Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 280 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2019

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/05/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

Eshiakhulo Community is a rural, peaceful, and vegetated farming community. Farmers living here used to specialize in sugarcane to sell to the Mumias Sugar Company, but the factory has since gone under. Now that there isn't an easy place to sell sugarcane, farmers plant more diverse crops and their wives have to work just as hard as their husbands to earn enough income. Because of this, the extended family often lives with a nuclear family so that grandparents can take care of grandchildren while the parents are out working.

An average day starts at 6 am as children prepare for school. Children rush to fetch water from an unprotected spring, making several trips to get enough. They hurry back to eat breakfast with the other members of the family. People like to do their farm work in the early morning before the sun is too high in the sky.

The hottest hours are weathered indoors or in the shade, and work starts back up at 3pm as people go to the market to trade for what they need to make dinner.

The unprotected spring children rush to every morning is called Asman Sumba Spring. The water there is unsafe for drinking. It is covered in green algae and the banks are muddy. It gets very hard to fetch water when it rains as the chance of slipping and falling in the mud is high. Community members fixed a pipe in the ground to make water a little easier to fetch, but this isn't protecting the water from contamination.

Wild animals, cats, dogs, and cattle can come right up to the spring and drink directly from it. Nonetheless, people fill their containers with this water to bring it back for drinking, cooking, and cleaning.

''I found people fetching water from this spring since I got married in 1974. It's not safe for us but because we have nowhere else to get water we usually drink it," said Rose Anzwenu.

"Recently my grandchild was admitted to the hospital because of stomachache and diarrhea, which I suspect the cause might be this water."

What we can do:


''Most of the latrines in this community are in a bad state and not safe for use, especially during raining season when they do collapse... The hygiene on the other hand is not good because some people don't have latrines which forces some to use sugarcane plantations and bushes," said Mr. Sumba.

The sanitation and hygiene situation here is not good. A few families have tried to build latrines and have clotheslines and dish racks, but the majority do not have them. Therefore, the community needs improvement in building safe latrines, cleaning them, and covering them regularly. They need dish racks and clotheslines to dry their things safely off the ground.

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

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.

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.

Project Updates

September, 2020: Water Takes Shape at Asman Sumba Spring

At The Water Project, we commit to our promise of ensuring safe, reliable water in every community we serve. And this promise doesn’t stop when we finish building a new water point. We continually monitor all of our water points to ensure their function and quality.

Following the global trend of climate change that is driving severe weather patterns to the extreme, last year in Kenya was one of the driest on record. As a result, we are seeing increased regional fluctuations in the water table. Since the completion of Asman Sumba Spring in Eshiakhulo Community, we’ve found that the water sources feeding the spring have slowed, limiting the intended benefit of this protected water source. Though not common, this does happen occasionally.

Because of our commitment to people in this community (and the lasting impact that our supporters want to make), we decided to implement a new technology at Asman Sumba Spring: a 1,000-liter reservoir tank.

Water flowing at Asman Sumba Spring from the newly completed reservoir tank.

The reservoir tank fills overnight and is fitted with a tap to keep the water in place until it is needed come morning. While we expect the seasonal rains to recharge the spring and provide more water, the reservoir tank will enable Eshiakhulo community members to start each morning and evening with a ready water supply. The reservoir tank will help to ensure that the spring remains an accessible and reliable source of water even in seasons when the yield of the spring is lowest.

Finding Unity in Water Access During the Pandemic

As the ones depending on it for water, community members shared our concerns about the spring’s decreasing yield since its completion.

"The spring had been earmarked for construction of a reservoir tank since March of 2020 since the discharge speed was very low, at 6 minutes to fill a 20-liter container. This was making the community suffer and also caused conflict as they had to wait in line so that the container could be filled. They do not have any other water source that supplies safe and clean drinking water," recalled Team Leader Emmah Nambuye.

Everyone agreed it was time to find a solution to once again improve their access to clean, safe, and reliable water from Asman Sumba Spring.

Before we began any new construction, we worked closely with water users to explain the intended process and goal of the reservoir tank. Once the community reached a consensus on the new technology, we asked them to deliver the locally available construction materials to the spring site.


Area Team Leader Emmah Nambuye (second from right) and Regional Director Humphrey Buradi (right) met with community members over several weeks to explain the proposed reservoir tank and show where its new measurements would fall.

These materials included bricks, sand, large rocks, and smaller stones. Some community members would have to break down stones by hand to create gravel. In addition, certain homes would need to volunteer to cook food for the artisan and work team, while others volunteered their time as day laborers to assist the artisan. In exchange, our team would provide the concrete, hardware, and an expert artisan to lead the construction.

