Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 210 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/03/2024

Project Features

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Life in Mukhonje, Kenya

The village Mukhonje is located in a fairly flat land with black cotton soil best for growing sugarcane. The sugarcane plantations and other crops grown here make the area green.

Residential houses in this community range from temporary to semi-permanent and permanent. The majority of buildings are semi-permanent made of mud walls and roofed with iron sheets. The communication network in the area is reliable and the land open enough to make transportation in the area easy.

The predominant livelihood for this community is farming. People here grow sugarcane as a cash crop and other crops like maize, beans, groundnuts, cassava, and sweet potatoes for home consumption. Those with huge tracts of land also produce maize for both for consumption and for sale in local markets.

The unique thing about this community is how women do tasks that are otherwise considered "male" tasks in other communities, in addition to their large daily burden of household and other work. Here, women are found plastering houses using mud and even grazing cows. The men's work mostly consists of building, planting, harvesting the sugarcane, and loading sugarcane onto tractors for ferrying to various sugar factories.

Relying on Contaminated Water

The water crisis poses a great challenge to the Mukohnje community. People here have to forgo other activities out of their need to fetch water above all else. Community members wake up and go for water as early as 6:00 am every day. Only once there is enough water for both drinking and household use are they able to engage in other activities like farming.

Mausi Spring serves 210 people, most of whom have to make 5 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.

That is a lot of time spent on fetching water, especially considering the water is not even safe for consumption.

In its unprotected state, Mausi Spring is very exposed to all forms of contamination. During the rainy season, in particular, most community members contract waterborne and water-related diseases. These illnesses drain people of their health, time, and money as they seek treatment and try to recover.

The collection point at the spring is very muddy, making it difficult for people to climb into and out of the spring. Community members have tried to improvise steps like terraces cut directly into the earth, but they are always getting swept away by the rains and run-off water.

"I hate coming for water at this spring because at times it is muddy when the drainage is blocked and the issue has not been addressed. I have to step in the water. Moreso, entry into the spring is easy but once I'm done fetching water, it is difficult for me exiting the spring if someone is not around to assist me in taking my fetched water out of the spring," said a young boy named Derrick whom we met on our visit.

To fetch water, community members have improvised a banana stem as a discharge pipe to try to focus the spring's discharge and ease the task of fetching water. But the stems rot quickly, and even the slightest disturbance brings muddy and sandy water for the next person.

Moreover, a lot of water escapes around the sides of the banana stem, to the frustration of the community members. As the banana stem begins to rot, it adds even more contamination to the water along with the runoff that carries farm chemicals, animal waste, and even human waste with the rains straight into the spring's collection point.

Field Officer Jonathan Mutai shared the following encounter from his most recent visit to Mausi Spring:

"Upon arriving at Mausi Spring, I met a woman who was collecting water. Another woman was in a line waiting for her turn to come. The first woman accidentally interfered with the banana stem used for discharging water. The woman tried to fix it but unfortunately, the banana stem had rotted so she had to go for a fresh banana stem. But she had already interfered with the water source, so the water was dirty."

"That seemed no good to me because the second woman had to wait and she could possibly collect dirtier water because the source has a lot of water but it is shallow, which means it easily becomes dirty by even the slightest mistake made."

For me, as much as the water looks clear I will not drink it simply because of its open nature. The source is very open to contamination."

Mrs. Grace Adupukha was one of those women drawing water from Mausi Spring whom Jonathan met. Mrs. Aduukha affirmed that most of the waterborne and water-related diseases in the area run rampant during the rainy season of the year when consuming water from the spring.

Typhoid and coughing have been the most common illnesses reported. Contracting these water-related illnesses wastes community members' time, energy, and money when they seek treatment and cannot go to work or take care of their families. Children miss school, farm work goes undone, and wages are left unearned.

Because Mausi Spring is not currently discharging water at its highest capacity due to the makeshift discharge pipe, the inefficiency is felt most during the dry season. When other seasonal springs in the area dry up, more and more people turn to Mausi Spring for its dependable supply of water.

