Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 175 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2019

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 01/10/2024

Project Features

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Osundwa Spring is located in Buyangu Village, a serene and rural area. Vegetation is dominant with trees, sugarcane, maize, and banana plantations. Arrowroots are also grown, especially along the river and near the spring because arrowroot requires a lot of water for its sustainability. The houses are mud-walled and roofed with iron sheets.

Farm produce is used as food for the family first, and then some of it is sold in order get money to take care of other family needs. Some people also own dairy cattle. Many young men here have motorbikes that they use to ferry people from one place to another at a cost.

An average day for people in this region starts at 5:30 am when women wake up to prepare young children for school and prepare breakfast. Many men leave their homes early to find someone who is willing to hire them for manual labor. They most often end up working on other people's farms or at the large sugar factory. Children go to school at 6 am as women do general cleaning of the house. They wash utensils and go to the spring to fetch water to be used during the day. The number of trips is determined by the needs of the day including bathing, washing clothes and utensils, drinking water for family members, and drinking water for the domestic animals. After fetching water, the women go to the farm and leave the young children with the elderly who stay at home. They come back at noon to prepare lunch for the whole family and do other chores around the house. At 2 pm they go the forest to gather firewood to be used for cooking dinner, and then go to the posho mill to grind maize or millet into flour to be used for dinner also. At around 5:30 pm they start to prepare supper as their family members return. Many families eat super at 6:30 pm and then chat with each other until 7:30 pm bedtime.

The main water source for 175 people living in Buyangu is Osundwa Spring. As one approaches the spring, the path becomes steep and poses danger to the people going to fetch water. The steep hill also allows more contaminants into the water, especially when it rains. Once a person makes it down the hill, they dunk their container directly in the water until it's full. Getting back up the hill with a heavy container of water is a difficult task as well.

"Water from this spring is not clean, but we just have to take it because we don't have an alternative. We get sick often due to consumption of unsafe water and we use a lot of money on hospital bills. I went somewhere and I saw a protected spring and I wished ours could be protected too, but we cannot afford the cost of protecting it [ourselves]," said Mr. Emonyangwa.

What we can do:

Spring Protection

We will protect the spring to ensure that the water is safe, adequate, and secure. Construction will keep surface runoff and other contaminants out of the water. There will be stairs down to the collection point and a pipe that can easily fill water containers. 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.


"Most people go for days without taking a bath and brushing their teeth," admitted Mrs. Osundwa.

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.

In this community, people store their drinking water in a traditional pot known as 'esongo'. The pot keeps the water cold and the pot is used in place of a fridge. It is believed that the water from this pot has a pleasant taste. Water from the pot should be emptied frequently, the pot cleaned, and replaced with fresh water. However, most people just refill the pots without cleaning them and this leads to them drinking even more contaminated water that causes waterborne diseases.

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

At least half of the households here have a pit latrine made of mud. Those without a latrine of their own share with their neighbors. The mud pit latrines we observed are difficult to clean, and water cannot be used. Water, especially when it rains, erodes the mud and endangers the use who stands on the platform to use the latrine.

On the final day of training, participants will select five families that should most benefit from new cement 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 Mercy Chemoi

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 Buyangu to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point, Osundwa 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 Mercy Chemoi shared her story of how the coronavirus is impacting her life and her community. Mercy is a 34-year-old farmer and mother of 4 in Buyangu who also serves as a member of Osundwa Spring's water user committee.

Mercy Chemoi outside her home

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

Mercy reflects on the impacts of Osundwa Spring's protection in light of the pandemic

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

"We hardly suffer from diseases like typhoid and diarrhea since our water is now clean and safe for drinking and other uses. My family and I are healthier than before. Fetching water is also faster and easier; as a result, less time is wasted at the spring. The saved time is used in other income-generating activities."

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

"With this water point, we are able to fetch water and wash our hands frequently with soap. We also drink water without worrying about getting sick since the water is clean and safe."

Mercy (left) and her sisters fetching water from Osundwa 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?

"Before the outbreak of COVID-19, we used to crowd at the spring as each person waited for their turn to fetch water. All that has changed since now we keep social distance and use as minimal time as possible to fetch water and leave."

Mercy fetching water

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

"I am a mother of 4 children with the eldest being 15 and the youngest is 3. With this pandemic, all of them are under my watch all the time. Controlling them is not easy, especially the teenager who likes interacting with his peers who might influence his behavior negatively."

Mercy giving her cow clean drinking water from Osundwa Spring

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

"My husband works as a casual laborer. During this COVID-19 crisis, he hardly gets jobs to earn wages. This has put a strain on our finances. We have had to cut down on our family expenditure in order to survive. I don't know when this condition will come to an end because life is unbearable."

"There was a time I went out to look for casual work to earn some cash but I couldn't find any. People are scared of interacting with anyone from outside their homes for fear of the virus. I was devastated. This pandemic has had a negative impact on the community economically and socially. Petty thieves are also on the increase because everyone is trying all the means to survive."

Mercy and her sisters at home

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

"Washing hands as many times as possible with soap and clean water, wearing masks, and social distancing when in a place with many people."

Mercy handwashing using the leaky tin she set up outside her home

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?

"The number of people to attend a function has been increased to 150 people. I am happy about this because there is an upcoming wedding for my cousin and I wasn't sure if I could attend, but now I am assured of my attendance."

