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

Click icons to learn about each feature.

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

The Bukalama area is rocky, and as you proceed toward Wanzetse Spring the land becomes steep. The predominance of farmland and vegetation in this village adds to its greenness and the cool environment.

Although there are 280 people who depend on Wanzetse Spring for all of their daily water needs, the spring water is not safe for consumption. At one time it was partially protected, but the work was not done to standard and it has since eroded. All that remains is a small outcropping of cement and the metal discharge pipe that was once part of the headwall.

Community members have improvised a banana leaf to act as a pipe to connect the standing cement to the spring's source - otherwise, there is a gap several feet long. But the banana leaf is directing water that is open to the surface, and mud and sand inevitably get mixed into the water. Sometimes children tamper with the banana leaf too, disrupting others' ability to draw water until a new leaf can be fitted to the pipe.

Whatever the scenario, drawing water from the spring is difficult and time-consuming. The makeshift discharge pipe system does not catch all of the water the spring produces, slowing the spring's yield time. All of this leads to crowds at the spring, which are especially concerning during the pandemic when community members are trying to avoid groups and limit their time spent in public.

Community members report that both adults and children often become sick after drinking the spring water.

"The water is contaminated. Most of us have been affected by stomachache because of drinking unclean water," said 33-year-old Davis Inzofu, who works as a graphic designer in the area. He added that cases of typhoid persist in the area among families who depend on this spring.

The access point is another area of concern. "The way towards the spring gets slippery when it rains, and it is hard for you to draw water," reported teenager Juliet. There are no stairs leading to the spring, but instead a slick mud path riddled with stones.

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: Wanzetse Spring Project Complete!

Bukalama Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Wanzetse 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.

Community members and Field Officer Julius Mwarema celebrate the completion of Wanzetse Spring

"This water point will bring about unity and good relationships among the community members because they have seen how unity has helped them get such a good project. The spring water will help me avoid contracting waterborne diseases such as typhoid, which, at one point, had been on the rise," said Davis Inzofu, a small business owner in the community.

A child takes a drink from the spring after washing his hands.

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

"I will not suffer from typhoid and other diseases caused by dirty water. I will be healthy, and this will help me stay in school and work hard to achieve my dream of being a doctor in the future," said teenager Juliet.

A woman smiles while fetching water from the newly 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.

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.


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.

Artisan measures the headwall bricks

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.


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 walls

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.

Plastered stone pitching

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 spring 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.

Community members deliver large rocks for backfilling.

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.

Adding small stones over large rocks

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.

Fencing in the catchment 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 inside the fence

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.

Digging a cut-off drainage channel above the spring to divert storm runoff.

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.

Water flows from the completed spring.

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 number of community members gathered to represent the rest as they sang joyful songs and appreciated the donors for their generosity in bringing clean water to their village.

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.

Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19 and More

Due to the ongoing challenges and restrictions amidst the pandemic, we worked with 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, the lead field officer for the project, Jacquey Kangu, deployed to the site and a team of trainers to lead the event.


21 people attended training, including the local Village Health Volunteer. We held the event at a community member's home near the spring, where there was enough room for everyone to observe physical distancing throughout the day.

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.

A community member reads the COVID-19 prevention reminders chart to the group at training.

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 Elvine leads the handwashing demonstration.

"The training has helped me adhere to the government guidelines on COVID-19 prevention and visit the hospital if I feel unwell. This will help me avoid contracting COVID-19 and any other diseases," said Rhehema Wanga, a small-scale farmer.

Rhehema Wanga

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.

Homemade mask tutorial

We also brainstormed income-generating activities that can be used to start both 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.

The most memorable topic from training was on water pollution and purification. During this discussion, one community member joked that the women would be so happy and excited about the spring's clean water that they would now be sleeping at the drawing point so that the water could flow down on them continually - an image that made everyone laugh.

Snaider demonstrates toothbrushing.

Another special moment came during the personal hygiene session. One woman said she has not been washing her beddings or those of her children because of the strain in getting water. But, this time around, she said she will be washing the beddings regularly since it is now easier to access clean and safe water.

Sophia Awinja

"The training has reminded me about personal hygiene, something that I keep on assuming but has really made me spend my money on medication. I will now be keen about my personal hygiene and that of my children, which will help me save money and spend it on something productive," said Sophia Awinja, a small-scale farmer from the community.

Washing hands 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: Bukalama Community, Wanzetse Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Wanzetse Spring is making people in Bukalama 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 Waterborne Disease!

January, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

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

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

Wanzetse Spring in Bukalama Community was not a safe water source for 16-year-old Juliet or others in her community. She said, "The water was dirty, and it consumed a lot of time to fetch water."

But since the spring was protected last year and is now providing safe, reliable water, things have changed for those living in her community. "There [are] no more [water-related] diseases since the water is now clean. More people have now started to come and fetch the water because it's protected."

For Juliet, having consistent access to clean water has helped her refocus on important things. "Now that we have clean water, it helps me be healthy and focus on my studies." Now that she can concentrate on school, hopefully, her future will be bright.


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 Bukalama Community maintain access to safe, reliable water.

We’d love for you to join this world-changing group committed to sustainability.

The most impactful way to continue your support of Bukalama Community – and hundreds of other places just like this – is by joining our community of monthly givers.

Your monthly giving will help provide clean water, every month... keeping The Water Promise.


The Commonwealth Club of the Riviera
Numined Diamonds
The Annette Friedewald Charitable Fund
North Dunedin Baptist Church
Kylie's Campaign for Water
6 individual donor(s)