Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 386 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/08/2024

Project Features

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When we left town to visit Francis Were Spring in Munenga, it was already a hot morning. It had not rained for a few days, hence the sun was hot and the roads were dusty. When we arrived, we saw how Munenga is a rural area that is highly vegetated. The area has a lot of trees and the farms are full of crops. The community is very quiet because it is sparsely populated since people own very huge pieces of land. The houses are made of mud walls and the roofs are made of either iron sheets or are grass-thatched.

We first learned about Francis Were Spring when we were conducting a community hygiene and sanitation training at Thomas Spring. There, we were approached by a young man who informed us about a high yielding spring that needed protection. After the training, we carried him on our motorcycle and he directed us to Francis Were Spring. We have been working with the Munenga community ever since.

Most families in Munenga are nuclear. Many men in the community are considered the breadwinners for their families, and as such most of them have moved to the city to look for greener pastures to provide a better livelihood for their families. The women are left at home to manage their households and families on their own. This includes fetching water for all drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs, looking after the children, and tending to their farms.

Most people from this community depend on mixed farming for a living. They plant a variety of crops including maize, beans, groundnuts, vegetables, cassava, sweet potatoes, and bananas. Some families raise cattle and most of them keep poultry for subsistence use. It is rare to find any land that has been left fallow.

Most of the community members from this region begin their day with house chores at around 6:00 am. The women are on the front line of ensuring all work is done. After finishing the house chores, women go to fetch water at the spring before the sun becomes too hot. They later go to the farms and come back at midday to prepare lunch for their families. During the present harvesting season, the women are tasked with manually shelling the maize, threshing beans, and airing each to dry. In the evening, the women look for firewood and prepare dinner. The day ends at 8:00 pm when the family retires to bed to save on kerosene, which is used to light lamps.

Water from Francis Were Spring is currently not safe for consumption because the spring box, the place right behind the spring's main output, is open and therefore exposed to all kinds of contamination. This includes risks from dirty runoff, animal waste, and human contaminants. Contamination worsens during the rainy season when stormwater runoff heightens these inputs. We noticed there is also green algae growing in the water, which in addition to harboring bacteria and microorganisms, makes the water have a bad smell. Despite all this, the spring currently serves 386 people because it is high yielding and permanent.

We observed that the women thoroughly clean the containers used for fetching drinking water using soap and rags. They do not bother to clean the rest of the containers used for fetching water for other household chores. This showed us how committed these community members are to improving their sanitation and hygiene situation however they can, and that they are eager to learn more.

At the spring, people dip their buckets directly into the water and wait for them to fill up from the water that collects in a deep pool. People here mostly complain of typhoid and stomachache after drinking this water, with cases becoming rampant during the rainy season. Most of the women also suffer from exhaustion because they live far from the water source, which weakens their immune system and leaves them susceptible to these waterborne and water-related illnesses whether they make the trip to this spring, or decide against it.

"When my wife is tired, she ends up going to a nearby, low yielding, unprotected spring which drains slowly [instead of Francis Were Spring], thus making the water have a bad taste and breed bacteria," said farmer Mr. Gideon Mutiso.

"On such occasions, the whole family falls sick and we end up quarreling. Now she sources drinking water from the gravity spring (Francis Were) and goes to the nearby spring to source water for other chores."

Even with this hierarchy in place for clean water, Francis Were Spring is far from clean.

"Many people in this community have a bad habit of washing clothes and bathing in the river. This leads to [the] spread of diseases from upstream to downstream," said 76-year-old farmer Mr. Francis Mwani. "We are eagerly waiting for you to enlighten the community on the dangers of such ignorant practices."

Munenga village is full of vibrant and active community members. Just a week after we vetted this spring, we went back and found that they had already mobilized sand for spring protection. They made a promise that they would be ready within weeks because they have suffered a lot and they would not take the chance of going another month without clean water. While the community has embraced farming to reduce hunger and poverty, their poor hygiene and sanitation situation still poses a big threat to their well being.

What we can do:

Spring Protection

Protecting the spring will help provide access to cleaner and safer water. Construction will keep surface runoff and other contaminants out of the water. The village elders in Munenga will help to sensitize community members on the importance of participating in the spring protection by providing the locally available materials and attending the hygiene and sanitation training. The chief will also help in solving land disputes and restrictions to water access whenever they occur. 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 a task predominantly carried out by women and young girls. Protecting the spring and offering training and support will, therefore, help empower the female members of the community by freeing up more of their time and energy to engage and invest in income-generating activities.


Community members will attend hygiene and sanitation training for at least 2 days. This training will ensure participants have the knowledge they need about healthy practices and their importance. The facilitator plans to use Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST), Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), 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 is consumed. We will also emphasize the importance of handwashing.

