October, 2022: Shamberere Community Spring Complete!
Shamberere Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Jafred Shiayo 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.
"Before this project, getting water was such a hard task, because it meant waking up very early so as to go get clean water before the water [was] disturbed and made dirty by continuous use. Also, the bending down so as to reach the water was quite hard considering [I] am getting old, and my knees are getting weaker," said 66-year-old farmer Josina Ichera.
Josina, all smiles at the protected spring.
"But now, with this new water point, all I have to do is get my water can and put it at the pipe and just get water. Also, now I do not have to forego my sleep so as to go fetch water because of the fear of getting dirty water. This, in turn, has made everything easy," she concluded.
Children were just as excited as adults about the new waterpoint.
"Before the project, congestion at the water point was the order of the day. If you happened to be among the last, that meant that your water would be very dirty because that meant the first ones had taken the clean, settled water first. Now I am glad that I do not have to worry if I am first or last because either way, I will get clean water," said 10-year-old Emmanuel B.
Emmanuel continued: "Normally, after school, I have to go fetch the water to be used for the evening chores at home before I am able to do anything else. Most times, I do not get the opportunity for other activities because of the congestion at the water point. But now, I believe I will be able to engage in other activities. I really love football and want to practice and really get better at it so that in [the] future, I can get [a] scholarship for my education through playing football. Spending less time at the water point will help me achieve this because it would mean more free time."
Preparing for Spring Protection
Community members, especially Shamberere's women, 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 collect stones.
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.
A community woman and children help with clearing the land and excavation.
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.
Backfilling the reservoir area.
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.
Community members transplanting grass.
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.
Happy for easily accessible water.
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 Patience and Brenda deployed to the site to lead the event. 13 women attended the training as the men had gone out to work. We held the training outside near a road by the spring.
Receiving training materials.
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.
Site proper operation and maintenance session.
A favorite of the training was the soap-making demonstration. Everyone was really excited to learn all there was to know about it, which made it interesting for the group. They sang and talked amongst themselves about how glad they were for the opportunity.
"I have really enjoyed the training and learned a lot, especially the aspect of soap making. I hope that this skill will be of help to me and others moving forward," said Josina, quoted earlier.
Learning how to make soap.
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!