Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 350 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Dec 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/07/2024

Project Features

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Please note: original photos were taken before the COVID-19 pandemic.

350 people in Maraba depend on Nambwaya Spring for all of their daily water needs. Those who fetch water - predominantly women and children - mostly come to the spring in the morning and in the evening. Regardless of how people try to space out their time fetching water, however, they spend a lot of time queueing at the spring. The consequent crowds that form are especially concerning during the pandemic, when community members are trying to avoid groups and limit their time spent in public.

Though the spring is located on a slope, there is a great deal of standing water at the drawing point. People are forced to wade through the water to get to the main collection point, which is dangerous both to their health and safety. For young kids especially, the standing water can reach above their knees. For everyone, standing in the water can lead to cases of Bilharzia and pneumonia since the water is quite cold.

"Stepping in the water in the morning while fetching it is always a risk as there was one time a snake that was hiding in the stagnant water. The water sometimes also stings when people wash arrowroots in it," said young teenager Beverline.

There was once a contractor who came and promised to help this community protect Nambwaya Spring, but after collecting the community's money, he did little to the water source. The community members were forced to get a plastic container that they cut into a makeshift discharge pipe, enabling them to draw water from the spring. But the container inevitably misses some of the spring's water, creating a slow discharge rate and adding to the lines and crowds.

"Sometimes we come to fetch the water and discover that the plastic container is missing. This forces one to go and get one from home, so sometimes you are forced to give up and fetch water later or call off the whole exercise till later," explained 52-year-old farmer Irene Ayuma Indakwa.

There are many contaminants in this water, ranging from dirty surface runoff to harmful parasites and bacteria, and even animals drinking directly from the source. Community members report that they at times find their neighbors bathing directly in the stagnant pool, especially at night, adding contaminants to the water everyone else has to stand it. The water's cloudy nature and surrounding bushes also provide favorable habitats to dangerous animals such as snakes - a big concern for those who have to spend so much time there daily.

Time lost at the spring means time lost at work, on the farm, at the market, and at home for adults. For children, it means they often spend their evenings at the spring instead of doing their homework. Everyone's opportunities for productivity are hurt by this unprotected water source.

What We Can Do:

Spring Protection

Protecting the spring will help provide access to cleaner and safer water and reduce the time people have to spend to fetch it. 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 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 and their education.

Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19, and More

To hold trainings during the pandemic, we work closely with both community leaders and the local government to approve small groups to attend training. We ask community leaders to invite a select yet representative group of people to attend training who will then act as ambassadors to the rest of the community to share what they learn. We also communicate our expectations of physical distancing and wearing masks for all who choose to attend.

The training will focus on improved hygiene, health, and sanitation habits in this community. We will also have a dedicated session on COVID-19 symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention best practices.

With the community’s input, we will identify key leverage points where they can alter their practices at the personal, household, and community levels to affect change. This training will help to ensure participants have the knowledge they need about healthy practices and their importance to make the most of their water point as soon as water is flowing.

Our team of facilitators will use a variety of methods to train community members. Some of these methods include participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation, asset-based community development, group discussions, handouts, and demonstrations at the spring.

One of the most important issues 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 and the community strongly believe that all of these components will work together to improve living standards here, which will help to unlock the potential for these community members to live better, healthier lives.

We will then conduct a small series of follow-up trainings before transitioning to our regularly scheduled support visits throughout the year.

Training will result in the formation of a water user committee, elected by their peers, that will oversee the operations and maintenance of the spring. The committee 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 unwanted waste, and the drainage will keep the area’s mosquito population at a minimum.

Sanitation Platforms

At the end of the training, participants will select 5 families that should benefit from new concrete latrine floors called sanitation platforms. 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. Our trainers then instruct them on how to build superstructures over their new platforms. These 5 sanitation platforms will serve as examples for the rest of the community to replicate.

All community members must work together to make sure that they continuously provide accommodations and food for the work teams throughout all stages of spring and sanitation platform construction.

Project Updates

December, 2020: Maraba Community, Nambwaya Spring Project Complete!

