Project Status



Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 150 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 12/14/2022

Project Features


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Mwilima Spring is found in Malava County, just a few kilometers from Kasere Forest, making the environment very cool, especially early in the morning and late in the afternoon. The area is part of the Kakamega Rainforest, making it green and beautiful, with gently sloping hills offering unique serenity.

This community relies most on farming for their livelihoods. The surrounding fields contain black cotton soil, which favors the growth of sugar cane and other crops like groundnuts, beans, sweet potatoes, cassava, and maize. Other community members have small businesses like selling goods to fend for their family's needs and wants.

The water crisis is a major challenge to this community of 150 because it makes the sole water point very congested. Overcrowding at the water point makes every person adjust their daily schedule. They have to wake up by 6 in the morning to go and collect water before the line becomes too long.

"The water source is open, and every time you come to collect water, you find water dirty. The next person coming for it might mistake you for dirtying it, and they may punish you without you committing any mistake," said Ashivenda H., age 9.

The water point is open to contamination because it is not enclosed, and foreign substances from people, animals, dirty containers, and nearby run-off enter the water and make it unsafe. Community members have improvised with a plastic pipe to make it easier to collect water, but they do not have the resources for spring protection construction.

Waterborne and water-related diseases are common, especially during the rainy season or a dry spell. The number of users and contamination increases because more people use the spring due to their shallow wells drying up.

"Currently, due to the dry spell we are experiencing, a lot of the community members are coming for water in this water source because their wells have dried up. This poses a challenge of long queues in the morning and also in the evening, as at those times, the pupils are out of the school, and community members are free from their routine work," shared Elina Mulama, a 48-year-old female farmer.

What We Can Do:

Spring Protection

Protecting the spring will help provide access to cleaner and safer water and reduce the time people have to spend to fetch it. Construction will keep surface runoff and other contaminants out of the water. With the community’s high involvement in the process, there should be a good sense of responsibility and ownership for the new clean water source.

Fetching water is a task predominantly carried out by women and young girls. Protecting the spring and offering training and support will, therefore, help empower the female members of the community by freeing up more of their time and energy to engage and invest in income-generating activities and their education.

Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19, and More

To hold trainings during the pandemic, we work closely with both community leaders and the local government to approve small groups to attend training. We ask community leaders to invite a select yet representative group of people to attend training who will then act as ambassadors to the rest of the community to share what they learn. We also communicate our expectations of physical distancing and wearing masks for all who choose to attend.

The training will focus on improved hygiene, health, and sanitation habits in this community. We will also have a dedicated session on COVID-19 symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention best practices.

With the community’s input, we will identify key leverage points where they can alter their practices at the personal, household, and community levels to affect change. This training will help to ensure participants have the knowledge they need about healthy practices and their importance to make the most of their water point as soon as water is flowing.

Our team of facilitators will use a variety of methods to train community members. Some of these methods include participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation, asset-based community development, group discussions, handouts, and demonstrations at the spring.

One of the most important issues we plan to cover is the handling, storage, and treatment of water. Having a clean water source will be extremely helpful, but it is useless if water gets contaminated by the time it is consumed. We and the community strongly believe that all of these components will work together to improve living standards here, which will help to unlock the potential for these community members to live better, healthier lives.

We will then conduct a small series of follow-up trainings before transitioning to our regularly scheduled support visits throughout the year.

Training will result in the formation of a water user committee, elected by their peers, that will oversee the operations and maintenance of the spring. The committee will enforce proper behavior around the spring and delegate tasks that will help preserve the site, such as building a fence and digging proper drainage channels. The fence will keep out destructive animals and unwanted waste, and the drainage will keep the area’s mosquito population at a minimum.

Project Updates


05/19/2022: Mungakha Community 3 Spring Protection Complete!

Mungakha Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Mwilima Spring into a flowing source of naturally filtered water thanks to your donation. Our team also trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices. Together, these components will unlock the opportunity for community members to live better, healthier lives.

Helima Mulama, a local farmer, expressed her excitement now that the new water point is complete. "Access to reliable, safe water from the water point will impact me and my family positively because we will be accessing safe, clean water which is free from disease-causing microorganisms, thus boosting [our] productivity and increas[ing our] income," she said. "There will no more wastage of finances seeking medications on water-related ailments."

Helima at the hygiene training.

"The water point will help me achieve a lot," Helima continued. "There will be plenty of time to be utilized on doing farming activities because I will no longer waste my precious time seeking medications on hygiene and sanitation-related diseases. Besides that, I will not need to waste firewood to boil drinking water anymore after the spring has been protected and covered well."

Children were just as excited as adults about the new waterpoint.

"I will get enough time to concentrate on my studies since I will not be [in] long queues at the water point, and also, I will not be missing going to school because of water-related diseases," said 14-year-old Shanice M.

