Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 315 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2019

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/05/2024

Project Features

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Bung'onye is a rural part of Kakamega County where farming is the backbone of the community. It is a peaceful area bordering Kakamega Forest. The entire area is very green and there's always a good breeze from the forest. Buildings here differ, for each household has included a personal touch. The majority are made of mud walls and iron sheet roofs.

Community members wake up early in the morning at 6 am. After breakfast, they prepare children for school and then do household chores before going to the farm. Chores include gathering firewood, picking up trash around the home, sweeping, and fetching water.

Fetching water is a big task. 315 people in Bung'onye rely on Shilangu Spring, using its water to meet all of their needs. It's used for drinking, cooking, and cleaning to name a few. The issue is that though there's plenty of water here, the water is dirty.

Community membered fixed a pipe in the ground where they found water coming out, which helps them siphon water into their containers. Yet there are opportunities for the water to get contaminated on the way to the discharge pipe. When it rains, farming fertilizers, animal waste, and extra dirt wash into the spring.

The water is poured into different barrels and pots depending on intended use. Clay pots are used for drinking water because community members say it keeps the water cooler. But after drinking this dirty water from the spring, people suffer from waterborne illnesses that keep adults away from making a living on the farm and children away from school.

According to Mr. Shilangu, waterborne and water-related diseases are the major cause of death in the community and it has arrested development in the area. Community members waste their resources on seeking medication rather than doing development. Protection of Shilangu Spring will bring a new dawn as people will not only get access to safe water but their living standards will also change.

What we can do:

Spring Protection

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. With the community’s high involvement in the process, there should be a good sense of responsibility and ownership for the new clean water source.

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 and invest in income-generating activities.


Community members will attend hygiene and sanitation training for at least two days. This training will ensure participants have the knowledge they need 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. One of the most important topics we plan to cover is the handling, storage, and treatment of water. Having a clean water source will be extremely helpful, but it is useless if water gets contaminated by the time it’s consumed.

Training will also result in the formation of a committee that will oversee operations and maintenance at the spring. They will enforce proper behavior around the spring and delegate tasks that will help preserve the site, such as building a fence and digging proper drainage. The fence will keep out destructive animals, and the drainage will keep the area’s mosquito population at a minimum.

Sanitation Platforms

"The sanitation and hygiene situation here is terrible," said Mr. Shilangu.

"As you have seen, we normally clean them once, even after two weeks because the floors are of wooden logs and therefore cleaning is only with ashes to avoid weakening these wooded logs. We will be grateful for your support on sanitation platforms."

On the final day of training, participants will select five families that should most benefit from new latrine floors.

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

Project Updates

October, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Wilson Shilungu Dex

This post is part of a new series by The Water Project meant to highlight the perspectives and experiences of the people we serve and how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them. We invite you to read more of their stories here.

Our team recently visited Bung'onye to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point, Shilangu Spring. Shortly after, we returned to check in on the community, offer a COVID-19 refresher training, and ask how the pandemic is affecting their lives.

It was during this most recent visit that Wilson Shilungu Dex shared his story of how the coronavirus is impacting his life and his community. Wilson is a 42-year-old farmer, father, and Chair of the spring's water user committee.

Wilson Shilungu Dex

Field Officer Christine Masinde met Wilson outside his home to conduct the interview. Both Christine and Wilson observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Wilson's story, in his own words.

Wilson shares how his community uses clean water from their spring

What is one thing that has changed in your community since the completion of the water project?

"Since the installation of this water point, we have reliable, safe water for drinking. Unlike before, when we could consume contaminated water and get sick frequently."

How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?

"Clean and safe water is essential for survival, especially during this time when everyone is at risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus. We are privileged to have this water for cleaning our hands frequently and also drinking. It has also enabled us to keep high hygiene standards around our homes by cleaning surfaces, washing our clothes, bathing, and general cleaning."

Wilson, his wife, and daughter fetching water from the spring

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Kenya, has fetching water changed for you because of restrictions, new rules, or your concerns about the virus?

"We have to fetch water in turns by keeping social distance and we also wear masks in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We also wash our hands with soap before fetching water from the spring. Though not everyone keeps to these regulations, I keep on reminding them to do so."

Wilson washing his hands at the spring

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

"After the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Kenya, the president ordered the closure of all learning institutions in order to control the spread of the virus. My children have been at home since then and I am worried that their future will be affected negatively, especially my daughter who was to sit for her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination this year. At the beginning, she could try and study, but as time went by, she relaxed. I try my best to guide her to study but I can't help much since I didn't further my studies...I want my children to have a bright future."

The Dex family at home

What other challenges are you experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

"I own oxen which I use to plow people's farms at a fee, but since the outbreak of COVID-19, I hardly get work to plow because people now prefer to dig their farms using jembes (hoes). They cannot afford to hire my services because most of them have lost their jobs and the ones with businesses are not bringing in much, and some are even closed. I even don't know how I will raise school fees for my children when they resume school."

