Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 140 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/04/2024

Project Features

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"When I was diagnosed with typhoid I got scared of using the water, so whenever I have some money I have to buy drinking water which is very expensive for me, "said expecting mother Jamila Mwibanda.

Jamila is 1 of 140 people in Musango who depend on Wabuti Spring for all of their daily water needs. And yet, the spring does not provide clean or safe water. Because accessing enough water is crucial to daily life for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and handwashing, Wabuti Spring is holding people back from reaching their full potential in sanitation, hygiene, and all aspects of their lives.

Jamila walked us through her daily routine as an example of the spring's impact.

At 7:00 am Jamila wakes up, then goes to fetch her first jerrycan of water for the day. Once she returns home, she uses the water to prepare breakfast and to clean the dirty utensils from last night's dinner and the day's breakfast. Jamila again goes for water, making 2 trips this time to have enough water for washing and bathing. At midday, Jamila fetches water for preparing lunch. Around 2:00 pm,  she goes for water for the cows and for cooking dinner. Her day ends at 9:00 pm, and the cycle continues in the morning.

On a normal day, Jamila goes to the spring approximately 7 times, but she can make as many as 10 trips depending on her water needs for the day. Though she tries to buy water when she can, Jamila still has to use the spring water when there is not enough money to do so. Most community members cannot afford to buy water. And while we cannot change the number of times someone must go to the spring for water, we can change how long they spend while they're there and the quality of water they collect.

"The water becomes dirty immediately with 1 scoop, so I have to wait; it's so tiring and I wait and take a lot of time," said teenager Chrisantus.

In its current state, the spring is open to contamination from dirty surface runoff which carries farm chemicals and animal waste, among other contaminants. People frequently catch dogs drinking directly from the spring, and there is a constant layer of algae that people have to clear to fetch water.

The process of fetching is long, tiring, and frustrating. Because the small pool of water that forms from the spring is shallow, community members cannot submerge their containers to fill them. Instead, they must use a small jug or bowl to scoop water first from the pool, then pour it into their larger jerrycans.

There is supposed to be a communal jug that stays at the spring since everyone has to fetch water the same way, but sometimes it gets misplaced. This wastes even more time as people have to return home to find another container to use at the spring. People then start accusing their neighbors of who took the jug, causing discord in the community. There are also conflicts at the spring due to fetching water that got stirred up with mud by others. Because of this, some people do not want to wait and they jump the queue, causing even more tension among all present.

Community members report a myriad of water-related illnesses after consuming water from Wabuti Spring including typhoid, sore throat, and amoeba. These illnesses cause families to spend their resources seeking medical treatment, and they steal time from kids' learning at school and adults' time spent working and earning income.

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: Wabuti Spring Project Complete!

Musango Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Wabuti 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.

Trainer Protus marks the official handing over of the spring to community members.

So many people before had promised to help protect their spring, the community recounted, but each had failed to turn up and fulfill their promises. The community had been seeking safe water for so long that it gave them a reason to meet and to socialize, but only to discuss how to solve their water challenges at the spring. Now, they said, after the protection of this spring, they are hoping to be meeting and discussing the other affairs affecting them as people of the Musango community.

Women and children pose at the newly protected spring.

"My life will change since I have been going to fetch water from afar and forced to boil it before drinking," said Jamilla Omwivanda, a farmer and mother in the community.

"I will be saving time and having enough water for the house use, and also my cow will be drinking enough water. I will be able to do brick-making activities which I have always been planning to do, but since it requires a lot of water, it has not been easy. I will now be able to actualize the dream while also irrigating my vegetables during the dry season for commercial use," she said.

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

"I will be able to keep time when going to fetch water, unlike as I used to find the water dirty and had to wait for it to be clean before fetching it," said teenager Lapex.

"I have been planning to tend a small seedbed for sukuma wiki (greens). Especially after school in the evening, I will be able to fetch water and irrigate it," she shared.

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.

Laying the spring's foundation.

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.

Brickwork 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.

Laying reinforcement wire inside the headwall brickwork.

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.

Preparing the headwall for pipe setting.

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.

Wall work continues as the discharge pipe is set in the background.

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.

Stone pitching

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.

Plastering the spring

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.

A community member delivers a large rock for backfilling.

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.

Layering smaller stones on top of the large ones to fill in the gaps.

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.

A girl delivers a post for the spring's fencing.

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.

Building the fence

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.

Planting grass

We officially handed over the spring directly following training to mark the community's ownership of the water point. The community members were very excited to have clean and safe water finally. They sang and danced at the water point to share their appreciation. Also in attendance were members of our staff and some of the area's local leaders. Women, in particular, were very excited as they tried ascending the stairs at the spring for the first time, as the access point used to be so difficult to maneuver in and out of.

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.

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

Trainer Joyce hands out COVID-19 prevention pamphlets.

15 people attended the training, including community-based leaders and members from the local self-help group. We held the training at the spring landowner's home as it was convenient to the community and our need for water during training. There was plenty of tree shade and space for participants to spread out, and short grass enabled easy seating.

Handwashing demonstration

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.

Homemade mask tutorial

"This training has made me know how serious the virus is, and I have also learned how to ensure my family and I remain safe during this pandemic. I will emphasize to my family to comply with the things I have learned here to stay safe from the disease," said Edward Omutere, a farmer in the community.

The trainers gave the masks made at training to the most active participants.

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.

Rosemary Alima demonstrates toothbrushing.

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.

One of the most memorable topics was primary health care during our discussion on switching out stored drinking water every three days. Some community members said they keep their drinking water in their earthen pots until they see the "small animals" in the water come out before declaring the pot dirty. The trainers were keen to advise on more frequent pot cleaning and exchange their water sooner, emphasizing that even clean water from the spring kept for too long can develop when kept in dirty pots.

A community member gives a vote of thanks during the training.

"This training has made me learn so many new things. I have learned how to handle water, brush my teeth, and prevent myself from the COVID-19 virus. I will apply the same knowledge by training my children to follow the right way of doing things. Hence, they keep themselves from harm," said Rosemary Alima, the elected Chair of the water user committee.

Rosemary collecting 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. 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: Wabuti Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Wabuti Spring is making people in Musango, 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: Income Generating Projects Have Increased!

February, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Musango 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!

Farmer Jamila Mwivamda, 40, shared, "I used to go and fetch water [from] very far [away]. [For] drinking water, I used to hire someone to go and fetch it for me."

She continued, "I am now able to fetch water very easily. I do not need to pay for water anymore. I now drink water whose source [I] am aware of, unlike when I used to send someone [and] maybe he used to fetch from [a] dirty source."

Now that Jamila has access to as much water as she needs, she has increased her income-making ability. "I make bricks using the water from this source, which I sell and get money to pay school fees and use for my domestic needs. [I] am able to plant vegetables, be it during [the] dry season or rainy season, because I have water for irrigation."

Children at the protected spring.

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 Musango 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 Musango 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.


Project Underwriter - Marcia and Philip Rothblum Foundation
1 individual donor(s)