Project Status



Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 315 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 01/13/2023

Project Features


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The 315 people of Mahondo fetch water from an open spring surrounded by farmland and shared with animals, both domesticated and wild. This renders the water undrinkable, but people drink it every day. There is no other water source nearby, leaving these people with no other choice.

The sources of contamination that pollute the water make up a near-endless list: fertilizers used at the adjacent farms, storm water runoff, human activities like laundering and bathing, animal waste, and plenty of unseen pathogens, which thrive in conditions like these.

"When [my children] get sick, it is very expensive to get medical services because health facilities are far away," 36-year-old Judith Andeyo (in the above photo) said.

Diarrhea and diarrheal disease are extremely common causes of malnutrition and death in children under five years old (WHO).

"When I get sick after drinking the water, I do miss school, and also I cannot attend Sunday school lessons," said 13-year-old Angel M (in the photo below). "I sometimes suffer from [a] sore throat that makes [it] uncomfortable to speak."

During the wet season, the ground becomes saturated with rainwater, so anyone who fetches water here must step carefully to avoid slipping in the mud. Year-round, people must wade in the water in order to fill their containers, which is not only uncomfortable, but it can be dangerous for vulnerable community members like children, pregnant women, and the elderly.

One small blessing is that this spring never dries out, even during the dry season. However, this means that people from miles around come to fetch water from Andrico Murunga Spring. The influx of thirsty souls makes for a lot of inconveniences like long lines and short tempers.

Judith added: "[I] am always worried when [the] dry season sets in and many people start streaming to collect water from this source. During such moments, we experience long queues, and sometimes I fear sending my children to collect water because it will be time-consuming."

Long queues have deeper implications than just wasted time. People often get less water when there are long lines, which means people end up dehydrated, unable to bathe, and, ultimately, sick (Sphere Standards).

Without intervention, the people of Mahondo will continue waiting, getting sick, and spending their hard-earned income on medication. But a protected spring with a convenient discharge pipe and easy-to-access stairs will significantly cut down on wait times, and naturally filtered water will prevent future water-related illnesses.

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, and More

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


06/27/2022: Mahondo Community Spring Protection Complete!

Mahondo Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Andrico Murunga 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.

"Access to reliable, safe drinking water is key," said Joan Khatoya, a 68-year-old farmer. "This is how all will be: my grandchildren will take the responsibility of ensuring that there is water in the house. For myself, I go farming very early, before the sun rises, and in my heart, I will have the confidence of sending my grandchildren to the spring as I do other chores."

Joan with a glass of water.

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

"The long wait I have been having to get clean water has now come to an end," said Yvonne N., 17. "The reliable safe water will have a positive impact on my life. I will be able to curb waterborne diseases that have been rampant in our home."

Yvonne.

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

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.

Setting the discharge pipe.

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.

Plastering walls.

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.

Backfilling.

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.

Transplanting grass.

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.

Happy for 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 chairperson of the Water User Committee, a church leader, called all the people that use the water point together once it was completed. He thanked everyone who gave a helping hand during construction and reminded all the users about the rules to ensure proper maintenance and sustainability of the water point for the future. He closed the ceremony in prayer so people could enjoy using the protected spring.

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 to relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

When the day arrived, facilitators Jemmimah Khasoha and Victor Musemi deployed to the site to lead the event. 30 people attended the training, including 13 women and 17 men. We held the training under the shade of a mango tree.

Solar water disinfection session.

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.

Learning proper handwashing techniques.

Joan, quoted above, said, "The knowledge I have gained through the topics taught will not only help me have good and proper hygiene but also will improve my way of living. Things to do with food security and environmental conservation will go a long way in helping me have healthy living."

Dental hygiene practice.

The most memorable topic during the training was personal hygiene, especially dental hygiene. During the session, it was discovered that out of the 30 participants only two people had ever brushed their teeth. Community members were sad that they did know the importance of maintaining good oral health and had ignored it. The good news is that once the training was complete they committed to put into practice the information they had learned.

Conclusion

This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our partners, 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 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. We have an ongoing commitment to walk with each community, cooperatively problem-solving when they face challenges of any kind: with functionality, seasonality, or water quality. With all these components together, we strive to ensure 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!




05/16/2022: Mahondo Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Mahondo 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

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

Project Sponsor - Bartholomew J. Recame Foundation