But collecting the materials presented a new problem within the community.

"The major challenge that had caused delay is that the Eshiakhulo community never had time to sit together and collect the required materials for the reservoir tank construction," Emmah said.

"The majority of able-bodied members of the community are working outside the county and they rarely come home, except during long holidays like December. The Water User Committee leadership had tried all ways but had nearly given up."

Then, in April, something shifted.

"During our sensitization training on COVID-19, we noticed that the number of the community members had increased and we could see new faces around because the pandemic had caused them to come back home as most jobs closed doors. We seized the opportunity and urged the Water User Committee Chairperson, Mr. Juma, to talk to the new members on the need of the reservoir tank."

At a COVID-19 sensitization training in April, our team noticed more and different community members in attendance than those who typically came.

"Amazingly, they quickly agreed and when the rest of the water users saw that sand and bricks had been donated (which were a challenge to them as it cost money) they came together and gathered the rest of the materials like hardcore (large stones) and ballast (gravel)."

This community member donated the bricks needed for the reservoir tank.

"Within 5 days, all the local materials had been gathered at the spring and the community was waiting for our hardware materials and artisan to commence work. During the construction, the artisan had an easy time since everyone offered to help and the work went on rather quickly."

Breaking stones into gravel.

"For us, we are happy that COVID-19 helped the community to come together to get a reservoir tank and now the discharge speed is 35 seconds. It has also unified the community and conflicts are a past thing. Now the functionality of Asman Sumba is great and everybody is happy!"

From Standard Spring to Reservoir Tank: A Step-By-Step Construction Process

When all of the materials were finally ready, we arrived in Eshiakhulo and began work.

The reservoir tank groundbreaking ceremony marked a turning point in unity and water access for Eshiakhulo community members.

The reservoir tank construction process is very similar to the spring’s original construction. First, it was all hands on deck to excavate the site. We began by removing most of the external parts of the existing spring structure, including the stone pitching, cement drainage channel, and stairs. We also deepened and widened the spring’s drainage channel to create room for the new collection point, as the original spot becomes the site of the reservoir tank.

Demolition of the spring's original rub walls, access area, and stairs.

To allow continued water access during construction, and to avoid washing away the new work, we diverted the spring water for several days. We do this by either redirecting the water to the underground escape channels dug during the spring’s initial construction or by using a long PVC pipe that we connect to the discharge pipe and angle away from the work area.

Community members help mix materials for the artisan's use.

Some of the few key spring structures we keep intact are the headwall and wing walls. Originally forming the outermost walls of the spring’s access point, we turn these features into the interior back walls of the reservoir tank. In front of the headwall, we measure 1 meter wide by 1 meter high by 7.5 meters long to form the new tank.

Artisan Joseph at work on the reservoir tank's brick walls and gate valve.

Inside these measurements, we pour the tank’s concrete foundation using a mixture of cement, sand, gravel, and waterproof cement together with a mesh wire reinforcement. We then begin brickwork to join the new foundation to the headwall until the tank is 1 meter high. We fit the newly formed wall opposite the original headwall with a gate valve and an overflow pipe at 0.5-meter and 0.9-meter height, respectively.

Laying the new access area's foundation.

The gate valve is what community members will use to access water, similar to turning on a faucet at a sink. The overflow pipe serves to release water beyond the tank capacity, helping to prevent cracks and damage from too much pressure building up inside the tank.

Joseph plasters the reservoir tank's interior.

Next, we plaster the tank both internally and externally to create a smooth finish. Upon completing the plasterwork, we wait 1 day for the tank walls to cure.

Home from school due to Kenya's national coronavirus-related school closures, children came wanting to help the artisan each day, too. Here, they help remove water from the new access area under construction.

Once the reservoir tank walls are complete, we move on to one of the most important features of the tank: its cover, or top slab. First, we lay reinforcement steel across the reservoir tank walls, followed by iron sheets and a layer of the same concrete mixture used to create the tank’s foundation.

Leveling the ground around the new reservoir tank, which sits ready for a top slab with steel bars laid first.

This slab must be executed with precision; otherwise, weak points could lead to cracks and consequent contamination of the spring water beneath it. The top slab is then sealed to the tank walls with a unique type of mortar that can be removed for any future need to access the interior of the tank without having to break the slab.

Fitting the metal and wire over the steel bars for the top slab.

