April, 2021: Olando Spring Project Complete!
Mushikulu B Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Olando 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 protected spring.
"Access to reliable, safe water from this water point will help me to confidently drink water because I am convinced that it's clean. The completion of this water point has been a great eye-opener to most of us. We have learned the power of unity, and therefore we intend to do much more as a community to help us live good lives," said 70-year-old farmer Mwanaisha Omumia.
Mwanaisha Omumia (left) and Everline Rapando pose at the spring.
Children were just as excited as the adults about the new water point.
"I will not be sick because of drinking dirty water. I feel good about our new source of water with clean water. I will be fetching water for my mum and my grandmother. I will not get tired of going to the spring because it looks good," said young Rahma.
Rahma plays with the 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.
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.
Laying the foundation in the excavated area.
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.
Next, we began one of the most crucial spring protection steps to ensure a fully functional water point: setting the discharge pipe. For this spring, we actually installed two discharge pipes 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. This allows 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.
Stone pitching plastered into place
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 pipes.
As the headwall and wing walls were curing, we cemented and plastered the stairs and installed four tiles beneath the discharge pipes. 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 pipes only.
Planting grass and building fence
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.
Protected Olando Spring
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 at Olando 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.
We officially handed over the spring directly following training to mark the community's ownership of the water point. During the dedication and handing-over ceremony, the water users sang songs of celebrations as they danced. Mzee Osundwa gave a vote of thanks to The Water Project and prayed for God's favor upon the organization. We could read bright and happy faces which appreciated clean water, said the field officers who attended the event.
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 Jacquey and Elvin deployed to the site to lead the event. 15 people attended the training, including community-based leaders, the local village health volunteer, and teachers from area schools. We held the training outside under a tree in a community member's home near the spring. The location allowed for easy physical distancing, and practicals that required water from the spring.
Physical distancing check at training.
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 at the spring.
Ibrahim Chetambe demonstrates toothbrushing
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.
Peletina Oloyo demonstrates handwashing up to the elbow.
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.
"The training has really been helpful to me and the entire group. First of all, I have known the value of cleanliness, and this will keep me away from infections, hence a healthy living.I have also been reminded about the COVID-19 pandemic and I will go back to taking all the preventive measures, including avoiding brewing places of chang'aa, and concentrate on my farming activities. I wouldn't like to loose my life because of my own ignorance and carelessness," said Ibrahim Chetambe, the elected Secretary of the water user committee.
Ibrahim washes his hands.
"I have also learned the importance of good relationships and unity bringing about victory and blessings. And, therefore, being one of the officials, I will always advocate for relationship and unity amongst ourselves so that we may be able to rise up as a community and do great things," Ibrahim explained.
"The training helped me realize the importance of washing hands regularly with soap and running water. I used just to wash hands most of the time without soap and even in a basin and told myself I had washed hands, but now I will always ensure my family and I use soap and running water to prevent ourselves from contracting the virus," said Everline Rapando.
Everline Rapando washes her hands at the spring.
"The most helpful part of COVID-19 sensitization training that I received was about mask making and washing hands with running water and soap. I will ensure I wash hands and wipe surfaces with water and soap. I will also ensure that my children put on clean masks as they go to school for their safety," Everlyn continued.
"Ever since the pandemic hit the country, we avoided going for chamas, we stopped attending funerals and any other gathering.We could not leave homes without a face mask, we also made homemade handwashing stations such as leaky tins, though most of them didn't have soap."
Trainees demonstrate contactless greetings.
"We are still worried about the virus, though not so much. Nowadays, we attend chamas, funerals, and other political gatherings. However, when our children and husbands who reside in places such as Nairobi or Mombasa come back to village, they seem to be a threat and so people avoid them and don't shake their hands for greetings because they are believed to have the virus," she 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 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!