Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 280 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2021

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.

Muluinga Spring is the main source of drinking water for 280 people in Emusaka, yet it cannot provide clean water. The spring is completely open and vulnerable to contamination. Each time it rains, dirty runoff sends extra soil into the water. Sometimes there is so much extra mud, the community members have to dig it out with a jembe (hoe) so their jugs can dip beneath the surface for fetching.

Community members report frequent cases of diarrhea after drinking this spring water, especially during the rainy season. And with the rains come increased difficulty in accessing the spring.

"Fetching water here especially after it has rained is not easy. The water changes color and becomes dirty. After it rains, also you have to come with a small container to fetch water since the larger one will aid in your quick falling. It makes one use a lot of time to get water," reported 36-year-old farmer Lilian Edogo.

The community installed some logs and stones to try to create a barrier for people to stand on while fetching water without having to stand directly in the pool of water. But the logs become particularly slippery in the frequent rains, and small children are always at risk of falling into the water. Adults will sometimes fall through them too, resulting in sprained ankles and other injuries. For the children, the access point to the spring also poses a threat to their lives.

"People falling in the water always makes it dirty, and when you take dirty water home, we are punished by my mother accusing me of playing while fetching water," said young primary school student Marthan.

The spring needs routine maintenance which includes clearing off the algae on the water's surface, which is time-consuming and a waste of productive energy.

To access the water from this spring , the community members balance on the logs while dipping small bowls, cups, or jugs into the water. They pour the water into the larger containers they brought, typically a few at a time. The process is long, leading to crowds waiting their turn to fetch water. This is especially concerning during the pandemic when community members are trying to avoid groups and limit their time spent in public.

Once the time required to clear the spring of debris and to let the water settle between users is added, fetching water can easily become an hours-long activity throughout the day. This impacts both adults' and children's schedules. Farm work, jobs, cooking, house chores, walking to school, and homework are consistently cut short due to the time lost at the spring, costing everyone in productivity.

If it happens to rain at night, in the morning the spring water will be extra muddied and brown from the effects of the dirty surface runoff. The community members must then allow the water to flow for some time after removing the logs and the stones that help to keep the pool intact. This process in particular is long, tiring, and frustrating. Conflicts among children and adults alike are common due to challenges faced at the spring.

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

January, 2021: Emusaka Community, Muluinga Spring Project Complete!

Emusaka Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Muluinga 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.

Celebrating the newly protected spring

Community members told us how they had been promised help in protecting their spring for so long by so many different people, but it had never come true. After many months of patience and hard work to prepare for and complete the project, they were so happy to see clean and safe water flowing from the spring. This was a dream come true to many, they said.

"I will not be wasting time at the spring when fetching water as I used to. Since it's easier to get water now, I will be spending quality time on the farm, which will improve my farm products,'" said Janet Eshimulinganga, a 32-year-old farmer.

"Since the water point is near my farm, I will use the water to irrigate my vegetables during the dry season and supply them to a school to earn a living, which has always been my dream."

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

"I will be able to go to football training after fetching water. Since it's easily accessible, I will be able to save time that I was using in clearing the water before fetching it," said young teenager Marthan.

"I will use the water to plant the trees and flowers in our compound; I have always wanted to have trees and flowers at home," Marthan added.

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.

Kids wheelbarrow sand to the spring 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.

Women carry bricks to the spring site

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.

Excavation for 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.


Brickwork underway

Next, we began one of the most crucial spring protection steps to ensure a fully functional water point: setting the discharge pipe. The discharge pipe has 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 pipe and the spring floor to allow room for the average jerrycan (a 20-liter container) to sit beneath the pipe without making contact.

Setting the discharge pipe

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 access the water easily. 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.

Plastering the headwall

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.

Plastering the stone pitching to form the rub walls

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.


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.

Backfilling with large stones

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 pipe only.

Fitting the tarp

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 dirt on top to create a slight mound to compensate for the backfill’s future settlement.

Fencing and planting grass

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.

Newly completed Muluinga Spring

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. Field Officer Protus Ekesa led the spring's official handing directly following training amidst ululations and celebrations. The event marked the community's ownership of the water point.

Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day flowing in all directions. The community celebrated at the water point by singing songs of praise for the work well done, and all of the stakeholders involved ensured the work reached completion. The area elder, Mr. Moses Omutere, also gave a speech of thanks. Afterward, families lined up to fetch water so they could take it home and put it to use.

Water celebrations

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 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.

Posing with their new 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.

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, facilitators Jacquey, Protus, and Elvine deployed to the site to lead the event.

Community members actively participated throughout the training.

Thirty-three people attended the training, including local leaders and the area's Community  Health Volunteer. We held the training at a community member's compound close to the spring and had good tree shade.

Perhaps the most crucial 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.

Trainer Elvine demonstrates the ten steps of handwashing.

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.

Trainer Jacquey leads the mask making tutorial.

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.

Fitting a mask made at training to a community member.

"The new knowledge has been an eye-opener to me," said 30-year-old farmer and mother Lilian Fibanda. "I am going to avoid getting COVID-19 together with my family. The fear I had of spending a lot of money to buy masks has been removed since I now know how to make a simple face mask."

Lillian noted her "community was washing hands with soap sometimes, keeping the physical distance at the chamas (self-help groups), and wearing masks while traveling to towns," but that the training would encourage even more precautions among community members.

"[We will be] washing hands with clean and running water and soap for at least twenty seconds, keeping physical distance in our meetings, making and wearing face masks, avoiding handshaking and hugging, and keeping our surfaces, like tables, clean."

Lilian Fibanda

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.

Fetching water at the spring

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.

"After acquiring this knowledge, I will change how I have been doing things like washing hands, using locally available materials as a detergent in disinfecting my latrine, and also to keep my environment clean," said 38-year-old farmer Duncan Odongo.

Fetching water at 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!

December, 2020: Emusaka Community, Muluinga Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Muluinga Spring is making people in Emusaka 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: Clean Water and Happy Ducks!

January, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Emusaka Community 2 maintain access to safe, reliable water. Together, they keep The Water Promise.

We’re confident you'll love joining this world-changing group committed to sustainability!

Before the water point was completed a year ago Marthan O. found collecting water to be a challenge. "It was difficult bending to fetch water," said 13-year-old Marthan. "Sometimes, you could fall into [the] water and have to wait 'til it was clean, which was time-consuming."

But now, "It's very easy to get water since there is no bending. I can go to the spring very early in the morning [and] at lunchtime, and the water is always clean. I was able to start a tree nursery. I use the water to irrigate my flowers [and] trees, and I used the water to build [a] swimming pool for my ducks."

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 Emusaka 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 Emusaka 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.


Project Underwriter - In Honor of LUTIFIYEH D. MIZYED and our late son AMIR N. ZIYAD
1 individual donor(s)