Maraba Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Nambwaya Spring into a flowing source of water thanks to your donation. Our team protected the spring, constructed five sanitation platforms for different households in the community, and trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices, including COVID-19 prevention.

Protected Nambwaya Spring

"Access to reliable and safe water from this spring will help build a good relationship among the community members. I will be able to take safe water, which will help my family and me live healthy lives. And, we will save the cash we have been spending on medical care for something else that is productive," said Thomas Anzetse, a small-scale farmer.

"This water point will help me utilize my time that I've been spending cleaning the water point to do something else since cleaning will now be easier than how it has been. I will be able to carry out income-generating activities, thus improving my standard of living".

A woman fills up her jerrycan from one of the two discharge pipes

Eddah Omulama, a dressmaker in the community, expressed how grateful she was for the protected spring because there was now something to differentiate herself as a water user from the other animals that used the spring in the past. She said that as a community, they have been competing for water with the frogs and cows since the spring was open, so it was hard to restrict the other animals from using it. This was a very touching moment to hear her perspective and story.

Children were just as excited as the adults about the new water point.

"Access to reliable, safe water will help me spend little time at the spring, which will enable me to have some time to play with my friends. Now that this water point is complete, I plan to achieve my dream of being a doctor. This is because I will no longer be sick due to dirty water, and also when I resume school in January, I'll be able to concentrate on my studies," said teenager Bevalin.

Bevalin celebrates the protected spring

Preparing for Spring Protection

Community members worked together to source and carry 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.

Community members carry bricks to the spring construction site.

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. Individual households provided meals throughout each day to sustain the work team.

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. These help to divert environmental contaminants carried by the rains away from the spring.

Digging a deep drainage channel.

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.

Laying the spring's foundation

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 stairs.

Bricklaying begins

Next, we began one of the most crucial steps of spring protection to ensure a fully functional water point: setting the discharge pipe, or in this case, two due to the spring's naturally high yield. The discharge pipes have to be low enough in the headwall so that the water level inside never rises above the spring’s eye, yet high enough to leave eighteen to twenty inches between the pipes and the spring floor to allow room for the average jerrycan (a 20-liter container) to sit beneath the pipes without making contact.

Setting the discharge pipes

If the discharge pipes 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 access the water easily. We embedded the pipes 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.

Plastering the stone pitching to form the rub walls.

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.


With brickwork and stone pitching completed, we turned to cementing and plastering both sides of the headwall and wing walls. These finishing layers reinforce the brickwork and prevent water in the reservoir from seeping through the walls. In turn, enough pressure builds in the reservoir box to push water out through the discharge pipe.

Cementing the stairs

As the headwall and wing walls were curing, we cemented and plastered the stairs and installed four tiles beneath the discharge pipe. The tiles protect the concrete from the falling water's erosive force while also beautifying the spring and facilitating easy cleaning of the spring floor.

Affixing the tiles to the spring floor

We transitioned to the final stages of construction with the tiles in place - 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 pipes only.

Backfilling with clay

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 contamination sources 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 large stones

Community members transplanted grass onto the backfilled soil to help prevent erosion. Finally, the collection area was fenced 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.

Fencing and planting grass

The entire construction process took about two 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 fetch water.

Fetching water

We officially handed over the spring directly following training to mark the community's ownership of the water point. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day, flowing in all directions. A small celebration saw community members singing songs of appreciation and thanks while dancing.

Sanitation Platforms

We completed all five sanitation platforms and handed them over to their new owners. These five 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 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.

An artisan puts the finishing touches on a sanitation platform

Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19 and More

Due to the ongoing challenges and restrictions amidst the pandemic, we worked with both local leaders and the national Ministry of Health to gain approval for a small group training about health, hygiene, and COVID-19 prevention.

A girl raises her hand at training

Together with the community, we found their preferred date for training while considering other community calendar events such as the agricultural season and social events. We requested a select yet representative group of community members to attend training, relaying the information learned to the rest of their family and friends. When the day arrived, Team Leader Emmah Nambuye deployed to the site with a team of facilitators to lead the event.