"My plan is to improve my academic performance, as now I am having plenty of time to utilize for studies because we no longer encounter long queues at the water point," Shanice continued. "My dream of becoming a nurse is to be realized."

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 rocks to break them down into gravel. Because people have to carry most items by hand, the material-collection process can take anywhere from a few weeks to months.

Community members break rocks into gravel.

The people of Mungakha were eager to aid in the construction of the protected spring, with multiple community members showing up each day to assist in ferrying materials and construction.

When the community was ready, we sent a lorry to deliver the remaining construction materials, including cement, plastic tarps, and hardware. Then, our construction 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! Locals lent their strength to the artisans to help with the manual labor.

First, we cleared and excavated the spring area. Next, we dug a drainage channel below the spring and several runoff diversion channels above and around the spring. These help to divert surface contaminants away.

To ensure community members could still access water throughout the construction process, we also dug temporary channels from the spring's eye around the construction site. This allowed water to flow without disrupting community members' tasks 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 establishing the base, we started brickwork to build the headwall, wing walls, and stairs.

Once the walls had grown tall enough, we began one of the most crucial steps: setting the discharge pipe. The discharge pipe needs to be positioned low enough in the headwall so the water level never rises above the spring's eye, yet high enough to allow room for the average jerrycan (a 20-liter container) to sit beneath the pipe without making contact.

If we place the discharge pipe too high above the spring's eye, backpressure could force water 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 clay is in short supply) and placed it at an incline to ensure water flows in the right direction.

In coordination with brickwork, we pitched stones on both sides of the spring's drainage channel. We then cemented and plastered each stone, forming the rub walls. These walls discourage people and animals from standing in that area, which could cause soil erosion and a clogged drainage area.

We then cemented and plastered 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.

As the headwall and wing walls cured, 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.

The final stage of construction is backfilling the reservoir box behind the discharge pipe. We cleared the collection box of any debris that may have fallen during construction. 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 water through the discharge pipe only.

We filled up the reservoir area with the large, clean stones community members had gathered, arranging them in layers like a well-fitting puzzle. We covered the rocks with a thick plastic tarp to minimize potential contamination sources, then piled enough dirt on top to compensate for future settling.

Our artisans work backfill the spring box with clean rocks gathered by the community members.

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. 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 the spring was ready, people got the okay from our field officers to fetch water.

Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19, and More

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, facilitators Jonathan, Rose, Victor, Beverlyn, and Rachel
deployed to the site to lead the event. 17 people attended the training, including ten women and seven men.

An elder speaks to the assembled group at the hygiene training.

We covered several topics, including community participation in the project, leadership and governance, personal and environmental hygiene, water handling and treatment, spring maintenance, dental hygiene, the ten steps of handwashing, disease prevention, and how to make and use handwashing stations.

During the leadership and governance session, we held an election for the newly formed water user committee leaders, who will oversee the maintenance of the spring. We also brainstormed income-generating activities. Community members can now start a group savings account for any future minor repairs to the spring and a cooperative lending group, enabling them to develop small businesses.

The most memorable training topic was dental hygiene. Some of the participants said that brushing teeth is not a must because normally, they just rinse their mouth with water after meals or chew sugar cane, which they said helps clean teeth. We explained why tooth-brushing is necessary and showed them some examples of tooth decay. By the end of the training, everyone understood that brushing your teeth is necessary.

We let the participants know that investing in hygiene and sanitation will reduce health care costs and boost productivity. One community member, Mr. Andala, affirmed this to be true, referring to a recent health incident that made him spend money on medications for his kids that he had set aside for school fees.

"Though I am older, I have learned a lot of things," said Helima, who we spoke with earlier.

Community members practice handwashing.

"The knowledge gained on dental hygiene will help me minimize the cost of purchasing toothpaste because I have known the quantity needed to be applied when brushing teeth. Besides that, brushing in a circular manner will help not to injure my gums. [The] ten steps of handwashing will help me wash my hands without missing to parts of my hands, thus leaving my hands without any germs."

When an issue arises concerning the spring, 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!




03/21/2022: Mwilima Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Mungakha Community drains people’s time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know this community through the introduction and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation, and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with more good news!




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Project Type

Protected Spring

In many communities, natural springs exist as water flows from cracks in rocky ground or the side of a hill.  Springs provide reliable water but that doesn’t mean safe. When left open they become contaminated by surface contamination, animal and human waste and rain runoff. The solution is to protect the source. First, you excavate around the exact source area of the spring. Then, you build a protective reservoir for water flow, which pours through a reinforced pipe in a concrete headwall to a paved collection area. Safe water typically flows year-round and there is very limited ongoing maintenance needed!


Contributors

1 individual donor(s)