The Kangeme Spring Project
KWENCH’s first project was a spring development and soil erosion control project at the Kangeme Youth Centre (KYC), a school on the banks of the Nairobi River. The project, which was constructed in 2007, was initially funded from the personal savings of KWENCH’s executive director, Constance Hunt, but Monsanto contributed seed sacks for gabion construction and UNICEF contributed two, 5,000-liter water tanks. The University of Nairobi chemistry department tested the water before we developed the spring and found that it was potable. So we excavated the spring to increase the water flow, backfilled our trench with hardcore to increase the water pressure, installed pipelines to carry the water downhill to the two water tanks and covered the spring with concrete and earth so that grass could grow on top of it. Now you can’t even see the spring! We also constructed a wall around the back of the tanks to prevent the pressure of the ground uphill from causing the tanks to collapse.
The result is that the primary school, which takes students from both the informal settlements of Kangeme and Kawangware, now has 10,000 liters of potable water at its disposal every day. The school uses the water for drinking, cooking, watering crops and trees and washing utensils and classrooms. As part of the project, KWENCH worked with the children to plant more than 100 trees at the site. To protect the seedlings from stray soccer balls and grazing livestock, the children caged each tree using natural bark and sticks. They tied tags bearing the name of the child assigned to care for it and a picture of a skull and crossbones to each of the seedlings. Today, the trees are taller than the buildings on the site!
The soil erosion, which was severe before the project, has stabilized and the site has turned from one that looked like a desert into one that is green and flourishing (see http://www.idrc.ca/en/ev-99168-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html for an early description of the project by the International Development Research Centre).
Since we built the project, other donors have helped to improve it. One contributed a water pump so that the water could be pumped uphill for use in washrooms. Another contributed a greenhouse so that the water can be used to grow tomatoes and cowpeas. Another built a cage around the water tanks to protect them from dust and damage by children. This project just keeps getting better!
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Trees and gabions installed by KWENCH 2011
Kale grown with water from spring 2011
A tall tree planted by KWENCH and children 2011
Water tanks and tap in July 2011 protected by a cage
Greenhouse with cowpeas grown with water from spring 2011
Children fetching water from the spring in 2008
KWENCH Director Constance Hunt and school kids planting tree, 2007
Protective tree cage made by school kids
Trench excavation 2007
Taking water sample from the Spring, 2007
Erosion at Kangeme Youth Centre prior to project