Nearing completion, we create a new drawing point in front of the gate valve. We place 4 new tiles on the floor to maintain the water point’s beauty and to help protect the cement from the erosive force of the water. On either side of the new collection point, we rebuild the cement drainage channel and its surrounding stone pitching. Finally, we construct a staircase next to the tank, connecting community members’ original path to the spring with the new collection area. The stairs enhance easy entry and exit from the spring after drawing water.

Pouring the top slab's concrete.

The reservoir tank takes 2 days to set and cure before we allow the spring water to flow through it for use. Finally, after much anticipation, the reservoir tank is ready for use!

Completed reservoir tank at Asman Sumba Spring.

Community members were thrilled to see the spring’s newly improved discharge rate of 31 seconds. As always, we will continue to monitor Asman Sumba Spring just as we did before the reservoir tank. For now, we celebrate this new milestone in Eshiakhulo community members' access to safe, clean, and reliable water.

July, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Mercyline Ogonga

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.

Mercyline Ogonga, or "Mercy" for short, is a 24-year-old farmer and mother of 4 in Eshiakhulo Village who relies on Asman Sumba Spring for all of her daily water needs.

Though the pandemic has brought great changes and stressors to her life, the first things you notice about Mercy are her strong spirit, bubbly personality, and of course, her ear-to-ear smile.

Mercyline Ogonga, on right, stands with her children for a photo. It was no secret where her children get their smiles and positive energy from.

Our team recently visited Eshiakhulo to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point. 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 shared her story of how the coronavirus has impacted her life.

Team member Betty Mwangi met Mercyline outside her home to conduct the interview. Both Betty and Mercy observed social distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. Their questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.

Mercy stands at the entry to her homestead to meet Betty.

What is one thing that has changed in your community since the protection of Asman Sumba Spring?

"Improved health - there are no cases of waterborne diseases like before. People have confidence in the spring water because it's safer than before. The water is also used for farming around the spring including both vegetables and fishkeeping. People nowadays do not move long distances in search of clean water."

Mercy does some laundry using water from Asman Sumba Spring.

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

"Having a clean water point has helped me in that I'm confident of the water that I drink as well as in sanitation and hygiene purposes. It has also helped me in not moving long distances searching for clean drinking water, whereby the movement could make me possibly contract the virus by meeting with many people."

Mercy washes her hands with soap and water from the spring at a leaky tin handwashing station she installed at the entrance to her homestead.

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?

"I think it has changed because while fetching water, one has to wait one at a time, which is time-consuming. There is fear that one might have tampered with the pipe and maybe they are infected."

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

"Kids are not going to school, so they are at home. The children can't play freely with their friends because of fear [of contracting the virus]. With the lockdown, some families are locked in other towns and they can't reach out to their other family members. It has brought burden to the family in that we are forced to help those in lockdown by sending them money, yet we are in the village. There is also tension among families once one member is out; we get afraid that they might come back infected."

Mercy puts on her homemade mask.

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

"There are restrictions on movement and gathering, hence affecting movement and staying together as a group such as during burials. It has affected our socializing since mostly we stay indoors if one has nothing to do outside, which is hectic. I find it difficult to control the kids and telling them not to play outside. Having children while at home is disturbing because you have to - most of the time - concentrate on them. [The pandemic] has also affected business in that customers are fewer because the economy is also down."

Mercy puts on her homemade mask.

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

"We are handwashing using soap and water, observing social distancing especially during burials, and wearing masks whenever in gathering. The community health volunteers are moving around advising people to take nutritional food like vegetables and make sure they are well cleaned [to help boost their immune systems]."

Mercy kept the COVID-19 prevention training lively, peppering the facilitators with questions and scenarios.

When asked where she receives information about COVID-19, Mercy listed the radio, television, 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?

"Being told why it is important to be avoiding gathering, putting on face masks, avoiding handshakes and hugging, and observing social distancing in case you find yourself in a gathering."

Mery asks another question at COVID-19 prevention training.

"Mercy seems to have understood all about the COVID-19 training that we trained her community on before, and she is using the same training guidance in her home and with her family." - Interviewer Betty Mwangi

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Eshiakhulo Community, Asman Sumba 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.

Facilitators (in masks and gloves) demonstrate social distancing at training

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 Eshiakhulo, Kenya.

We trained more than 30 people 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.

Trainer Betty explains the importance of handwashing with soap and clean water

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.

Trainer Adelaide demonstrating handwashing at the newly installed leaky tin (poking out from the bush)

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.

A community member demonstrating handwashing at the new leaky tin

By the end of training, we installed a new handwashing station with soap near the community’s spring. 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.

