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Location: Kenya

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 350 Served

Project Phase:  Installed

Functionality Status:  Functional

Community Profile & Stories

This project is a part of our shared program with Western Water and Sanitation Forum (WEWASAFO). Our team is pleased to directly share the below report (edited for clarity, as needed).

Welcome to the Community

This unprotected spring is located in Minyika Village, Kivagala sub-location, North Maragoli location, Sabatia Constituency of Vihiga County. It serves 35 households with a total population of 350 people, out of which 167 are male and 183 are female.

Most who live around Hedwe Spring wake up very early to start working on their farms. These farmers had been growing coffee beans for over a decade, but recently encountered a huge drop in demand. They started suffering financial loss, and decided to swap crops. They uprooted their coffee and started growing tea. If not farming, a community member will most likely rely on brick-making for income. Lately the brick market has also been a challenge, and masons are selling their bricks at a throwaway price.

The community that uses Hedwe Spring witnessed the water project recently completed at Mido Spring, and asked us to protect their water source as well. After our first visit to Givunji Village and Hedwe Spring, we accepted their application, deciding that this group will greatly benefit from a project.

Water Situation

The spring is a permanent water source. Even though the spring is not yet protected, people are looking to it for their physical and domestic needs. And since the spring is unprotected, it is open to contamination from surface runoff, erosion, animals, and waste. Locals know that the water is dirty, and thus choose to boil it before drinking. But this is the only portion they can afford to boil! “Getting firewood for boiling water is so expensive, and most of us cannot afford water guard to treat drinking water enough for everyone all year round,” shared a woman. Spring users often complain of stomachaches and diarrhea.

Beneficiaries use jars to draw water from the spring and fill larger buckets and jerrycans. They tote these containers home and dump water into large plastic containers which are often marked for different uses such as drinking and cooking. Containers were observed to be rather dirty during the time of our visit, though.

Sanitation Situation

Sanitation and hygiene is also a challenge in this community. Only a few homes have latrines, with the rest of the families using the privacy of bushes or shade of trees for relief. The latrines observed were old, filthy, and smelly. This attracts a lot of flies, and flies carry disease. Since these latrines are old, their floors are also beginning to be compromised with cracks. Many homes use mosquito nets to fence in their kitchen gardens, and most homes have dirty compounds with waste thrown in their nearby banana plantations. Only a few hand-washing stations were seen. The community is unaware of how many health issues are avoidable. The spring’s landowner admits, “I believe that some of the health-related challenges we face are as a result of our lack of understanding, and if you enlighten us on water, sanitation and hygiene we shall evade many diseases.” In fact, locals are asking that hygiene and sanitation training be conducted as soon as possible!

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

Community members will attend hygiene and sanitation training for at least three days. This training will ensure participants are no longer ignorant about healthy practices and their importance. The facilitator plans to use PHAST (Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation), CLTS (Community-Led Total Sanitation), ABCD (Asset-Based Community Development), group discussions, handouts, and demonstrations at the spring. On the final day of training, participants will select five families that should benefit from new latrines.

  • Based on the initial visit, the facilitator decided to focus on the following training topics:
  • Proper handling and treatment of water and food
  • Dangers of open defecation
  • Protecting, preserving, and managing community water sources
  • Practicing personal and environmental hygiene

Training will also inform the community and selected families on what they can do to help make this project a success. They will mobilize local materials such as bricks, clean sand, hardcore, and ballast. The five selected families will also prepare by sinking a pit for sanitation platforms to be placed over. All community members will work together to make sure that accommodations and food are always provided for the work teams.

Local farmer Solomon Wandai says, “We thank for the project initiatives in our community. This will help us gain much knowledge on water preservation, treatment, and personal and environmental health.”

Plans: Sanitation Platforms

Community members will decide on the five families most in need of a new latrine. These families will receive a sanitation platform, which is a concrete floor that makes a great foundation for a safe and clean latrine. These families will prepare by sinking a pit that the concrete slab can be placed over. These five new latrines will go a long way in reducing the level of open defecation in this community!

