SPRING PROTECTION IN THE UPPER MARA BASIN

Spring formation is as a result of underground water popping up on the earth surfaces and are typically found along hillsides, low-lying areas, or at the base of slopes. The rolling hills in the upper Mara River basin are origins to many streams, tributaries and rivers in this basin. There are several spring sources, commonly referred to as 'spring eyes'. For many years, communities living around springs have used this water for their domestic needs and for their livestock. They fetched their water from informally dug out holes. These posed a risk of water contamination and competition amongst consumers, be it water for human consumption, livestock or even reserve to sustain the environment since everybody had to fend for themselves. Joy Chelangá, a resident neighbouring Kapnaine spring in Amala, Bomet county, recounts how difficult it was to access water. "We used to scramble to get to the spring before the animals came for their share and fetch as much water as we could, without minding our neighbours who hadn't managed to fetch. Depending on one's strength, a person would fetch up to two hundred litres, while another would have no water to drink, this would easily bring conflict amongst community members.''

Previous water access

















Previous water collection point at Kapnaine spring in Amala


To address this dilemma the Mau Mara Serengeti Sustainable water initiative which has been actively working towards transforming the Mara River basin by improving water safety and security aimed at poverty reduction, economic growth and conservation of the basin's ecosystem, recognised the need to protect such springs while addressing water concerns for the residents. Through collaboration with small grants,  Amala and Engare Ngiito Water Resource Users Associations (WRUA's) based in the upper basin, were able to protect their springs and spring boxes were recently built to act as controlled water reservoirs and to improve the quality of the water. According to Lusweti a Project Advisor with SNV, a Dutch-based NGO which is a partner of MaMaSe, the designed spring boxes have a volume capacity between 1.5 - 2 cubic metres of water. In case there is an overflow from the spring box, the water spills over into the environment.

Kapnaine











On completion of the spring box, residents are now able to equitably share this resource. Every home is allowed to fetch approximately eighty litres of water per day. Livestock also gets their chance to hydrate at a designated time in the day. According to Peter Nbise, Chairman of Kapnaine spring, ''Previously, residents around springs used to share the water unevenly. Organizing the community to collectively share water has brought about unity amongst the residents. The Kapnaine spring, for instance, is able to serve over three hundred households where each has livestock which equally require the water. ''

This is just one of many interventions that MaMaSe has undertaken to help create a balance on how water is shared between the environment and the population living around key water sources which feed into larger streams, tributaries and rivers which eventually feed the basin further downstream. The programme acknowledges that managing water resource concerns have to be addressed from their origin, however small it may be. In this case, the springs are the source.