Wilson feeding his cattle

What hygiene and sanitation steps have you and your community taken to stop the spread of the virus?

"Each home has a homemade handwashing station and soap for washing hands frequently, we wear masks when we leave home, and we keep social distance when in crowded places."

Wilson putting on his mask

Like most governments around the world, the Kenyan government continues to set and adjust restrictions both nationally and regionally to help control the spread of the virus.

What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?

"Curfew time was adjusted to 11:00 pm which has come as a relief for me because at least I get more time to fend for my family."

What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?

"I look forward for learning institutions to be open fully so that our children can go back to school and study."

Handwashing at home

When asked where he receives information about COVID-19, Wilson listed the radio and our team's sensitization training.

What has been the most valuable part of the COVID-19 sensitization training you received from our team?

"The most important part of the training was how to make a simple handwashing station from locally available materials. At least now we are able to wash our hands with clean running water. During the training, we were assured that bar soap works as well as liquid soap. Before that, we had been made to believe that bar soap was not effective enough."

June, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Shilangu Spring

Our teams are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us in our fight against the virus while maintaining access to clean, reliable water.

We are carrying out awareness and prevention trainings on the virus in every community we serve. Very often, our teams are the first (and only) to bring news and information of the virus to rural communities like Bung'oye, Kenya.

We trained community members on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19. Due to public gathering concerns, we worked with trusted community leaders to gather a select group of community members who would then relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

We covered essential hygiene lessons:

- Demonstrations on how to build a simple handwashing station

- Proper handwashing technique

- The importance of using soap and clean water for handwashing

- Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces including at the water point.

We covered COVID-19-specific guidance in line with national and international standards:

- Information on the symptoms and transmission routes of COVID-19

- What social distancing is and how to practice it

- How to cough into an elbow

- Alternative ways to greet people without handshakes, fist bumps, etc.

- How to make and properly wear a facemask.

During training, we installed a new handwashing station with soap near the community’s water point, along with a sign with reminders of what we covered.

Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we also dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the disease and provide extra information where needed.

We continue to stay in touch with this community as the pandemic progresses. We want to ensure their water point remains functional and their community stays informed about the virus.

Water access, sanitation, and hygiene are at the crux of disease prevention. You can directly support our work on the frontlines of COVID-19 prevention in all of the communities we serve while maintaining their access to safe, clean, and reliable water.

November, 2019: Bung'onye Community, Shilangu Spring Project Complete!

Bung'onye Community now has access to clean water! Shilangu Spring has been transformed into a flowing source of water thanks to your donation. We protected the spring, provided 5 sanitation platforms to different households in the community, and we trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices.

Dedication ceremony at the spring

The community members are now happy having access to safe and clean water not only for drinking but also for general house chores. Initially, it was reported that drawing water from this spring was a challenge because it had a lot of silt. More so, during the rainy season community members used to complain of waterborne and water-related diseases. The water sample we collected before implementation indeed showed that the water was contaminated and not safe for human consumption. Now, all that has changed thanks to your help.

Spring Protection

Community members provided all locally available construction materials, including bricks, wheelbarrows of clean sand, stones, and fencing poles. Accommodations and meals were provided for the artisan, too.

The Process

At first, work had to be delayed for more than 5 days. This was because some community members who draw water from this spring had lost their loved ones. The unity of the community was to assist the bereaved families, hence they requested some days for the send-off ceremonies. Then, after the works commenced, there was also a challenge of rainfall which delayed the works further. But, we are happy to report that at the end of the tunnel, there was a light. Work came to completion through the efforts and unity of this community. While some were assisting the artisan, others were crushing huge rocks for backfilling, bringing materials to the construction site, and assisting with manual labor the whole time too.

Kids help pass bricks during construction

The spring area was excavated to create space for setting the foundation of thick plastic tarp, wire mesh, and concrete. After the base had been set, both wing walls and the headwall were set in place using brickwork. The discharge pipe was fixed low in place through the headwall to direct the water from the reservoir to the drawing area.

As the wing walls and headwall were curing, the stairs were set and ceramic tiles were fixed directly below the discharge pipe. This protects the concrete from the erosive force of the falling water and beautifies the spring. The process of plastering the headwall and wing walls on both sides reinforces the brickwork and prevents water from the reservoir from seeping through the walls and allows pressure to build in the collection box to push water up through the discharge pipe.

Plastering inside of spring's headwall

The source area was filled up with clean stones and sand and covered with a thick plastic tarp to prevent potential sources of contamination. It took about 2 weeks of patience for the concrete to dry.

As soon as it was ready, people got the okay from our field officers to begin fetching clean water. We met them there to celebrate this momentous occasion.

(To hear the dedication ceremony of this spring in memory of Vildana Pilica Radoncic, where community members share in their own words what this project means to them, check out the video on the Photo tab of this project page!)