"The water point is the sole point of getting water not only for drinking but also for general household chores. This then makes the spring at times overcrowded. Especially during the dry spell, we do waste a lot of time queueing for water. Besides that, our water source is exposed, making the water unsafe for drinking," said Mrs. Adupukha.

Generally, the sanitation and hygiene standards in this community are not good. Much improvement on hygiene practices is needed to help community members curb water- and hygiene-related diseases and save on resources that could be used for more constructive development.

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: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Mukhonje Community, Mausi Spring

Our teams are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us in our fight against the virus while maintaining access to clean, reliable water.

We are carrying out awareness and prevention trainings on the virus in every community we serve. Very often, our teams are the first (and only) to bring news and information of the virus to rural communities like Mukhonje, Kenya.

We trained more than 18 people on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19. Due to public gathering concerns, we worked with trusted community leaders to gather a select group of community members who would then relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

We covered essential hygiene lessons:

- Demonstrations on how to build a simple handwashing station

- Proper handwashing technique

- The importance of using soap and clean water for handwashing

- Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces including at the water point.

We covered COVID-19-specific guidance in line with national and international standards:

- Information on the symptoms and transmission routes of COVID-19

- What social distancing is and how to practice it

- How to cough into an elbow

- Alternative ways to greet people without handshakes, fist bumps, etc.

- How to make and properly wear a facemask.

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.

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 continue to stay in touch with this community as the pandemic progresses. We want to ensure their water point remains functional and their community stays informed about the virus.

Water access, sanitation, and hygiene are at the crux of disease prevention. You can directly support our work on the frontlines of COVID-19 prevention in all of the communities we serve while maintaining their access to safe, clean, and reliable water.

June, 2020: Mukhonje Community, Mausi Spring Project Complete!

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

Mukhonje Community now has access to clean water! Mausi 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.

The community members were very happy about this new spring and wanted to express their appreciation to the donors who helped make this possible. They said that at long last, they have seen the light at the end of the tunnel of challenges that they have been facing. The rotten banana stem that initially was used when collecting water has been replaced by the discharge pipe and a lot of water which had gone untapped has been captured through the implementation of their spring.

"Access to reliable, safe water from the spring will help me reduce the spending of money in treating waterborne and water-related diseases," said 34-year-old Zadock Mausi, who works as a teacher.

"It will also impact my life positively because water is within our proximity, hence it is easier and cheaper to get. Besides that, I will not be having any challenge health-wise; I will be okay."

Thinking about the future made possible in part due to the new spring, Mr. Mausi shared his business goals.

"The plans I do have are to venture into agribusiness besides teaching. One of them is to have zero-grazing cows because milk is on high demand currently. The water point will help me achieve this goal because zero-grazing animals require a lot of water, not only for drinking but also for doing cleanliness of their pens on a daily basis."

Children were just as excited as the adults about the new spring.

"The reliable, safe water from our spring will impact my life greatly because I will be drinking safe, clean water free from any waterborne disease. This implies that I will not be missing going to school, hence I will improve my grades. One of my goals is to improve school performance. Now that we have reliable, safe water that is very accessible and easy to get, it will save on time when drawing water from it, hence the rest of the time I will utilize for my studies," said primary student Emma.

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.


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.

Community members help mix mortar for 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 the stairs.

Layering concrete and mortar for 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.


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 as children and community members look on

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.

Cement and plaster work

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.

Seamless teamwork in every step

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.

Community members delivered rocks by hand for backfilling

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.

Stone backfilling

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.

Grass planting

Community members transplanted grass onto the backfilled soil to help prevent erosion. A village elder also planted a water-friendly tree at the spring - on that does not require large quantities of water to grow so it will not lower the water table or yield of the spring.

Village elder plants a water-friendly tree at the spring

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.


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.

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.

Ariel on a 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.

Emma (center) and her sisters pose on a sanitation platform

New Knowledge

The community members who assisted our artisan 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, Team Leader Catherine Chepkemoi with Co-Facilitators Ian Nakitare and Jonathan Mutai deployed to the site.

