Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 280 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Dec 2019

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/05/2024

Project Features

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It was a chilly early morning at 10 am when my two colleagues and I went to Shikangania Village. We met a community member who took us on a tour of the village and to see Abungana Spring.

Shikangania is a rural area with cool, green surroundings. The homes are made of mud and others with bricks, while roofs are mostly covered with iron sheets.

Most people are peasant farmers who plant maize, beans, sweet potatoes, and other vegetables. They go and sell them at the nearby market every Thursday and Saturday.

Each day in Shikangania begins with the search for water. This search lands them at Abungana Spring.

Upon arriving at the spring, it was saddening to see the kind of dirty water people are drinking everyday. The water source is an open source, and therefore it is exposed to many agents of contamination that make it unsafe for human consumption. People put out barrels when it rains - but since they need water for cooking, drinking, cleaning, watering animals, bathing, and irrigation, this rainwater runs out very quickly. This sends them right back to Abungana Spring.

Containers of all sizes are dunked directly under the water's surface until full. Most of these aren't routinely cleaned because the people believe that they won't get dirty if they're just used for water. These are hauled back home and either left in the kitchen as is, or dumped into a large barrel for storage.

"Due to lack of clean water to drink, most of the community members suffer from waterborne diseases which have now become rampant. The community really needs to be assisted by protecting the spring so as to curb this," said Mrs. Indakuli.

There is a nearby orphanage that will also greatly benefit from having cleaner water at Abungana Spring. They have some plastic tanks at the orphanage that dry up, so they have to rely on the spring water as well. "The water from the spring has been serving us since 2006 when the orphanage was founded. During the dry season when our tanks dry up, we rely on the spring water," said Miss Diana Barasa.

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.


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

There are very few pit latrines in the community.

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

May, 2020: Shikangania Community, Abungana Spring Project Complete!

Please note, all photos in this report were taken before social distancing recommendations went into effect.

Shikangania Community now has access to clean water! Abungana 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.

Community members fetch water and make a splash at completed Abungana Spring.

"Owning a spring is something good, and I am glad to be part of the people who have benefited from this project. This spring will reduce the spread of waterborne diseases and give easy access to clean and safe water," said Mark Abungana, the spring's landowner.

Protected Abungana Spring

Preparing for Spring Protection

Community members worked together to source and carried all locally available construction materials to the spring. These included bricks, sand, stones, and fencing poles. Some people also chiseled away at large stones to break them down into gravel. Because people have to carry most items by hand, the materials collection process can take anywhere from a few weeks to months.

When everything was prepared, we sent a lorry to the community to deliver the rest of the construction materials, including the cement, plastic tarps, and hardware. Then, our artisan and field officers deployed to the spring to begin work. While the field officers traveled to and from the site each day throughout the construction process, the artisan remained in the community. Households provided meals and a place to sleep each night for the artisan.

The last step before construction commenced was taking a water sample from the unprotected spring. We sent the sample to a government laboratory for testing to identify the kinds of contaminants in the water before its protection. These often include fertilizers and pesticides from farms, animal and human feces, and any number of harmful bacteria. We then shared the test results with the community to identify extra steps they could take to help ensure the spring's water remains clean and safe after protection.

From Open Source to Protected Spring: A Step-by-Step Process

At last, it was time to dig in at the spring! Women and men lent their strength to the artisan each day to help with the manual labor. First, we cleared and excavated the spring area. We dug a drainage channel below the spring and several surface runoff diversion channels above and around the spring—this helps to divert the environmental contaminants identified in the pre-construction water quality test.

Excavation begins at the spring site.

To ensure community members could still fetch water throughout the construction process, we also dug temporary diversion channels from the spring's eye around the construction site. This allowed water to flow without severely disrupting community members' water needs or construction work.

Artisan stands on a tarp and wire foundation while pouring concrete.

Excavation created space for setting the spring's foundation made of thick plastic tarp, wire mesh, concrete, and waterproof cement. After setting the base, we started brickwork to build the headwall, wing walls, and the stairs.

Catch! Brickwork begins on top of the concrete foundation.

Next, we began one of the most crucial steps of spring protection to ensure a fully functional water point: setting the discharge pipe. The discharge pipe has to be set low enough in place in the headwall so that the water level inside never rises above the spring's eye, yet high enough to leave 18-20 inches between the pipe and the spring floor to allow room for the average jerrycan (a 20-liter container) to sit beneath the pipe without making contact.

Wall construction

If the discharge pipe were placed too high above the spring's eye, too much backpressure could force the flow to emerge elsewhere. Too low, and community members would not be able to easily access the water. We embedded the pipe using clay (or mortar when the clay is in short supply) and placed it at a slight incline to ensure water flows in the right direction.

Setting the discharge pipe.

In coordination with brickwork, we pitched medium to large stones on both sides of the spring's drainage channel. We then cemented and plastered each stone group into place, forming the rub walls. These help to discourage people and animals from trying to stand on that area, which could cause soil erosion and, thus, a clogged drainage area.

Cementing in the stone pitching to form a rub wall

With brickwork and stone pitching completed, we turned to cement and plaster both sides of the headwall and wing walls. This reinforces the brickwork and prevents water in the reservoir from seeping through the walls. In turn, this builds enough pressure in the reservoir box to push water out through the discharge pipe.


