Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 224 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jul 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/09/2024

Project Features

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Life in Harambee, Kenya

Upon arrival in Harambee, green vegetation and lovely flowers are what first strike you and make the whole place look pleasant. A gradual slope helps to drain all excess water during the seasonally heavy rains in this area, thus making this community particularly habitable for people without fear of flooding. From home compounds to the general environment, the area is covered by green grass, forming a natural carpet as one walks place to place.

Most locals have ventured into cash crop farming for their livelihoods, especially sugarcane, even though it takes around 2-3 years to bring a good return. Some people also sell farm produce along the roads to earn a few coins, often including ripe bananas, sweet potatoes, and avocados.

Geographically, the area has 2 features that make it different from other areas. First, the upper part of the land on one side is made up of gravel soil while on the other side, it is very loamy and fertile soil for farming. People are very welcoming here and love to see their area being transformed through new projects, especially those related to clean water.

Relying on Contaminated Water

Elijah Kwalanda Spring serves 224 people, most of whom make anywhere from 5-15 trips to the spring and back every day to fetch enough water for all of their drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs. On laundry days, that number increases. Each walk takes from 15 minutes to 1 hour, depending on where community members live in relation to the spring.

"I carry a lot of water in a single day, which at the end makes me feel so tired and exhausted. On average, I make up to 15 trips per day holding a 20- and 10-liter container. The water helps to do general cleaning and for animals to drink and for cooking," said Nillah Imbusi, a farmer in Harambee.

Before doing anything else, each morning community members always make sure that there is enough water within their homestead. This means going to the spring as early as 6:00 am with containers and jugs in hand, leaving other chores to be done at a later hour or date.

Fetching water has never been easy for people here. Were it possible for community members to access safe water within a very short time, more tasks could be been done by converting the time used to fetch the water into a more meaningful activity. Alas, all this time spent and the water is not even safe for consumption.

Water from Elijah Kwalanda Spring is contaminated with leaves and surface runoff, which carries farm chemicals, animal waste, and human waste. Because it is open, large animals come to drink from the spring directly and smaller ones can live in it. Though the water looks clear, the presence of rotten matter and also dead aquatic animals like frogs visibly prove that this water is not safe for humans.

To fetch water from the spring, community members submerge their containers as deep as they can into the water, then scoop water with a smaller jug to pour into their larger container to top it off. The containers themselves also contaminate the water, bringing in any soil or bacteria on their surface directly into contact with the water.

The illnesses most frequently reported after consuming water from this unprotected spring include stomachaches, diarrhea, and general body weakness.

"Our water looks clear but when I drink it - especially during the rainy season - I sometimes feel my stomach roaring," said a child named Stacy whom we met on our visit.

This spring has greatly affected this community both financially and productivity-wise. When people fall sick from drinking the water, they are unable to go to work, farm, or take care of themselves or others. Water-related diseases require money and time for treatment, which could both have been used to advance other important tasks.

In addition to a need for clean and safe water, more information and training on better hygiene and sanitation practices are needed here. It will be important to improve hygiene practices like handwashing and the use of latrines. Our assessment showed that some community members still share latrines with other families, especially in homes with newly married couples who still use their parents' facilities as they settle down in life.

What We Can Do:

Spring Protection

Protecting the spring will help provide access to cleaner and safer water. 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.


We will hold a 1-day intensive training on improved hygiene, health, and sanitation habits in this community. 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 Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST), Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), group discussions, handouts, and demonstrations at the spring to cover a wide variety of topics.

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 will also emphasize the importance of handwashing. 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 series of follow-up trainings before transitioning to our regularly scheduled support visits throughout the year.

Training will result in the formation of a 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 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.

All community members must work together to make sure that accommodations and food are always provided for the work teams. The families will then be asked to complete their latrines by constructing a superstructure over their platforms. These 5 sanitation platforms will then serve as examples for the rest of the community to replicate.

Project Updates

July, 2020: Harambee Community, Elijah Kwalanda Spring Project Complete!

Please note, all photos in this report were taken before social distancing recommendations went into effect.

Harambee Community now has access to clean water! Elijah Kwalanda Spring has been transformed into a flowing source of water thanks to your donation. We protected the spring, constructed 5 sanitation platforms for different households in the community, and we trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices in addition to COVID-19 prevention.

