November, 2022: Chikamayi Spring Protection Complete!
Mukavakava Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Chikamayi 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.
"There shall be minimal money spent on treating water-related diseases because I will be consuming clean water, leading to good health," said 32-year-old farmer, Cheto Chikamayi, to whom we spoke when we first visited Mukavakava.
Cheto at the new spring.
"Also, there shall be minimal time spent collecting water for domestic use, and for my cows, too. They will get enough water for drinking because water will available in plenty. When it comes to the business sector, the reliability of water will favor my brick-making plan, which, in [the] future, shall generate money."
Children were just as excited as adults about the new waterpoint.
Goodluck at the spring.
"[I] will be assured of good health by consumption of clean water and food which has been prepared using clean, safe water," said 10-year-old Goodluck - another person we interviewed when creating our community profile. "It will also promote the level of my cleanliness by ensuring I clean my school uniform and home clothes on a regular basis and also get to bathe every day using plenty of water."
"[I] will achieve more when it comes to schoolwork," Goodluck continued. "The time I used to spend queuing at the water point will be converted to studying. This will really help me concentrate more, thus getting good grades. Then, also, we [will] get some time to play and interact with my friends both in school and at home."
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 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 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. Our field officer and the artisan in charge trained the community members on the proper use and maintenance of the spring, after which the implementing officer gave her final closing remarks by appreciating the community for the support they offered during the implementation process.
Then lastly, Agnes Nanjala, the assistant chairperson of the new Water User Committee, offered a closing prayer.
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 Patience, Kevin, Joel, Mildred, and Lilian deployed to the site to lead the event. 14 people attended the training, including nine women and five men.
The training participants.
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.
Patience shows participants how to use a tippy-tap.
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.
The community members were uncomfortable at first when we covered sex education and teenage pregnancy, but with openness and some coaxing, they eventually opened up. We shared that it's important for young adults to learn about sex as this helps prevent teenage pregnancy, which is a problem in Kenya. At the end of the discussion, participants thanked the trainers for having brought it up.
"This is a community that had battled so much with water-related diseases, all because of having less knowledge on how it can be curbed," said our field officer, Mildred.
A lesson on water treatment, storage, and disinfection.
"One [woman] narrated how she [walked] a long distance just to get to a spring that had [a] chlorine [dispenser] because boiling water consumed a lot of firewood, which, at times, could not be found," Mildred continued. "The discussion was based on how [disease] reduction can be done by ensuring they consume treated water using the different methods highlighted during the training and by handling water hygienically right from the water source to storage."
"When it comes to hygiene and sanitation, I used to brush my teeth, but not in a proper way as demonstrated in the training," said Agnes Nanjala, the new assistant chairperson of the Water User Committee.
Agnes at the training.
"So I [learned] the right way on how to brush, then washing of hands in the recommended manner," Agnes continued. "I have also [learned] the qualities of being a good leader, since I'm one of the elected local leaders. [I] have also acquired knowledge and skills in soap-making, which will help me prepare the soap on my own once I get the reagents. The soap will help me in doing my daily cleaning. Lastly, being a mother, [I] have learned about [the] proper maintenance of my homestead by having a dish rack, clothesline, and even a compost pit, and when I get all this, the level of hygiene shall increase, thus promoting good health."
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!