Plans: Spring Protection

Fetching water is predominantly a female role, done by both women and young girls. Protecting the spring and offering training and support will therefore help empower the female members of the community by giving them more time and efforts to engage with and invest in income-generating activities.

In addition, protecting the spring will ensure that the water is safe, adequate and secure. Construction will keep surface runoff and other contaminants out of the water. The sanitation facilities and trainings will also enable, enlighten and build the capacity of the community so that they can take matters into their own hands.

Recent Project Updates

12/19/2017: A Year Later: Hedwe Spring

A year ago, generous donors helped build a spring protection and sanitation platforms with the community surrounding Hedwe Spring in Western Kenya. Because of these gifts and contributions from our monthly donors, partners can visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the actual water project. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – we’re excited to share this one from our partner, Jacqueline Shigali, with you.

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07/27/2016: Hedwe Spring Protection Project Complete

We are excited to report that the project to protect Hedwe Spring in Kenya is now complete. The spring is protected from contamination, five sanitation platforms have been provided for the community, and training has been given in sanitation and hygiene. Imagine the changes that all of these resources are going to bring for these residents! You made it happen, now help keep the water flowing. Join our team of monthly donors and help us maintain this well and many other projects.

We just updated the project page with the latest pictures, so make sure to open the “See Photos & Video” tab to enjoy!

Project Result: New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was held at the spring. In preparation for training, natural leaders were chosen to attend and informed ahead of time. These individuals are now either part of the Water and Sanitation Management Committee or a community health worker. Total attendance was comprised of seven men and five women. All participants were active and inquisitive.

Topics included but were not limited to:

  • Community contribution and responsibilities
  • Leadership and governance
  • Group dynamics
  • Forming an effective water user committee
  • Management and maintenance of the spring
  • Water pollution
  • Water-related diseases
  • Building disease transmission barriers
  • Proper handling of food and water
  • Importance of having and using a latrine

Training has already impacted the community. Many households have built their own hand-washing facilities, latrines, and dish racks. Village elder and spring landowner Samson Soma said, “We want this spring to serve us for a long time; therefore strict rules are laid down to control every activity around this place. I mean we shall not allow children to play here, animals to feed here, even me – the land owner, will not farm close to our water source.”

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Project Result: Sanitation Platforms

Five families benefited from sanitation platforms for their latrines. They expressed their happiness saying that with the help of TWP and WEWASAFO, they have been able to get these facilities which will help their lives improve. Most of them had been practicing open defecation, which resulted in anxiety and outbreaks of disease. Others used wooden floor latrines which posed a lot of risk of injury or death because of rotten beams that break. But since these sanitation platforms are made of sand and cement, they will be able to last for a longer period of time (up to 15 years).

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Project Result: Spring Protection

Construction for spring protection began on April 10th.

Spring protection involves conducting a water quality test; clearing the site, excavating the land uphill from the spring discharge until three feet of water is flowing; packing hard core; reinforcing and casting the foundation slab, building the main and wing walls; fitting the delivery pipes, inlets, draw off pipe, overflow, and inlet screen; backfilling; installing a pipe low in the collection wall to direct the water from the interception reservoir to a concrete or plastic spring box; landscaping and drainage; fencing the area; digging drainage.

Though the pictures might fool one into thinking not much goes into protecting a spring, that list proves it a misconception! There were other challenges, too. For example, the community had worked so hard to pile up all the sand they’d need for construction, but heavy rains came and washed it all away. They were forced to gather the sand again, but this time found shelter to store it under until it was needed.

When the spring protection was finally complete, community members like Moses Kavehere expressed their gratefulness. Moses, a local farmer, joyfully shared:

Thank you so much for helping us get clean water and teaching us how to maintain good hygiene standards in our village. Minyika is a changed place, I have already started seeing good changes in this area as a result of your coming. Please do the same to our neighboring villages, because we still have many unprotected springs around and many people in this sub – location still lack pit latrines. When such people get hygiene-related diseases, we shall still be affected because they are our friends, relatives, church-mates, schoolmates, and we share a lot in common that can lead to easy spread of diseases to us and our children!