Women at the spring

"Good health will always be my portion, as I will be consuming safe, clean water from the protected spring which now looks so nice and well-constructed. I will be able to improve my living standards by using the finances meant for medication to acquire essential goods and items for my family like food, and even paying fees for my kids at school so they can learn and succeed in life," said Knight Mutoro, who was elected Secretary of the new Water User Committee.

Knight Mutoro, pictured at training holding her manual after being elected Secretary of the new Water User Committee

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

"The then-unprotected source was a threat to my health and life at large. After protection, I can now with a lot of confidence say that I will be able to live long because of the availability of safe water from the spring," said teenager Venezer.


"Since I will be accessing safe clean drinking water, I will always go to school and spend much time learning without being sick, therefore, improving on my academic performance by scoring high grades."

Venezer enjoying the completed 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. While the field officers traveled to and from the site each day throughout the construction process, the artisan remained in the community. To accommodate him, individual households provided meals and a place to sleep each night.

The last step before construction commenced was taking a water sample from the unprotected spring. We sent the sample to a government laboratory for testing to identify the kinds of contaminants in the water before its protection. These often include fertilizers and pesticides from farms, animal and human feces, and any number of harmful bacteria. We then shared the test results with the community to identify extra steps they could take to help ensure the spring’s water remains clean and safe after protection.

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 the environmental contaminants identified in the pre-construction water quality test.

Site clearance and excavation begin

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 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 the stairs.

Laying the first bricks on the concrete foundation

Next, we began one of the most crucial steps of spring protection to ensure a fully functional water point: setting the discharge pipe. The discharge pipe has to be set low enough in place in the headwall so that the water level inside never rises above the spring’s eye, yet high enough to leave 18-20 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.

Wall construction

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 easily access the water. 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.

Setting the pipe

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 cement and plaster both sides of the headwall and wing walls. This reinforces the brickwork and prevents water in the reservoir from seeping through the walls. In turn, this builds enough pressure in the reservoir box to push water out through the discharge pipe.

Artisan plasters interior headwall

As the headwall and wing walls were curing, we cemented and plastered the stairs and installed 4 tiles beneath the discharge pipes. The tiles protect the concrete from the erosive force of the falling water, beautify the spring, and facilitate easy cleaning of the spring floor.

Setting the tiles

With the tiles in place, we transitioned to the final stages of construction - 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.

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 sources of contamination 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 stones

Community members transplanted grass onto the backfilled soil to help prevent erosion. Finally, the collection area was fenced in 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 2 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 begin fetching water.

We met them there to celebrate this momentous occasion. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day flowing in all directions.

The community members were happy to begin accessing safe and clean water. According to Mr. Keri Tsimonjere, who was elected Chair of the new Water User Committee, since 1955 when the spring was discovered, efforts after efforts had been fronted by predecessors of the village but all in vain as nobody had been able to even attempt to construct the spring.

Mr. Keri Tsimonjere takes a cold drink of spring water

The closest they got was only availing the large stones for backfilling, which were delivered near to the spring in 1992 but no other materials were provided to facilitate the process of construction.

Furthermore, Mr. Tsimonjere exclaimed that he has never seen such a well-constructed spring as this in the entire location.

Sanitation Platforms

All 5 sanitation platforms have been completed and handed over to their new owners. These 5 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.

Mr. Tsimonjere stands proudly with his new sanitation platform

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.

New Knowledge

Community member Timothy Kwalanda helped organize the training in coordination with our team. Together we found the community’s preferred date for training while considering other events in the community calendar such as the agricultural season and expected gatherings. When the day arrived, Facilitators
Victor Musemi and Wilson Kipchoge deployed to the site.

14 people attended training, which was held at Timothy Kwalanda's homestead. Being a cool afternoon, participants chose to have training while seated on the bare ground covered with very green grass and surrounded by flowers. The whole area looked beautiful and was conducive for training.

All eyes on Trainer Wilson Kipchoge; a leaky tin handwashing station in the foreground

The attendance was not as we had expected because one of the community members whom we had asked to attend the training, the area village elder, passed on that very morning leaving the members in a shock given that she had been approached by one of the community members the previous evening. But with this occurrence, we were able to proceed with the training as was planned changing only the time to the afternoon to allow community members to mourn their departed one in the morning.

COVID-19 Sensitization and Prevention

At the time of training, the COVID-19 pandemic was just beginning to spread around the world, though there were no cases in this area of Kenya. There was not yet any personal protective gear available locally either, and social distancing was a new idea that challenges cultural norms.