Team Leader Catherine helps children wash their hands before beginning training

As part of our team's coordination with the Kenya Ministry of Health in carrying out COVID-19 sensitization trainings throughout the region, this training was also considered an essential service and therefore allowed to gather a group. At the time, social distancing was a new concept and one that challenges cultural norms. Although some community members were hesitant to adopt social distancing during the training, we sensitized them on its importance and effectiveness in combating the spread of the virus. Mask wearing was similarly not yet a familiar practice nor a requirement in public places. Even our own teams did not yet have personal protective gear.

A woman reads an informational pamphlet on COVID-19 symptoms and prevention

A lot has changed since then. We have since developed trainings exclusively on COVID-19 prevention and awareness, and our teams only go to the field wearing their full personal protective gear. 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.

25 people attended training, including the local Village Health Volunteer. It was a good turnout. Training was held at Mr. Mausi's homestead under tree shade. The venue was good and spacious enough to accommodate all of the participants. The venue was also good for adhering to the government directive of social distancing as a measure to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Practicing the 10 steps of handwashing

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.

Trainer Ian demonstrates handwashing with the help of Team Leader Catherine

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.

COVID-19 was by far the most interesting topic to participants as not one person lacked a question on the same. Myths about the disease were full in the air, so the facilitators helped distinguish the facts from the fiction. One common misconception was that only liquid soap helps curb the spread of the disease, when in fact it is any form of soap that is key. This helped ease some minds as bar soap is more common and cheaper to purchase than liquid soap.

Catherine heads the question-and-answer forum on COVID-19

Second only to the coronavirus, personal hygiene was another memorable topic. Some community members said they take a bath only when necessary and not on a daily basis as is recommended. One man affirmed that he only bathes after he does heavy work. The facilitator urged everyone to be taking a bath at least once a day, if not twice. With the protected spring aiding in water collection by reducing the time and effort to fetch it, more regular washing could now be a less burdensome standard.

Trainer Ian explains and demonstrates the solar disinfection method of water treatment

"The training was of great value to me. I learned a lot about sanitation and hygiene. We have been grazing cows around our homestead without always removing the cow dung - something which is not good as far as hygiene is concerned because it attracts flies which are agents of contamination. The training has helped me to take up cleanliness seriously," said 27-year-old Marylyne Mukhwami, who works as an Early Childhood Development Teacher.

Marylyne with a fresh drink 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 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!

May, 2020: Mukhonje Community, Mausi Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Mausi Spring is making people in Mukhonje 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!

A Year Later: Better Academics and Improved Health

November, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Mukhonje Community 4.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mukhonje Community 4 maintain access to safe, reliable water. Together, they keep The Water Promise.

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

"Before [the] implementation of this spring, getting water was very difficult and tiresome because you could stay at the spring for [a] long time in order to fetch water," said nine-year-old Margret K. "Moreso, children like us [were] given [the] opportunity last to fetch water because the elder ones [were] thinking we might make water dirty on the process before them fetching.
"Now, the water point is discharging a lot of water, so we don't waste our time queuing for water. Moreso, no one can discriminate [against] us on age as no one can make [the] water dirty as it was before. Also, the rampant cases of waterborne and water-related diseases [were] eliminated completely. So [the] implementation of this spring has impacted me much positively, because [I] am now not prone to waterborne diseases as I was initially.
"Since [the] construction of the spring, I rarely miss going [to] school and this has translated to good performance in academics."

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 Mukhonje Community 4 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 Mukhonje Community 4 – 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.

Giving Update: Mausi Spring

June, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Mukhonje Community 4.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mukhonje Community 4 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 implementation of this spring, getting water was very difficult and tiresome because you could stay at the spring for a long time to fetch water. More so, children like me were last to fetch water because the elder ones thought we might make the water dirty while fetching it before them," said Margret.

"Now, the water point is discharging a lot of water we don't waste our time queuing for water. More so, no one can discriminate based on age as no one can make the water dirty like before. Also, the rampant cases of common water-borne and water-related diseases have been completely eliminated. So the implementation of this spring has impacted me very positively because I am now not prone to water-borne diseases."

"Since construction of the spring, I rarely miss going to school, and this has translated to a good performance in academics."

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 Mukhonje Community 4 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 Mukhonje Community 4 – 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 - Watson Family Charitable Fund
1 individual donor(s)