As the headwall and wing walls were curing, we cemented and plastered the stairs and installed 4 tiles beneath the discharge pipes. The tiles protect the concrete from the erosive force of the falling water, beautify the spring, and facilitate easy cleaning of the spring floor.

Stair construction

With the tiles in place, we transitioned to the final stages of construction - backfilling the reservoir box. First, we cleared the collection box of any debris that may have fallen in since its construction, such as dead leaves or other items. Then we redirected the temporary diversion channels back into the reservoir box, channeling water into this area for the first time. We closed off all of the other exits to start forcing the water through the discharge pipe only.

Tile setting

With much help from the community, we filled up the reservoir area with the clean and large stones they gathered, arranging them in layers like a well-fitting puzzle. We covered the stones with a thick plastic tarp to minimize potential sources of contamination from aboveground, followed by a layer of soil. We piled enough soil on top to create a slight mound to compensate for the backfill's future settlement.

Backfilling with stones

Community members transplanted grass onto the backfilled soil to help prevent erosion. Finally, the collection area was fenced in to discourage any person or animal from walking on it since compaction can lead to disturbances in the backfill layers and potentially compromise water quality.

Planting grass at the spring

The entire construction process took about 2 weeks of work and patience to allow the cement and plaster to finish curing. As soon as it was ready, people got the okay from our field officers to begin fetching water. We met them there to celebrate this momentous occasion. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day flowing in all directions.

Fetching water at the completed spring

Sanitation Platforms

All 5 sanitation platforms have been completed and handed over to their new owners. 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, and for other families to replicate the design after having helped construct these examples.

Representing the rest of his family, a new sanitation platform owner

New Knowledge

Community member Jared Eboi helped organize the training in coordination with our team. Together we found the community's preferred date for training while considering other events in the community calendar such as the agricultural season and expected gatherings. When the day arrived, the lead field officer for the project Victor Musemi deployed to the site with a team.

Training begins with Facilitator Victor Musemi

22 people attended training, which happened to be on a sunny and calm day. The weather made us look for a shade around the spring, which was safe and favorable for the training. We found a good spot under a tree where we sat and started off the training since we needed a place near the spring for practicals, and it was indeed conducive.

Victor teaches the 10 steps of handwashing.

We covered several topics including community participation in the project; leadership and governance; personal and environmental hygiene; water handling and treatment; operation and maintenance of the spring and sanitation platforms; dental hygiene; the 10 steps of handwashing, and how to make and use a tippy tap and leaky tin. During the leadership and governance session, we held an election for the leaders of the newly formed water user committee.

Trainer Victor pours water for a community member as he washes his hands.

We also brainstormed income-generating activities that can be used to start both a community savings account for any future minor repairs to the spring, as well as a cooperative lending group to enable members to develop their own small businesses.

Group discussions at the spring using diagrams to learn about good site management and safe water practices

Because we held this training when the spread of COVID-19 was still in its early stages and was not yet worldwide, this was not a topic we covered. Since then, however, we have developed trainings exclusively on COVID-19 prevention and awareness - see for yourself what we've been up to more recently as we continue to fight COVID-19 on the frontlines in all of the communities we serve.

A community member holds a diagram to present his group's findings.

The participants were very attentive due to the facilitators randomly asking questions and looking for answers throughout the day. Humor from some participants who did a presentation on dental hygiene and handwashing kept everyone awake and engaged. The level of participation from all who attended was good, the facilitators reported.

A participant stands to demonstrate her toothbrushing skills.

One of the most memorable topics was dental hygiene. When asked, the participants named the various dental diseases, including their causes and prevention. When asked for a volunteer to demonstrate toothbrushing, there was both a teenager and a 3-year-old girl who came in front to demonstrate when her mom was too shy to do it. It was a great moment for feedback and learning on gentle toothbrushing techniques.

A participant responds to Trainer Victor at the spring.

Handwashing was another special topic. We asked the members how they wash their hands, and when they do it. We later showed them the 10 handwashing steps to ensure every part of the hand is washed to remove any germs. One participant asked why he was washing his hands when there was no meal. Though the participant was joking, he looked very serious, thus left everyone started laughing!

Everyone was happy to successfully complete training.

"We shall share what we have learned with our children who are in schools and members who are not here. I personally brush my teeth every day using the toothpaste, but I have never bothered to read the manufacturer's instruction, but due to this training I have known the consequences of not reading the instructions given," said Catherine Abungana, the spring's landowner along with Mark Abungana, referring to the recommendation to store toothpaste in a cool, dry place.

A man smiles at the newly protected spring.

When an issue arises concerning the water project, the water user committee is equipped with the necessary skills to rectify the problem and ensure the water point works appropriately. However, if the issue is beyond their capabilities, they can contact our team of field officers to assist them. In addition, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

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: Shikangania Community, Abungana Spring

February, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shikangania 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!

"The water used to be so dirty and the spring was open. Being that the spring is located at the bottom of a slope, all of the dirt from uphill was swept into the spring during the rainy season."

"Waterborne diseases were very common and affected most of the community members, especially children."

"Now, the spring is protected and the water is clean and this blesses my heart."

"My family and I no longer get sick, especially my children, whom I was treating for typhoid all the time."

"I now do farming more and I am saving the money that I used to pay at the hospital because I no longer visit the hospital."

"The water point has helped me and my family maintain higher standards of sanitation and hygiene."

Jared with Field Officer Olivia Bomji at the spring

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 Shikangania 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 Shikangania 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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