Trainer Elvin demonstrates the ten steps of handwashing.

30 people attended training, including representatives from local leadership and the area's Community Health Volunteer. Since there was not enough space at the spring to accommodate all the training attendees while observing physical distancing, we chose to use a home nearby the spring as the training venue.

Handwashing session

Perhaps the most important topic of the day was our session on COVID-19 prevention. There has been considerable tension and panic about the novel coronavirus throughout Kenya, so this was a session everyone eagerly participated in, the trainers noted.

Homemade cloth mask-making tutorial

We covered crucial COVID-19 prevention topics including:

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

- What physical distancing is and how to practice it;

- How to cough and sneeze into the elbow;

- Contactless greetings; and

- How to make and properly wear a facemask.

Team Leader Emmah helps a girl put on her new mask made at training.

Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the disease and provide extra information where needed. We also left behind a rice sack painted with messages of COVID-19 prevention reminders in the local language. We affixed the sign to the spring's fence during training and encouraged community members to use it as a daily reminder to stay cautious both at home and at the spring.

A community member and the Chair of the water user committee expresses his thanks to all who were involved in the protection of Nambwaya Spring, including his fellow community members.

"I am so impressed with the teachings I have received today. Being a dressmaker, I now have more knowledge about mask-making, which will enable me to make several masks in a day since using a tailoring machine is faster [than by hand]. Face masks being a way of controlling the spread and infection of COVID-19, this will give me a ready market, hence improving my living standards together with my family," said Eddah Omulama.

Eddah Omulama

Eddah noted that another key new prevention measure they learned during the training was to wipe down with soap and water commonly touched surfaces frequently. She said she would try to integrate this new practice into her home and encourage her neighbors to do the same.

The most memorable topic was, indeed, the session on COVID-19. At the introduction of the topic, a young girl named Michelle stood and explained when the pandemic hit the world and arrived in Kenya in March. She even explained the modes of the virus' transmission and ways to avoid being infected. Michelle's speech impressed our team and gave us hope that with such a strong understanding of the pandemic, even among the young ones, this community would continue to be vigilant of their health and safety during this time.

Trainer Elvin leads the dental hygiene session.

We covered several other 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 ten steps of handwashing, and how to make and use a tippy tap and leaky tin. We held an election for the newly formed water user committee leaders during the leadership and governance session.

Mask-making session

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 and a cooperative lending group to enable members to develop their own small businesses.

"I've learned much today. For instance, I've been taking some things lightly about my own personal hygiene, such as not changing clothes after taking a bath - no wonder I've had continued skin irritation. I've also learned to keep the water clean and safe for drinking, right from the water point to the storage point. Finally, I learned that such a project brings about a good relationship among the community members. Before, we had issues among us when it came to cleaning the water point, but this time around, most of us came up to support the project with all we could until it was done," said Lucy Makokha, a small-scale farmer.

Getting a drink from the 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 field officers' team to assist them. We will also continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

November, 2020: Maraba Community, Nambwaya Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Nambwaya Spring is making people in Maraba 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!

A Year Later: "Getting Water is Now Simple!"

January, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Maraba 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!

Christine Anai is a mother. She used to feel the burden and time crunch that came with providing sufficient clean, safe water for her family. She shared, "Getting water before was very difficult. You could get water, but [it was] not clean. To make it clean, I had to boil [it] or add chlorine, and that costs money to buy."

But now that she has enjoyed collecting clean water from the protected Nambwaya Spring over the past year she has found her time has been restored and the burden lifted. "[Before] I had to wake up sometimes to boil water for my children to carry to school, but now I only wake up to prepare breakfast for my family; hence I save a lot of time. I can now do a lot of activities before noon. Also, I save a lot of time [not] searching for firewood for boiling water."

She also remarked how simple it is for her now to access clean water. "Clean water is no longer a problem. I live very close to the spring [and] whenever I feel thirsty, it's now simple. I get a cup and walk to the spring and drink water directly."

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 Maraba 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 Maraba 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.