Social distancing check

Upon introduction of the Coronavirus topic, participants shared their views concerning the disease, some saying that they just hear the name "Corona" but they are not sure what it is all about. There and then, the facilitator explained to them in detail the nature of COVID-19 being a respiratory disease caused by a virus, and ways by which the disease is spread and how it can be prevented.

Wilson shows how to construct a leaky tin

Sharing some of the ways through which the disease is spread, most of the participants remembered handshakes as a risky move because they had seen top leaders do so to cool political temperatures and it was resounding everywhere in the country. From what the media had been sensitizing the people on, they said washing hands with soap and running water as well as keeping distance apart of at least 1 meter were good ways to help keep the virus at bay.

Handwashing demonstration

One of the participants, a 69-year-old woman, wanted to know why the disease is affecting nearly the whole world. To satisfy her question, she was told that as people travel from one place or country to another, especially countries and places already reporting cases of COVID-19, they spread the disease to those who they come into contact with.

Handwashing practical

Participants requested to be given the facts on how to deal with the disease and completely reduce its spread even in rural areas. The facilitator informed them that they should always adhere to the set guidelines given by the government of Kenya which include:

- Regular handwashing with soap and running water

- Keeping a distance of at least 1 meter in all social gatherings

- Avoiding hugs and kisses

- Wearing face masks where possible and especially when traveling;

- Wearing gloves

- Covering the mouth and nose with a disposable material like a tissue paper while coughing and sneezing

- Seeking medical attention from nearby health facilities when they experience symptoms like a high fever, flu-like symptoms, dry cough, or general body aches.

Handwashing demonstration

Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we also dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the disease and provide extra information where needed. We initially left a paper sign with written prevention reminders at the spring, and then returned shortly after to install a new version with the same message painted on a sugar sack. This was installed at the spring to serve as a reminder for all who come to fetch water.

Installing the sack version of the prevention reminders chart at the spring

At the end of the topic, participants felt the need to observe the guidelines given as a way of caring for each individual's life and those close to them, keeping in mind that doing all of this is not for self-gratification but for the well being of all.

Since this training, we have developed trainings exclusively on COVID-19 prevention and awareness - see for yourself what we've been up to as we continue to fight COVID-19 on the frontlines in all of the communities we serve.

During training, we installed a new handwashing station with soap near the community’s water point, along with a sign with reminders of what we covered.

Health, Hygiene, Sanitation, and Spring User Training

We covered several 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 10 steps of handwashing, and how to make and use a tippy tap and leaky tin. During the leadership and governance session, we held an election for the leaders of the newly formed water user committee.

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, as well as a cooperative lending group to enable members to develop their own small businesses.

Wilson counts as participants raise hands to cast votes for the leaders of their new Water User Committee

Leadership and governance was a particularly lively topic. Participants shared their different views on who should be chosen to lead the group to take care of the spring, while others were asking whether this will help them form a team which will enable them to access information and resources in terms of health and hygiene. As a way of accommodating all of the views, participants were allowed to freely propose names of persons to be given the opportunity to guide them as their leaders. Voting by raising of hands was the best method used to pick officials with a rule that the majority of hands raised chose the winner.

Chair Mr. Keri Tsimonjere

"The training has been so beneficial to me. The new knowledge will help me to reach out to my grandchildren, and the elderly like myself, with the message of preventing diseases by washing hands with soap and running water," said Keri Tsimonjere, who was elected Chair of the new Water User Committee.

Training participants pose for a group photo while observing social distancing and showing their training manuals

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 team of field officers to assist them. In addition, 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!

June, 2020: Harambee Community, Elijah Kwalanda Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Elijah Kwalanda Spring is making people in Harambee 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 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!

Giving Update: Elijah Kwalanda Spring

June, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Harambee 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!

"Before this project was completed, it was hard to get water. The area around the spring was so slippery and surrounded by bush that I feared going to the spring early in the morning and late in the evening," said Elvin.

"To get water from this water point is simpler because our spring has a pipe, and it takes less time to fill a jerrican. The adults never harass us, and this has brought light and peace in this community."

"Availability of water has helped my parents to start an income-generating activity which is making bricks and selling to other community members. This project has removed us from poverty, and we are really enjoying the new life."

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 Harambee 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 Harambee 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.


15 individual donor(s)