Mwibichiri Spring Protection Project

Regional Program:
Western Kenya WaSH Program

Latitude 0.32
Longitude 34.77

500 Served

Project Status:

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Stories and Community Profile

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 Ebwambwa Village, Sheywe location, Sichirai sub-location, Kakamega Central of Kakamega County.

A normal day for the people living around Mwibichiri Spring starts when the women wake up to go fetch water for preparing breakfast and doing chores. Children are left to go to school as husbands and wives go to work on their farms.

The area around Mwibichiri Spring is densely populated. There are 100 households that make up a whopping total population of 799 people, all who rely on this unprotected spring as their sole water source. (Editor’s Note: While this many people may have access on any given day, realistically a single water source can only support a population of 350-500 people. This site would make a great location for a second project. To learn more, click here.)

This community heard about this kind of water project that would protect their spring, and immediately sent in their application. After our first visit, we were able to gather the details shared below to determine that the people around Mwibichiri Spring need both training and their spring protected. They are in dire need!

Water Situation

An unprotected spring is open to contamination from many different sources. When it rains, dirt and waste washes downhill into the spring. If there’s nearby farming, chemical fertilizers end up in the spring and pose a huge threat to whoever drinks the water. In this case, that’s almost 800 people. There are households near the spring, and these households have dug pit latrines to serve their families, unaware that the waste has a high chance of mingling with groundwater shared by their spring!

In the pictures, you’ll see that the spring looks like a muddy puddle. Since the water is so obviously dirty, mothers boil water before offering it to their families. However, with such a high level of contamination, these families still suffer from recurring cases of typhoid, cholera, stomachaches, and diarrhea.

Women and children fetch water by dunking small containers like cups to fill larger containers, such as jerrycans or buckets. Without constant cleaning of these water containers, the containers can also introduce more dirt and germs to the spring’s water. During the dry season, community members must fetch water at night to avoid long lines, agitation, and fighting around the spring.

Sanitation Situation

No more than half of the 100 households have their own pit latrine. The condition of all the latrines we observed was poor, so poor that using the latrine is dangerous. You can see examples of these latrines in the pictures under the “See Photos & Video” section. One picture shows a latrine with wooden slats suspended over the pit. These boards rot, increasing the chance that a user could fall through at any time.

Since hundreds of people don’t have a latrine for their own use, they have to find the privacy of bushes and trees. This becomes some of the waste that is washed into the spring during rain!

Not many homes have bathing rooms either, places that provide privacy for washing up, brushing teeth, and other personal hygiene activities. Out of the one hundred households, we couldn’t find a single hand-washing station. At the very least, community members can be taught about how to build a simple dish rack and clothesline to dry their things.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training and Sanitation Platforms

Community members will be trained for four days on a variety of health, hygiene and sanitation topics. This training will result in community members donning the roles of health workers and water user committee members. The training facilitator plans to use PHAST (Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Training), CLTS (Community-Led Total Sanitation), and ABCD (Asset-Based Community Development) methods to teach community members, especially the women and children who feel the burden of household responsibility. Training will equip each person with the knowledge needed to practice viable and effective health solutions in their homes and at the spring.

By the end of training, participants will also have identified five needy families to benefit from sanitation platforms. These are concrete floors for latrines that are safe and easy to clean. Five new places to use the bathroom will help create a cleaner living situation for the entire community.

Plans: Spring Protection

Locals are eagerly preparing for this spring protection project. They have agreed to gather the local materials needed for construction to begin, which include sand, ballast, hardcore, bricks, fencing poles, and even a few helpful hands!

Project Photos

Recent Project Updates

12/14/2017: A Year Later: Mwibichiri Spring

A year ago, generous donors helped build a spring protection and sanitation platforms for the community surrounding Mwibichiri Spring in Kenya. Because of these gifts and our monthly donors, partners are able to 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, Joan Were, with you.

The Water Project : 4575_yar_1

09/29/2016: Mwibichiri Spring Protection Project Complete

We are excited to report that the project to protect Mwibichiri 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 Mr. Christopher Ogayi’s homestead, who lives closest to the Mwibichiri Spring. By keeping in constant contact with the village leadership, we were able to mobilize as many participants as possible. This leadership moved from home to home informing citizens of the upcoming training sessions and their importance.

Training was conducted for two days beginning on July 19th. When we arrived on the first day, we couldn’t believe how ready and willing participants were to learn. They were there before us, waiting for our arrival. Our trainer was encouraged by the active participation by the answering and asking of questions. Each topic on the first day was relevant to household hygiene and cleanliness. Locals were able to relate to the stories told about disease transmission, and started to recognize that a healthier lifestyle really is attainable.

2 kenya4575 training

When we arrived on the second day, we were surprised to find that not only was everybody on time again, but they were already reviewing what they learned the day before. Before we got into the lectures and demonstrations, one of the participants stood up to express their gratefulness; training had been addressing every challenge she was facing in her household.

