Maintaining and Training for Usalama's water system

Workshop with primary school children

EWB-USA requires that chapters make a minimum 5-year commitment to their partner communities, from the start of a project to closeout. Our relationship with Usalama is going on ten years, spanning two separate projects (school construction, followed by water distribution rehabilitation).  The strong relationship established from such a commitment helps a project be implemented successfully.


The goal, however, is for the community to become self-sufficient and able to continue operating the system that EWB has helped them implement. It is common for a misguided, well-funded NGO organization to install and pay for a sophisticated engineering solution, such as a multi-stage water treatment plant, and then disappear completely. What was well-functioning upon installation can quickly break down, necessitating repairs and maintenance for which the community has no solution. This hands-off approach is not only wasteful but also sets a bad example for other volunteer groups that may fall into the same trap. EWB is built to be different - to work in tandem with the community through every stage of the project, to implement the solution using methods that the community can understand, and maintain a connection with them that lasts until long after the product becomes operational.


In order to achieve this, it’s important to provide the community with sufficient information: technical knowledge for people in charge of maintenance, and more general knowledge for the community at large.  To complement the workshops we ran in June 2014, we distributed materials for the community to keep.


Operation and Maintenance Manual:

We created an Operation and Maintenance manual that the community can refer to for guidance on how to perform routine upkeep and utilize all the functions of the water system effectively. Briefly, it consists of:

  • contact information for the community leadership, district water engineer, and our team, should they need help with any technical issues.

  • a safety guide

  • a checklist that technicians can use periodically to make sure the system is receiving the required upkeep

  • photos and diagrams of the system components for comparison in the future

  • instructions on how to create chlorine stock solution and to dose water with the solution

  • a guideline for meetings within the maintenance team

Click here to see a pdf of this manual!

The manual is written in English, but the instructions for chlorine solution were provided in both English and Kiswahili.  Kiswahili translation was provided by Scola, a native of Usalama, who has helped us conduct health surveys in the past.  This leads us to our next topic:


Instructional materials

The posters are image-heavy, so that they can be easily understood.

We created two posters:

  1. How to create chlorine stock solution - this poster is primarily for the person on the maintenance team who has been trained and designated to do this task

  2. How to dispense chlorine stock solution into jerricans - this poster would be more widely used; attendants at each kiosk would have to follow these instructions

chlorine instruction posterchlorine dispensing poster

Educational Material for Community 

The Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST) has great educational material that we used for our community workshops.


We hope these resources will be useful for anyone working on similar materials. 

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