Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 350 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/07/2024

Project Features

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"The discharge pipe is very low, making the process of drawing water to be difficult. The spring box is open, frogs keep on jumping inside, and you can easily draw water with frogs in it," explained teenager Belinda as she described what it is like to fetch water from Olingo Spring.

Belinda lives in Shianda Township and goes to school at St. Peter's Khabakaya Secondary. If we can help protect Olingo Spring, she will be able to access clean water both at home and at school.

Though 350 people in Shianda Township depend on Olingo Spring for all of their daily water needs, they are not able to fetch clean and safe water from the spring. As Belinda noted, the community tried to install a discharge pipe directly into the earth, but it had to be placed very low to the ground to catch any water at all.

Community members' jerrycans and buckets cannot stand upright beneath the pipe, so they are forced to use smaller jugs and bowls to collect water that they can then pour into their larger containers. Often, the small pool of water below the pipe mixes with the water coming out of the pipe.

The process is long, tiresome, and frustrating.

"Sometimes you can get a long queue drawing water, making you wait for long before drawing water. The water is open and it can be easily contaminated," said Nathan Olingo, a farmer and the spring's landowner.

The area around the spring is slippery and muddy, making it difficult to find even footing while fetching water. People's feet often, though accidentally, stir up the mud in the water they are trying to fetch. So does the discharge pipe if someone's bucket nudges it. The spring is predominantly contaminated by surface runoff, which carries farm chemicals, animal waste, and human waste due to the lack of latrines and consequent open defecation in this area.

The dirty water from Olingo Spring is holding back everyone who drinks its water from reaching their full potential. The many contaminants in the water mean that people often contract water-related illnesses and have to spend their resources on medical treatment. Kids miss school and adults miss productive work time when they are forced to stay home while sick.

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

February, 2021: Olingo Spring Project Complete!

Shianda Township Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Olingo 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.

Women fetch water from the completed spring.

"There will be less expenditure on health as now children will be less likely to fall ill because we shall now be taking clean and safe water for drinking," said water user committee Chair Nathan Olingo.

"More time will be saved, and now I will direct my time in doing constructive things at home. I am a farmer, so I will direct the wastewater from the spring to my farm and use it in irrigation. This will increase my farm produce," Nathan said.

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

"Fetching water has now become easier and faster. I will save more time and use it in my studies. Since I will have more time for my studies, I will work hard in school to help my family come out of poverty," said teenager Phanice.

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 of all ages helped bring construction materials to the spring site however they could.

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 diversion 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 the construction work.

Bricksetting begins on top of the 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.

Setting the pipe

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.

Pitching stones for the rub wall

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 stone pitching into place

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 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.

Reinforcing the headwall with clay

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 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.

Building a fence around the backfilled area

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.

Planting grass on top of the catchment area

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.

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.

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.

Field Officer Adelaide, on right, marks the official handing-over of the spring to the community.

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 encouraging 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.

Artisan works 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.

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 and a team of facilitators deployed to the site to lead the event.

The active participants made training lively and fun, said trainers.

21 people attended training, among them community-based leaders, self-help group members, and the area's Village Health Volunteer. We held the training in Nathan Olingo's homestead due to its good shade from trees, well-grown grass, and accessibility to the spring.

Perhaps the most important topic of the day was our session on COVID-19 prevention and control. 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 virus 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.

Trainer David demonstrates the ten steps of handwashing.

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.

A trainer leads the homemade mask-making tutorial.

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.

"Training was precious to me, especially the handwashing part. I didn't know that one is supposed to wash up to the elbow. I have also learned a lot about cleanliness, and I will observe all the guidelines given to us on that," said Hamida Osimbo, a small-scale farmer whose peers elected her as Secretary of their new water user committee.

Phanice demonstrates handwashing to the group at training.

"The training was precious to me," agreed young farmer Hassan Arun.

"Today, I learned that I am not supposed to gargle after brushing my teeth; I should leave the toothpaste to work in my mouth. This knowledge will help me heal the toothaches that I normally have. I will also live a healthy life by observing cleanliness," he said.

Hassan demonstrates toothbrushing at training.

At the community training conclusion, we were joined by a group of final-year students studying community development at Kisii University. Due to the long journey, they arrived when we had just finished the training, though they had hoped to be there for the entire event. Nevertheless, Team Leader Emmah and the Community Engagement Officer walked the students through the entire spring protection process, from identifying the spring's eye through the protection process, training, and handing over.

Emmah (low center) shows the parts of the spring to the university students.

The day was so fulfilling, the students said, as they had never seen a protected spring before. The students had a lot of questions and drove a wonderful discussion with our team. At the close of the day, we wished them well as they neared their graduation.

An open discussion with the Kisii University students.

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. Also, 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!

January, 2021: Olingo Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Olingo Spring is making people in Shianda Township, Kenya 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: Less Sickness and Improved Grades!

February, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Shianda Community 3.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shianda Community 3 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!

Constantine, 18, shared what life was like before the spring protection in her community last year. "Before the completion of this water point, getting water was hard and it consumed a lot of our time. One needed to wait for the water to be clean before fetching, especially when there was congestion at the water point."

"Now, getting water from this water point has become easier and faster," Constantine continued. "I no longer wait for [the] water to be clean before fetching."

"The time I used to waste at the water point, now I use to study. I have improved greatly in my grades at school. I have more time to study and do my research on time. I no longer fall sick because the water I drink at home is now clean and safe."

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 Shianda Community 3 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 Shianda Community 3 – 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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