Project Status



Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 420 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Project Features


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The large community of 420 people in Mayuge tried to protect their spring several years ago, but their efforts failed. They still face the challenge of not being able to access water that is safe for consumption.

They spend more time fetching water (sometimes up to five times a day) to meet their daily drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs than doing any other things. This waste of time and energy has led to a lack of development among families in the community.

When dirt from surrounding farmland washes into the spring during the rainy season, the water becomes more contaminated and difficult to use. During the rainy season, the water flowing from the pipe become muddy and discolored, leading to delays in how quickly people can fill their collection containers, causing overcrowding.

The spring is very muddy and slippery. The very young and old especially have difficulty safely accessing the spring and carrying water home. At times they end up with severe injuries to their hands, legs, and backs when they fall, forcing them to visit the hospital for treatment, wasting valuable finances needed for their daily survival.

Mrs. Fatuma Mulindo (pictured above navigating the hazardous spring), age 78, shared how drinking water from the spring presents health challenges in the community, especially for small children. "As a mother and a grandmother, I will be happy to see my children and my grandchildren healthy fetching water without fear of falling, injuring themselves, and getting sick because of waterborne diseases. My young grandchildren cough a lot during the rainy season, and the Doctor said it's because of the water we are using. But because we have no other source of water, we use it despite its risks."

Elizabeth M. (pictured below), a 13-year-old student, commented, "I have personally been sick many times, and sometimes I miss school because of cholera. This was a result of drinking dirty water from the spring. I hope and pray that one day the spring will be protected, and the access will be good, and the sickness will be a thing of the past."

Properly protecting the spring is vital so the community members of Mayuge can access it without fear of injury and illness and spend their time and energy on other pursuits, improving their daily lives.

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


01/31/2023: Mayuge Community Spring Protection Complete!

Mayuge Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Alex Mulindo 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 clean flowing water will keep my family healthy and happy because they will no longer get sick because of consuming dirty water or injure themselves while accessing the spring. I will have enough time with my family because fetching water is easy, and this will save more time for my children and my grandchildren to interact freely and not [be] fetching water all the time," said 79-year-old farmer Mrs. Fatuma Mulindo.

Fatuma.

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

"I will have enough time to do other chores and my homework freely without stress because accessing clean flowing water means bye-bye to waterborne diseases, which used to make me sick all the time. Access to clean flowing water will enable me [to] have more time for myself. This means I will be able to help my brother and sisters do their homework on time and have some time to play together and laugh together once again," said Elizabeth.

Elizabeth 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.

Community members deliver dirt for construction.

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.

Laying the foundation.

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. Additional stairs were added to ease access and provide added safety because the area surrounding the spring was very muddy. 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 with large stones.

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 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 completed spring.

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 Olivia Bomji and Rose Serete deployed to the site to lead the event. 44 people attended the training, including 35 women and nine men. We held the training at the homestead of the spring's namesake, Alex Mulindo.

Learning how to make a leaky tin.

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.

Learning how to make soap.

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 about proper dental hygiene practices.

"The most memorable topic was dental hygiene. During the training, all the participants agreed that they had not brushed their teeth that morning. They all looked surprised at how each one of them was ignorant about oral hygiene, and to them, it looked normal until the day of the training when they learned about different types of dental diseases. After learning about dental diseases, they all promised to take care of their teeth because they learned much from the training," said field officer Olivia Bomji.

A group photo of training participants.

"The training was valuable to me because I learned how to maintain hygiene around me and how important it is to protect and keep our water sources clean all the time," said Fatuma Mulindo, quoted earlier.

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!




12/14/2022: Mayuge Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Mayuge 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

1 individual donor(s)