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06/07/2016: Hedwe Spring Protection Project Underway

We are excited to share that work around Hedwe Spring has begun. Community members have been drinking contaminated water from this spring, and often suffer physical illnesses after doing so. Our partner conducted a survey of the area and deemed it necessary to protect the spring, build new sanitation platforms (safe, easy-to-clean concrete floors for latrines), and conduct sanitation and hygiene training. Thanks to your generosity, waterborne disease will no longer be a challenge for the families drinking the spring’s water. We look forward to sharing more details with you as they come! But for now, please take some time to check out the report containing community information, pictures, and GPS coordinates.

The Water Project and the community of Hedwe Spring Thank You for giving the hope of clean water and good health.

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Explore More of The Project

Project Photos

Monitoring Data

Project Type:  Protected Spring
Location:  Vihiga, Sabatia, Maragoli, Kivagala, Minyika Village
ProjectID: 4572
Install Date:  07/13/2016

Monitoring Data
Water Point:
Last Visit: 09/02/2017

Visit History:
08/14/2016 — Functional
03/01/2017 — Functional
06/01/2017 — Functional
09/02/2017 — Functional

A Year Later: Hedwe Spring

November, 2017

The spring is providing water to many families from across three villages. A good number of kids come to the spring because it has very long staircases and spacious water drawing point that make children prefer it to others. Protecting this spring has really provided relief, peace and comfort to its users.

A year ago, generous donors helped build a spring protection and sanitation platforms with the community surrounding Hedwe Spring in Western Kenya. Because of these gifts and contributions from our monthly donors, partners can visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the actual water project. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – we’re excited to share this one from our partner, Jacqueline Shigali, with you.

Since the spring protection and the WASH training, the community members have really improved on their health and the aesthetic value of the environmental. The village is very tidy and the spring area is very clean. Before, most homes were a mess and one could find rubbish everywhere. Compost pits where were hard to come-by and some people had resorted to throw garbage anywhere. They also embraced upgrading of sanitation facilities such that even those who did not have one tried hard and built them. There are no longer people using bushes as bathrooms.

Community member Linet Isweka shares the many benefits of the now protected spring: “We are very grateful and enjoying fresh, clean and safe drinking water. The new sanitation platforms have provided new hope to people who initially shared latrines with their neighbors or practiced open defecation. I even improved my latrine to a permanent facility. We now proudly have clean water and there are no cases of reported diarrhea to worry about anymore.”

“Since the completion of the project, we are now drinking clean water and we are all healthy now,” shares 12-year-old Roy Gerald. “We no longer waste a lot of time while going for water since the spring has high discharge and serves many people within a short time. There is also no school absenteeism since there are no cases of diarrhea among school going children. Available water is also helpful in washing of utensils and doing laundry work.”

The spring is providing water to many families from across three villages. A good number of kids come to the spring because it has very long staircases and spacious water drawing point that make children prefer it to others. Protecting this spring has really provided relief, peace and comfort to its users. Children used to get scolded by parents when they took long before gathering water from Hedwe spring. However, after its protection, they not only love going to the spring but they also take minimal time as well. Parents can now use the available time, provided by having a high discharging spring, to do household chores and farm activities.

The Water Project and our partners are committed to consistent monitoring of each water source. Our monitoring and evaluation program, made possible by monthly donors, allows us to visit communities up to 4 times a year. Read more about our program and how you can help.


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Country Details


Population: 39.8 Million
Lacking clean water: 43%
Below poverty line: 50%

Partner Profile

Western Water and Sanitation Forum (WEWASAFO) works together with less privileged and marginalized members of communities in Western Kenya to reduce poverty through harnessing and utilization of local resources for sustainable development.