Training will result in the formation of a committee that will oversee the operations and maintenance of 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 channels. The fence will keep out destructive animals, and the drainage will keep the area’s mosquito population at a minimum.

Sanitation Platforms

Most latrines in Munenga are made of mud floors which are rarely cleaned. We observed one log floor latrine which did not have any walls or roof, and flies were all over the hole.

On the final day of training, participants will select 5 families that should benefit from new concrete latrine floors. Training will inform the community and selected families on what they need to contribute to make this project a success. They must mobilize locally available materials, including bricks, clean sand, and gravel. The 5 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

January, 2020: Munenga Community, Francis Were Spring Project Complete!

Munenga Community now has access to clean water! Francis Were Spring has been transformed into a flowing source of water thanks to your donation. We protected the spring, constructed 5 sanitation platforms for different households in the community, and we trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices.

Women celebrate the spring

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

The construction process ran very smoothly because all of the locally available materials were being replenished by community members as soon as the artisans determined the need. A good drainage channel had been put in earlier by the community members too, and this made work easier for the artisan. The sand was being brought from a nearby stream while stones were extracted from rocky farms and from people's yards.

Community members carry stones across the river to the spring construction site

Women and men lent their strength to the artisan to help him with manual labor. 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 pipes - 2 in this case due to the spring's naturally high yield - were fixed low in place through the headwall to direct the water from the reservoir to the drawing area.

Artisan in a moment of laughter while working on the stairs

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 pipes. The source area was then filled up with clean stones and sand and covered with a thick plastic tarp to prevent potential sources of contamination.

Kids carry grass to be planted at the spring

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.

All smiles at the spring

"The spring is now accessible and the danger of slipping as we carry water has been eliminated. Fetching water will be easy and we will be carrying clean water home regardless of the time of day and season of the year," said an excited Everlyne Moi, a farmer in the community.

Thumbs up for clean water

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 sanitation platform owners

New Knowledge

Local leader and farmer Mr. Gideon Mutiso 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. But as it turns out, there were several conflicts that came into play with the scheduled training.

On that same day, there ended up being a burial in the area, in addition to one the following day that families were planning for. There was also a parent meeting in the school that many went to. Finally, Mr. Mutiso was so busy that he also forgot to spread word of the training! On the day we arrived we had to go door to door to recruit participants, availing 14 community members. Though a lower turnout than we had hoped for, we were pleased with having enough people to continue with the training as planned given all of the other events going on. The training was conducted under a tree that provided good shade. The participants sat on plastic chairs which were provided by our host Mr. Mutiso.

A community member demonstrates handwashing during training

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.

Trainer Joan Were shows community members how to build a tippy tap for handwashing

During the handwashing portion of the health promotion session, facilitator Joan Were demonstrated how to make a leaky tin and tippy tap, 2 different tools for handwashing that are easily and quickly made from typical household items. The participants appreciated the cheap and time-saving technologies and promised to embrace the leaky tins especially because they are simple to make and can be ideal even when hosting many people.

While covering proper water handling techniques and water treatment, the participants were able to appreciate the importance of having lids on their water containers and replacing drinking water after every 3 days. Some even said that they would look for smaller pots which will force them to be refilling them with fresh water on a regular basis.

A moment of laughter during toothbrushing demonstration

"This training has helped me to understand that if simple, everyday habits are done in the right way, then the results can be rewarding with things like good health and general well being," said Linet Namulanda, a farmer in the community.

Shy and happy girls at the spring

This project has helped families in Munenga to acquire 2 fundamental human rights: access to water of sufficient quality and in sufficient quantity; and access to sanitation. The project has served as a catalyst in the processes of training and health education with respect to water and sanitation, health promotion, and environmental education.

Women enjoying the spring water

We have left a water user committee and a well-equipped community health volunteer who were sufficiently trained in the correct use and maintenance of the spring and who are able to solve any common problem that might come up. They will also disseminate the information to ensure that the whole community is practicing good personal and environmental hygiene.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

December, 2019: Munenga Community, Francis Were Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Francis Were Spring is making people in Munenga 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 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 Update: Munenga Community, Francis Were Spring

February, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Munenga Community 2.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Munenga Community 2 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!

"Before, it wasn't easy for us small children to get water. The elderly members of the community wouldn't allow us to draw water before them, thus, a lot of our precious time was wasted waiting for them to finish their business at the spring first."

"Now, we have time to do other domestic activities...We spend very little time at the spring."

"We are able to do our homework revisions and even help our parents as compared to the time when the spring was not protected and we used to waste a lot of time."

Felix at the spring with Field Officer Betty

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 Munenga Community 2 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 Munenga Community 2 – 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.