June, 2022: Makunga Community 3 Spring Protection Complete!
Makunga Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Malaha 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.
"Water is life," said Julia Naliaka, a community health worker. "With access to clean and safe water, the community at large will have reduced health issues. We will grow economically and our animals will have clean water to drink."
Julia fills a glass at the spring.
"Water-related diseases will not affect us, hence production will grow, contributing to the country's overall development. Normal cleaning will be done on a daily basis, hence hygiene standards will improve."
When we asked Julia what her plans are now that she has clean water, she said, "My focus will be on animal production, which will lead to the growth of my farm."
Children were just as excited as adults about the new waterpoint.
Cristerbel M. told us what she's been doing differently since the spring was protected. "A lot has been done, i.e. cleaning rooms, bathing, [and] washing uniforms on a daily basis. No more absenteeism in school will help me improve [my] performance."
Cristerbell at the spring.
Now, Cristerbel is looking toward the future, and she has big plans. "Health issues will be forgotten, hence my parents will have [a] little money to save for development purposes. I will work extra hard in school to uplift [the] lives of other people in the community and bring change."
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.
Community members help the artisan gather gravel for construction.
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.
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.
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.
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 Victor Musemi and Jacklin Chelagat deployed to the site to lead the event. 36 people attended the training, including 23 women and 13 men - a huge turnout!
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.
We asked one community member, Pius Kawere, for his thoughts on the training session. "To me, it's a great chance that has really changed my thinking. I can testify that through you people, I have learned matters concerning hygiene and sanitation that I will practice and apply on normal daily activities."
Pius at the spring.
One of the most exciting topics for Makunga's people was soap-making. To many, this subject was a surprise; people didn't believe that soap could be made locally. The community women were very excited to learn the process, which motivated them to form a group to make and sell soap within the community. A few people mentioned that they regretted spending so much money buying soap in the past.
Julia takes a turn stirring the soap.
When we spoke about leadership and governance, both the women and men talked amongst themselves and decided to form two different committees: women formed a duty roster to clean the water point on a daily basis, while the men will maintain the spring's drainage channels and fencing.
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.
Training on spring maintenance.
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.
Thank you for making all of this possible!