Project Status



Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 351 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 01/11/2024

Project Features


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It's obvious from the pictures that no one would fetch water from Nambale Spring if they had any other option. But for the 315 members of Muchini Community, this is all they have.

Due to the treacherous terrain, shallow water, and unkempt surroundings, fetching water here takes an inordinate amount of time. Community members fight their way through thick bushes and crouch in a dug-out trench to scoop up water one small pitcher-full at a time, feet mired in thick mud all the while.

"Nothing irritates me like fetching water from this spring," said 40-year-old farmer, Florenca Barasa (pictured above at the spring). "Accessing, drawing the water, and finding your way out is a whole hell on earth."

Florence also told us her mother-in-law twisted her ankle while trying to access Nambale Spring. Still, water vendors visit the spring up to ten times each day and sell the water in more populated areas. This is telling, because if there were any other option, surely they wouldn't brave the hazardous route to scoop water here.

Those are just the problems with acquiring the water. But because it's an open source, ingesting the water also causes significant health issues, namely cholera, typhoid, and chronic diarrhea.

In an effort to curb the cases of water-related illness, the community members try hard to fetch water carefully. But even the clearest water can still make people sick.

"Many times, I wish to help my mum with fetching water, but my mum stops me because she believes I will not be able to scoop the water without making it dirty," said nine-year-old Joab (pictured below).

Joab's mother is trying to protect him and the rest of their family from illness. But until the spring is protected, no amount of careful scooping will prevent waterborne sickness. That's where we come in.

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


January, 2023: Muchini Community Spring Protection Project Complete!

Muchini Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Nambale 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.

"[I] am so glad that my family and I will no longer get sick [from] typhoid because the spring is protected, and now we can access clean and safe water for drinking," said farmer Salome N. "I will be able to take good care of my family as a mother because I now have enough time to stay at home and not go to the spring to queue for hours."

Salome carrying water at the spring.

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

We interviewed Salome's son, Joab, when we first visited Muchini Community. Back then, he was sad that he couldn't help his mother in fetching water because he couldn't filter all the sediment out of the water.

Joab collecting water before the spring's protection versus now.

Now that the spring is protected, he'll be able to help his mother with this crucial chore without her having the worry about water quality (that's our job!).

"I will be able to fetch water for my mother anytime I want," Joab said. "My mother will no longer be worried about sending me to fetch water because she knows I will take clean water back home. I will have more time to do my homework with the help of my mother."

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.

A community member delivers bricks to the construction site while the artisans work.

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

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.

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 their local field officers to fetch water.

We officially handed over the spring to mark the community's ownership of the water point. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day, flowing in all directions.

"The smiles and joy on their faces melted our hearts as they were fetching clean and safe water from the protected spring," said our field officer, Olivia.

Training on Health, Hygiene, 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 and relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

When the day arrived, facilitators Olivia and Nelly deployed to the site to lead the event. 21 people attended the training, including seven women and 14 men. We held the training in a community member's yard under some shady trees.

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 community members were most interested in learning how to maintain the spring construction. As they explained to our field officers, they never wanted to go back to scooping up small jugs of dirty water.

"Now that the spring was protected, they were not going to allow anybody to interfere with it," Olivia said. "They promised to take care of the spring and maintain it well because, to them, it is a source of life and joy."

Another interesting topic was handwashing since the community members learned that the way they had been washing their hands previously (by all sharing one bowl or bucket of water to rinse their hands) would only serve to spread infections. When we showed them how to create a source of water using easily attainable materials, they were excited to learn how to prevent this in the future.

"The training made me to understand the real meaning and importance of maintaining general sanitation and hygiene in life," said Margaret N., the secretary of the newly formed water user committee.

Conclusion

This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our in-country teams, and the community members themselves. 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 their local field officers to assist them.

Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our monitoring and maintenance program. We walk with each community, problem-solving together when they face challenges with functionality, seasonality, or water quality. Together, all these components help us strive for enduring access to reliable, clean, and safe water for this community.

With your contribution, one more piece has been added to a large puzzle of water projects. In our target areas, we’re working toward complete coverage of reliable, maintained water sources within a 30-minute round trip for each community, household, school, and health center. With this in mind, search through our upcoming projects to see which community you can help next!

Thank you for making all of this possible!




November, 2022: Muchini Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Muchini 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!




Project Photos


Project Type

Springs are water sources that come from deep underground, where the water is filtered through natural layers until it is clean enough to drink. Once the water pushes through the surface of the Earth, however, outside elements like waste and runoff can contaminate the water quickly. We protect spring sources from contamination with a simple waterproof cement structure surrounding layers of clay, stone, and soil. This construction channels the spring’s water through a discharge pipe, making water collection easier, faster, and cleaner. Each spring protection also includes a chlorine dispenser at the waterpoint so community members can be assured that the water they are drinking is entirely safe. Learn more here!


Contributors

Run for Water 5K
2 individual donor(s)