We were able to discuss a wide range of issues and possible solutions, including:

– Water Pollution

– Waterborne Disease

– Communicable Disease Transmission

– Water Treatment Methods

– Sanitation Facilities (dish racks, clotheslines, latrines, bathing rooms, and compost pits)

– Operation and Maintenance of the Spring

– Ten Steps of Hand-Washing

The facilitator used demonstrations, role-plays, discussions, and brainstorming to teach those topics and more. During training, we also took the community on a transect walk to sensitize them to some of the more serious health threats in their area. The transect walk taught them to watch for the practices that go on and the facilities that are related to good health and hygiene. Sometimes a participant felt shame when the group arrived at their household and pointed out things that were unhealthy or unhygienic; but in Kenya, this affects people to make a positive change. Since we were next to the spring, we were able to hold on site demonstrations about how to fetch water. Training participants also voted on and decided the families that should benefit from the five new sanitation platforms. Community members actively participated in each lesson and we witnessed their excitement to act on what they learned.

We consider training a success, because during our next visit we saw an obvious change. Families who didn’t have pit latrines had already started building them, and others were building hand-washing stations and dish racks. Training also resulted in the formation of a water user committee that will oversee and maintain the spring.

1 kenya4575 training

Project Result: Sanitation Platforms

A total of five sanitation platforms (concrete floors for pit latrines) were constructed and installed for beneficiaries around Mwibichiri Spring. These five families are happy about this milestone and are optimistic that there will be much less open defecation. People without proper latrines would opt to use the bushes and privacy of sugarcane crops, but now have a private place of their own. It is expected that proper use of latrine facilities provided by the sanitation platforms will go a long way in reducing pollution of the environment.

13 kenya4575 sanitation platform

Project Result: Spring Protection

Construction to protect Mwibichiri Spring began on July 31st.

We began with our initial water quality test that verifies that the spring’s water is contaminated and warrants this construction. When we got the results, we could begin excavating the land to build a foundation. We then dug further up the slope from the spring’s discharge pipe until there was three feet of water flowing. Hardcore is packed, reinforced, and the foundational slab is cast. After the floor, we can build up the walls and wings. The delivery pipes, inlets, and discharge pipe can then be installed. A screen is fitted between the catchment and the spring box. Once the brunt of this construction is finished, the community helps us dig proper drainage. Overflow can cause massive damage to a spring protection project. The water user committee also decided to fence in the area to protect the spring from wild animals.

4 kenya4575 construction

Not only this, but the community members provided food and accommodations for the artisans. Both women and men also transported construction materials to the site, such as sand, ballast, and hard core.

When the work was finished, we met Christopher Ogayo at the spring. He spoke on behalf of his community, saying “I express my joy because I was a victim of waterborne disease for a long time, and I also saw others suffering the same. This will improve health standards and reduce these diseases in the community.” Mr. Ogayo wasn’t the only one there. Women welcomed us with songs in their own language, and the local leadership was there to express their thanks. One of the women was so excited that she couldn’t let the artisans leave without serving a chicken feast to express her gratitude.

Community members are happy to know that they can go to the spring at any time to get clean, safe drinking water. Time wasted fetching water is a thing of the past, and time has been freed for more economically productive activities.

The Water Project : 14-kenya4575-protected-spring

08/16/2016: Mwibichiri Spring Protection Project Underway

We are excited to share that work around Mwibichiri Spring has begun. Community members have been drinking contaminated water from this spring, and often suffer physical illnesses after doing so. Our partner in the field 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 for four days. 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 Mwibichiri Spring Thank You for giving the hope of clean water and good health!

The Water Project : 3-kenya4575-fetching-water

Monitoring Data

Project Type:  Protected Spring
Location:  Kakamega, Ebwambwa
ProjectID: 4575
Install Date:  09/29/2016

Monitoring Data
Water Point:
Last Visit: 02/08/2018

Visit History:
11/15/2016 — Functional
04/30/2017 — Functional
08/31/2017 — Functional
02/08/2018 — Functional

A Year Later: Mwibichiri Spring Community

September, 2017

“Before the spring was protected, most community members opted to source their water from a spring that is 1 km away.”

A year ago, generous donors helped build a spring protection and sanitation platforms for the community surrounding Mwibichiri Spring in Kenya. Because of these gifts and our monthly donors, partners are able to 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, Joan Were, with you.

The community around Mwibichiri Spring has experienced exciting changes through the protected spring project and hygiene and sanitation training.  Joan joyfully shares her impressions of the changes that she has witnessed in the community: “Most homesteads have installed dish racks and many of them come to the spring with containers that have lids. This change has happened because the community embraced the WaSH training positively.”  A teacher in the community, Christopher Ogai, does indicate that the spring access has reduced cases of waterborne sickness, but that there are still times in the dry season when the water production from the spring is low and the demand is very high.  This community represents both the incredible benefit of clean water sources and the continuing need for engagement in areas experiencing water scarcity.


Samuel Ogai, age 13, shares some of the benefits of having the protected spring nearby, stating, “This spring is very nice compared to the river that we used to go to. The water is clean and we spend less time fetching water because we would go to the river and get allured by other kids to swim before taking water home.” We hope that Samuel is still taking some time to swim with friends.

WEWASAFO will continue supporting the Mwibichiri community to ensure that clean water is consistently available.  The Mwibichiri community has integrated much of the WEWASAFO training into community life, teaching how to keep the water clean until it is used or consumed, and how to build and maintain latrines. The community even started a self-help group to ensure sustainable access to the clean water through community contributions for any maintenance costs that might arise.


We know that the positive changes around Mwibichiri Spring from clean water access and healthy lifestyle changes will have ripples of impact throughout their community and in the surrounding areas.  We are excited to stay in touch with this community and to report the news as they continue on their journey with clean water.

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.


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.