Project Status



Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 150 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 11/18/2022

Project Features


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The community of Chepkuony in Western Kenya is densely populated, with clay homes scattered throughout the rough landscape. The dirt roads surrounding the community are bumpy, which makes access during the rainy season especially difficult.

Agriculture is the most practical activity the majority of families rely on to meet their daily needs and pay their children's school fees. Tea (in the photo below) is the most common cash crop, but maize, beans, and bananas are also grown on a smaller scale for subsistence purposes.

Lwandoni Spring currently serves 150 community members. The area is steep, with no stairs, making it difficult to access. Water surrounds the collection area. People contract bacterial infections and other diseases (cholera and typhoid) because the entire source is open to waste products. The water has fungus and mold that changes the water's color and makes it unsafe for human consumption. But those drinking and using the water daily have no other choice.

"It has taken God's grace for me to be the way [I] am. We have been affected mostly by the use of this water, which, when [we] use it, causes diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and sore throat," said Hellen M.

Accessing water is a challenge, especially during the peak collection times in the morning and evening when the majority of people want to fetch water and the spring is overcrowded.

The level of hygiene in this community is suffering due to a lack of water. Community members delay tasks like washing clothes, bathing, and cooking. They avoid regular daily business and farming activities because they require collecting water.

"[The] majority of us have been born in this area. The source was used by our grandparents. It's been a major problem for us, especially as parents. Our children contract diseases, causing them to be absent. Our time is wasted when we should be attending to our work. Expectant mothers and old age people can not access [the spring] due to poor stairs," said Peter Linganga, a local farmer, collecting water in the photo above.

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


04/12/2022: Chepkuony Community, Lwandoni Spring Protection Complete!

Chepkuony Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Lwandoni 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.

Hellen at the new water point.

"It is healthy having access to clean and safe water," said 40-year-old farmer, Hellen Charenga. "As a mother, my family will no longer face challenges concerning waterborne diseases. This will promote my income, as I will not spend much on seeking medication like how [I] used to do in the past. The hygiene standards will improve and my children will not miss school."

"Having access to clean and safe water will create time for community work and other agricultural activities," Hellen added. "This will ensure there is enough food in my community."

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

"I can tell and see my future is bright," said nine-year-old Grace A. "Access to clean water has improved my hygiene. I can wash clothes and clean the house on a daily basis. I feel energetic going to school daily and not missing class lessons. This has drastically improved my academics performance."

Grace fills a glass.

When we asked Grace about her plans for the future, she said, "Having an interest in sports, I will ensure that I don't lose focus, rather struggle to sharpen my talents."

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 the community 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.

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.

A community member helps select the perfect stones for backfilling.

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.

Chepkuony community members were excited to take part in the construction process. They asked questions about maintenance, the cement to concrete ratio when mixing cement, and all the construction measurements.

Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19, 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 Victor Musemi and Amos Emisiko deployed to the site to lead the event. 14 people attended the training, including ten women and four men. We held the training under a tree near the spring.

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.

For this community, the most exciting topic was the section where we explained how they could maintain the spring on their own moving forward. They asked many questions, which displays how well they will take care of the spring.

Discussion during the on-site training.

Another topic that spurred discussion was soap-making. Community members enjoyed watching the soap transform with the addition of each new ingredient. One of the women in attendance said making their own soap could do a great deal to curb poverty for the community and resolved to teach the skill to others who could not attend the training.

"I have gained a lot from this training," said Hellen. "Matters concerning hygiene and sanitation will really change the community. I will be a great ambassador of change. I will educate and ensure people are living a healthy life."

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.

Thank you for making all of this possible!




02/21/2022: Chepkuony Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Chepkuony 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 Underwriter - Imago Dei Community
3 individual donor(s)