"The new water point looks so attractive to the eye...Water from this source now is safe and clean for drinking. We are so grateful for your assistance. We have been having a lot of challenges on waterborne and water-related diseases which had drained our resources. It is our time now to see progress in all aspects of development," said Mr. Wilson Shilangu, the spring's landowner.

Sanitation Platforms

All 5 sanitation platforms have been installed. These 5 families are happy about this milestone of having a private latrine of their own and are optimistic that people will no longer leave waste outdoors. We are continuing to encourage families to finish building walls and roofs over their new latrine floors.

Proud new owners of a sanitation platform

New Knowledge

Mr. Wilson Shilangu, a local farmer and landowner of the spring, was tasked with organizing the training. He gave us the community’s preferred date for training, for he was very much aware of the community calendar when it comes to planting season and other big events.

The training was attended by only 13 participants. This was because most of the community members were harvesting while others were busy preparing their lands for the second season of planting. This turnout was lower than expected, but the participants who came were actively involved throughout the training session and the majority of them were already informed on water, sanitation, and hygiene issues. This was as a result of the training held at Sachita Spring, which is next to Shilangu Spring, where many of these community members attended training last spring.

Handwashing practice at training

The weather of the day was so good. It dawned bright and early in the morning. Since it was a cloudless day, the weather up to midday was sunny. We held our training at Mr. Shilangu's homestead in the front yard under the shade of trees. The environment was conducive to learning due to the comfortable amount of space.

We covered several topics including leadership and governance; operation and maintenance of the spring; healthcare; family planning; immunizations; and the prevention and spread of disease. We also covered water treatment methods, personal care like handwashing, environmental hygiene, hygiene promotion, and many other things.

Group work activity

The session on the care and maintenance of the spring was very special. Though the works had not come to an end by the time of training, the topic was paramount. We took participants to the side of the spring where we made them familiar with the spring's parts as well as the "do's and don'ts" at the spring for the water point's longevity.

The topic was made special by participants learning that care for the spring was not only meant for them but also for their generations to come. The facilitator urged them that since they are investing in their kids' future, one of the most important investments is taking good care of the spring to enjoy during their lifetime.

Once we completed our training, from the remarks the community members gave we felt confident that the training had a positive impact on the community. They were admitting that they had been taking most of the things concerning sanitation and hygiene lightly, but that they were now ready to embrace good hygiene.

Thumbs up for clean running water

"The day's training was a very informative one. We have learned a lot of what we were not aware of," said Jonathan Mukaisi, a farmer in Bung'onye.

"The ball is on our side now and we need to take action on what we have learned. The teamwork will definitely achieve a goal...Working alone will mean you want [only your] own goal...which is to one's disadvantage. Everyone in our village should own a clean sanitation facility for good hygiene in the area."

Thank you for making all of this possible!

October, 2019: Bung'onye Community, Shilangu Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Shilangu Spring is making people in Bung'onye sick. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know this community through the narrative and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with news of success!

Project Videos

Project Photos

Project Type

Springs are water sources that come from deep underground, where the water is filtered through natural layers until it is clean enough to drink. Once the water pushes through the surface of the Earth, however, outside elements like waste and runoff can contaminate the water quickly. We protect spring sources from contamination with a simple waterproof cement structure surrounding layers of clay, stone, and soil. This construction channels the spring’s water through a discharge pipe, making water collection easier, faster, and cleaner. Each spring protection also includes a chlorine dispenser at the waterpoint so community members can be assured that the water they are drinking is entirely safe. Learn more here!

Giving Udpate: Bung'onye Community, Shilangu Spring

February, 2021

A year ago, your generous donation helped Bung’onye Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Uniter. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Bung'onye Community.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Bung'onye Community maintain access to safe, reliable water. Together, they keep The Water Promise.

We’re confident you'll love joining this world-changing group committed to sustainability!

"In the past, getting water from this spring was very hard."

"Accessing it was much harder during the rainy season because the water used to swell everywhere, making the environment so muddy."

"Besides that, a lot of siltation was taking place, making the water unsafe for human use."

"Also, much time was being wasted in collecting water as only one of the spring's eyes was in use."

"Drawing water now is very easy and quick because all of the spring's eyes were captured."

"The water itself is safe and clean free from disease-causing micro-organisms. This has impacted me positively as I am no longer prone to waterborne diseases."

"I, personally, was a victim of water-related diseases, but since completion of this spring, I am no longer prone to waterborne and water-related diseases."

"For me, currently, I am not seeing any challenge when it comes to using or consuming water from this water point."

Navigating through intense dry spells, performing preventative maintenance, conducting quality repairs when needed and continuing to assist community leaders to manage water points are all normal parts of keeping projects sustainable. The Water Promise community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Bung'onye Community maintain access to safe, reliable water.

We’d love for you to join this world-changing group committed to sustainability.

The most impactful way to continue your support of Bung'onye Community – and hundreds of other places just like this – is by joining our community of monthly givers.

Your monthly giving will help provide clean water, every month... keeping The Water Promise.


In memory of Vildana Pilica Radoncic