"Though we have to practice preventive measures so that we cannot be exposed to the coronavirus, I am also excited that I can now go to church to worship and join in fellowship anytime."

Mercy with her mask on

What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?

"I look forward to the curfew being removed completely and all learning institutions to be reopened."

When asked where she receives information about COVID-19, Mercy listed the radio, word of mouth, and our team's sensitization training.

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

"Everything we learned during the training was important but what stood out for me was making masks. Since then, I have been making masks and selling them at subsidized prices. This has enabled me to earn a little income to support my family. I have even made a number of them for my children and when they go back to school they will have enough to alternate in a week."

June, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Osundwa 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 Buyangu, 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.

October, 2019: Buyangu Community, Osundwa Spring Project Complete!

Buyangu Community now has access to clean water! Osundwa 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.

Newly completed Osundwa 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.

Community members deliver materials to the construction site

One of the members of the Osundwa community passed on just when the artisan was ready to start the construction of the spring. As a result, our contact person Mr. Daniel Sajida requested us to wait until they were done with funeral arrangements and the burial.

This was because as a community when a family is bereaved they work together and assist each other to give the departed a befitted send-off. Meaning, if construction had started before the burial, no one could have offered to assist the artisan with the spring construction process. Once the community was ready for the project, we deployed our team to the site.

The Process

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 pipe was fixed low in place through the headwall to direct the water from the reservoir to the drawing area.

Brickwork at the spring's headwall

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.

Artisan works on plastering over his cement work

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.

Field Officer Christine Masinde supervises the construction and checks measurements

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

Backfilling with stones

The construction process was interrupted by regular heavy rainfall, especially in the afternoons. The process had to be paused several times as the rain pounded, but eventually, we were able to complete the work. After that, it took about 2 weeks of patience for the concrete to dry.

Backfilling with dirt and planting grass before fencing in the spring box

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.

Mr. Robert Osundwa, a local mason and landowner of the spring, spoke about how many empty promises his community has had before from people promising to protect their spring. This was a different story, he said.

"I can't believe our spring is finally protected and the only contribution we have given is locally available materials. Seeing clean and safe water flowing from the pipe is exciting for we will no longer suffer from waterborne diseases like typhoid, bilharzia, and diarrhea," he told us.

"Thank you for your generous contribution towards this WaSH project."

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

Mr. Daniel Sajida, a farmer and local leader, 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.

18 people attended training. We had hoped for more participants, but given that Tuesday is also market day, most people preferred to go to the market to sell their farm produce and also buy other items at a cheaper price. The training took place in a homestead near the spring. The participants were actively involved in demonstrations and asked questions after each topic. They also jotted down notes for future reference. The weather was calm and sunny therefore the training went on well without any challenges.

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.

Child handwashing during training

Under personal hygiene, handwashing - being an important part of hygiene practices - was discussed in detail. The participants named when they wash their hands and the facilitators demonstrated to them the correct way to wash their hands. They were also allowed to wash their hands well.

This was special because the participants were eager to learn the 10 steps of handwashing and they laughed and corrected each other as they missed the steps. Finally, they managed to get all the steps right.

On-site training

Maintenance of the WaSH facilities was also an exciting topic to teach. The community members sought clarification on how well they could manage the maintenance of the spring. They said that they will make sure that no one interferes with the operation of the spring.

This was special because the participants were taken to the site of the spring construction which made it easy for the facilitators to emphasize spring maintenance. One of the participants said that they had waited for a long time for their spring to be protected and urged other community members to take good care of the spring. If anyone is found tampering with it, they said, that person should be punished.

When the community members were told that fencing and planting of grass were beneficial to the spring's sustainability, one of the community members offered to supply poles and fencing was done then and there. Grass was also planted upstream.

Happy group of participants at training

"Through this training, we have learned to practice proper personal and environmental hygiene in order to prevent infections and diseases. We will make sure that each and every family has a leaky tin and soap/ash near the latrines," said caretaker Mrs. Mercy Chimoli.

"This training is especially beneficial for us women since we are the ones who are responsible for the cleanliness of the family members and the compound too, and in case one of the family members is sick we are the ones who take care of him/her."

Thank you for making all of this possible!

October, 2019: Buyangu Community, Osundwa Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Osundwa Spring is making people in Buyangu Community 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 Update: Buyangu Community, Osundwa Spring

February, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Buyangu 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!

"Before the project, the water source was an open source with a barrier of rocks which used to make the water accumulate at one point. Water was collected there using smaller containers like jugs or bowls to fill the bigger containers. It was a difficult and tiresome way of getting water. Much time was wasted as a lot of care was being exercised when collecting water so as not to dirty it in the process."

"Now, getting water from this water source is very easy, unlike before implementation. There is no need of carrying smaller containers for filling the bigger ones. Implementation has greatly saved us time."

"Entry and exit from the spring have been eased through the intervention made of staircases. All of these have impacted my life very positively. Also, healthwise, I am okay because I do access safe, clean water at all seasons."

"Protection of this spring has helped me achieve my long-term plans which I had before implementation, though it was more challenging initially because I personally used to waste much of my resources in seeking medication."

Mercy fetches water at the spring while she and other women wear masks and observe physical distancing.

"But one year later, after implementation, I managed to save a little of my money which has helped me in doing development - money which would have previously been spent on medication."

A young boy named Keith poses at the spring while he fetches water.

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 Buyangu 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 Buyangu 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.


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