lent a helping hand in mobilizing materials.
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. We also noticed a group of young children who came to each mid-day to see if they could help with the work. We found out these were learners from Emutetmo Primary School, located just 500 meters away, on their lunch break. The pupils were curious and excited to see the project in action and be a part of it.
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.
Laying the foundation
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.
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.
Raising the walls
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 at a slight incline to ensure water flows in the right direction.
Cementing the headwall
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 rub walls
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 walls
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.
Backfilling with clay
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.
Passing large rocks down to the artisan for backfilling.
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 soil layer. We piled enough soil on top to create a slight mound to compensate for the backfill’s future settlement.
Planting grass inside the fencing
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.
Protected Lubale Spring
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.
Women pose at the spring.
We officially handed over the spring two days after completion. Since we completed work on a Friday, we had to wait for Monday to go back and officially hand over Lubale Spring to the community. On that morning, a small group of community members gathered for a prayer of thanks and danced to songs and music while receiving their new water point. This was an important moment that marked the community's ownership of the water point. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day flowing in all directions.
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, who will relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends. When the day arrived, facilitators Adelaide Nasimiyu, David Muthama, and Jacky Kangu deployed to the site to lead the event.
Trainer Jacky shows how to use the elbow for safer sneezes and coughs.
16 people attended the training, including members of the local self-help group and community-based leaders. Martin Kabunga, the now-elected Chair of the water user committee, helped mobilize community members to attend. We held the training in the homestead of Mama Zaituni Nechesa Okanga, located about 30 meters from the spring. The tress provided good shade in her homestead, and since it was early morning, we did not suffer the midday heat. We set up a small learning area with chairs provided by Mr. Kabunga.
Trainer Adelaide (left) next to Zaituni Nechesa Okanga demonstrating the ten steps of handwashing.
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. 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 in the spring.
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.
Trainer Jacky shows how to sew a mask.
We also brainstormed income-generating activities that can be used to start community savings account for any future minor repairs to the spring and a cooperative lending group to enable members to develop small businesses.
The session on COVID-19 became the most memorable due to the thorough discussion on myths and rumors surrounding the virus and related vaccines. One community member, Celpher Saitoti, said she did not trust the COVID-19 vaccines, saying she believed they would make her age faster. The Facilitator, Trainer Jacky, explained to Mama Saitoti the importance of taking the vaccine and assured her that what she had in mind was only a myth.
Martin Kabunga addresses the group at training.
Another special topic was mask-making and wearing. When someone asked a question about the importance of wearing a mask, "a lot of cheeky answers shot up, like, 'town ladies are using masks for swag,' and 'hiding from people that you have a debt to settle with,'" recalled Trainer David Muthama. The group was then able to discuss the medical and social importance of mask-wearing in public. At the end of the training, the facilitators passed out new, reusable cloth masks to all training attendees.
Facilitators pass out new cloth masks to training attendees.
"The training has helped me, and now I do believe that COVID-19 is real...I now accept it's not all a lie and myth from the urban town folks," said Mama Zaituni Nechesa Okanga, who manages the chlorine dispenser at the spring to help people double ensure the water they take home is safe and clean.
Mama Zaituni Nechesa Okanga
"With the new knowledge, we can now make masks in bulk and help where possible - even the children in the community are going to benefit," said Martin Kabunga, the elected Chair of the water user committee and a Sunday School teacher on the weekend.
Martin said he is worried about the virus "because many people think it is just a myth. My key concern is to secure containers and make leaky tins to be placed at the entrance of every homestead to make handwashing a lifestyle amongst us."
Celebrating clean water flowing at 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 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!