A community member demonstrating handwashing at the new leaky tin

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.

Training in progress with community members observing social distancing as a requirement of attending training

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.

June, 2019: Eshiakhulo Community, Asman Sumba Spring Project Complete

Eshiakhulo Community is celebrating its new protected spring, so celebrate with them! Asman Sumba Spring has been transformed into a flowing, safe source of water thanks to your donation. The spring is protected from contamination, five sanitation platforms have been provided for the community, and training has been done on sanitation and hygiene.

Spring Protection

Construction at Asman Sumba Spring was successful and water is now flowing from the discharge pipe.

''For a very long time, ever since I got married, I have been drinking unclean water. I have been suffering - getting sick every now and then because of bad water but now the water project for which you came and protected our water,'' said Mrs. Anzwenu.

"I will not fall sick again because of dirty water."

After visiting this community sometime back last year to assess the need, we were first able to schedule the protection of Asman Sumba Spring for August 2019. But amazingly enough for this community, a slot opened up in March and they were asked if they were willing to host the project early. Community members didn't hesitate to say yes and were ready for our work team within four days. They had gathered all of the supplementary materials like stones and sand that would be needed.

The Process:

The community worked alongside our artisan to make this spring protection successful, gathering supplementary materials like sand and stones and making meals for the work team.

The spring area was excavated with jembes, hoes, and spades to create space for setting the foundation of polyethylene, wire mesh, and concrete. Cement, waterproof coating, ballast, and sand were mixed together to make a very strong foundation.

Brickwork started whereby the artisan took all of the required measurements of the spring structure before proceeding with the work. Construction of the superstructure continued with discharge pipes fixed in the brick wall. Stairs were built on one side of the spring to allow in and out movement by users.

Stone pitching along the lower part of the spring was done to prevent soil from eroding and blocking the outlet drainage. Finally, the plastering of the walls and the floor was done, and tiles were placed below the discharge pipes to keep the falling water from hitting the cement.

The spring was then left for two days to undergo curing and hardening before being backfilled using stones.

Polythene was stretched across the top and covered with soil to allow clean water to flow from the pipe. Community members promised to dig cut-off drainage at the slope of the spring to divert surface water from entering the spring and to also plant grass over the protected area to prevent erosion. They have already planted a fence that protects the area behind the spring from animals and people who would cross through the area.

Sanitation Platforms

All five sanitation platforms have been installed and make wonderful, easy to clean latrine floors. These five families are happy about this milestone of having a latrine of their own. We will continue to encourage them to finish building walls and roofs over their new latrine floors as we visit for monitoring and evaluation.

A couple next to their new sanitation platform and the pit they sunk for their latrine

New Knowledge

As we began building the protection at Asman Sumba Spring, we saw it wise to train all of the beneficiaries who fetch water from this spring. We wanted to provide knowledge and understanding about how they will handle the spring to keep it safe as well as teach them about good hygiene and sanitation. We were able to recruit participants through the contact person and his mother, who are both spring users. They went around and invited other spring users to attend.

During our training sessions, it was hot and sunny, but we were not affected in any way since the training took place at a homestead with a lot of shade trees.

Participants learned about:

– Leadership and governance for the spring committee

During this session, the facilitator grouped the participants into three groups for brainstorming and discussions. It was great to see how involved everyone was and how eager they were to elect water committee users to oversee spring activities.

– Management and maintenance of the spring

– Income-generating activities
– Personal hygiene, highlighting handwashing and dental hygiene

Dental hygiene training

Community members were surprised about there being ten steps of handwashing. They also learned that they should always use running water and a cleaning agent. They promised to practice the steps immediately as they were going to take their lunch.

– Environmental hygiene

The facilitator asked the participants how often they clean their bedding. They should be airing them as well as cleaning their bedrooms. The majority responded by saying they normally wash their bedding once a month, while others would rarely do so. The trainer informed them that they should be airing their bedding outside in direct sunlight by hanging them on a clothesline and cleaning their bedrooms on a daily basis to prevent bedbugs and lice.

– Waterborne and water-related disease, along with water treatment methods

''This training will change our lives so much since almost everything you have taught has really touched us very much. We are seeing that we have been doing things out of ignorance without knowing the consequences,'' said Mr. Makokha.

Thank You for making all of this possible!

April, 2019: Eshiakhulo Community, Asman Sumba Spring Project Underway

Dirty water from Asman Sumba Spring is making people in Eshiakhulo Community sick. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to solve this issue by building 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 again 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!


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