Project Status



Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 320 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/02/2024

Project Features


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Water-related diseases are the norm in Shirugu Community, especially for children. Although 320 people depend on the contaminated water from Soita Shapaya Spring, it's making all of them sick.

Not only does this water cause health issues, but it's also difficult and inconvenient to get. Everyone in the community crowds the spring during the morning and evening. Due to the hilly area around the spring, bending down and collecting water takes time, which tests the patience of those waiting for their turn.

"I have to spare some minutes in my lunch hour period so as to fetch water, just like now, simply because it's less crowded now," said 15-year-old Paul B. (pictured below), who we encountered during our visit. "The problem comes in when I get back to school late. I wish I could just fetch the water in the evening when I come [home] from school."

It's not only Paul's daily activities that are put off. Everyone in the community wastes a ridiculous amount of time fetching water. For some, the task is as arduous as it is inconvenient.

"As I continue to age, it's becoming hard for me to squat here at the spring when fetching water," said 44-year-old Everlyne Wafula, seen in the below picture. "My bones are becoming weak."

It's not clear, however, whether it's only aging that plagues Everlyne. After so many years of drinking contaminated water, her body has had to fight off waterborne diseases like typhoid, dysentery, cholera, and amoebas each time she drinks.

Upon hearing that the spring will be protected, community members expressed great hope that their lives will become easier. With stairs and a sturdy (not improvised) discharged pipe, fetching water will take less time and energy. And with proper protection, everyone's health will improve, lessening the pain they feel and the burdens of worry they bear.

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


February, 2023: Shirugu Community Spring Protection Complete!

Shirugu Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Soita Shapaya 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.

"This protected spring will protect me against diseases such as [the] flu," said 46-year-old farmer Everlyne Wafula. "I will also save time I spent on scooping water, and also [there will be no] risk [of] falling into the water point since I will directly be fetching water from the pipe. The funds that I used to spend in [the] hospital treating flu [will] now be used in my farming work, which will improve my way of living."

Everlyne collecting water.

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

"I can now easily fetch water directly from the pipe without fearing falling into the water point. I’m also able to carry water away from the spring without falling since there are good stairs, which have reduced the risk of sliding," said 18-year-old Paul B. "I have enough time to study in school, time that I wasted looking for water."

Paul at the protected spring.

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.

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 pipes. It was determined that community members would benefit from two discharge pipes as part of the protection. The discharge pipes need 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 pipes without making contact.

If we place the discharge pipes 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 pipes 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 pipes.

As the headwall and wing walls cured, 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.

The final stage of construction is backfilling the reservoir box behind the discharge pipes. 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 pipes 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.

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 Joel and Sam deployed to the site to lead the event. 12 people attended the training, including eight women and four men. We held the training under an indigenous shade tree.

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.

Training facilitator Joel Shitindo shared about solar water disinfection methods and said participants found it interesting.

"The training participants were very happy to hear the new method of treating water since they were used to thinking that water is only treated by chlorine and boiling only, which is usually very costly for them," said Joel.

Another interesting topic for participants was soap-making.

"The training participants were so so happy to learn a new skill. They said that the knowledge gained from the training would help them to improve their finances. They also were surprised by how it is easy to make soap and how it doesn’t require much input," Joel said.

"This training has really helped me since I have learned how important it is to maintain high standards of personal hygiene. I also learned the importance of maintaining the protected spring to my own benefit and the community members at large," said 45-year-old farmer Joseph Shapaya.

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!




December, 2022: Shirugu Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Shirugu 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

36 individual donor(s)