Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 400 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Dec 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/09/2024

Project Features

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At best, Busuku Spring looks like a muddy drainage trench dug through an overgrown garden.

It is a great challenge to access the spring, especially during the rainy season, community members report. The area is muddy and slippery. The water is highly contaminated from being an open source, and it collects a lot of dirty surface runoff when it rains. Dogs drink directly from the spring, and as people fetch water they have to step inside the water thus contaminating it even further.

Lines develop at the spring every day as people have to wait to let the water settle between their turns fetching it. Otherwise, too much mud is stirred up while they try to fetch it. These crowds often lead to conflicts, and the children are normally the most affected as they have to wait until all of the adults have fetched water first before the kids can do the same.

All of this extra wait time builds up, meaning on some occasions community members take long hours at the spring. This is especially true in the morning and afternoon, when most people go to fetch water. The long waits have made some community members resort to waking up as early as 5:00 am to go to the spring to fetch water before the crowds surge in. Those who are not able to make it to the spring in the wee hours of the morning, however, have no choice but to wait in the long queues during the day. The crowding is particularly dangerous during the pandemic when community members are trying to avoid groups or being out in public for too long.

The lost time at the spring also interferes with the normal daily activities that have to be put on hold until water is found. As most people are farmers, they have to delay going to the field, costing them food and income. When school is in session, kids will sometimes miss their entire morning lessons just waiting to fetch water at the spring.

"My name is Faith, a pupil at Kakoyi Primary School. Each day as the sun shone in through the windows, I dreaded the experience of going to fetch water as I would wait and wait and even leave without a single drop of water due to the long queue. This meant that I would sometimes go to school on an empty stomach and upon reaching school I am punished by the teacher on duty. At times, I would be even told to clean the toilets on an empty stomach. I am glad that this will be a thing of the past. As I join class 8 next year, I look forward to excelling in my examinations as no more time will be wasted at the spring."

Consuming dirty water from Busuku Spring is a major cause of diarrhea and stomachaches for community members here, especially among children under age 5. Community members spend a lot of money and time seeking medical treatment for their water-related illnesses.

Despite its bad water quality, the spring remains one of the most reliable, year-round water sources in the area, so there is often little choice in using its water. The only alternative water source in the area is a hand-dug well, but it goes dry for part of the year and gives worse water than the spring - so poor in quality that people only risk watering their animals with it.

"My dream has finally come true and we shall now have clean water. I will no longer delay going to the farm and my children will no longer go to school on an empty stomach. Our children will be healthy and sicknesses will be a thing of the past. We are ready to contribute whatever materials that will be required for protection," stated an excited Rose Shangu reflecting on the planned spring protection.

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 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

December, 2020: Nguvuli Community, Busuku Spring Project Complete!

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

"For many years in this community, we have drunk dirty water. This really affected us with waterborne diseases. Our animals were also affected due to drinking contaminated water - I have two bulls that I use to earn a livelihood by plowing people's farms during planting time. As my family enjoys safe and clean drinking water, my cows will also be healthy, thus earning more income," said John Busuku, the spring's landowner.

"Water is the key to opening doors and opportunities. I have plans to engage in meaningful economic activities," added Mr.Busuku.

John Busuku celebrating clean water at the spring

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

"I am so happy that I will no longer fear slipping and falling in the spring, especially during the rainy season, as our spring is protected with good access to it. In the past, whenever it rained, we would slip and fall. I will also save time used in the past, searching for fetching water to play and also study. I will have time to go to school and learn to be a great woman in the future," said young primary school-aged Jacklyne.

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. Everyone traveled to and from the work site each day throughout the construction process, so individual households provided meals throughout the day to sustain the workers.

A woman carries bricks to the spring construction site.

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—this help to divert the environmental contaminants identified in the pre-construction water quality test.

Excavation of the spring site

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.

Forming the spring's 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.

Brick and stonework

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 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.

Setting the pipe

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.

Rub wall construction

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.

Stairs construction

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.


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 erosive force of the falling water, beautify the spring, and facilitate easy cleaning of the spring floor.

Mid-backfilling process

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.


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.

Planting grass over the catchment area

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.

Water User Committee member Rose Shango happy at the spring

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 begin fetching water. We officially handed over the spring to the community directly following training. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day, flowing in all directions.

Water User Committee Treasurer Julia Andisi celebrates the spring

Sanitation Platforms

All five sanitation platforms have been completed and handed 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.

Mary Busuku stands in front of her family's new sanitation platform

Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19 and More

Due to the ongoing challenges and restrictions amidst the pandemic, we worked with both local leaders and the national Ministry of Health to gain approval for a small group training about health, hygiene, and COVID-19 prevention.

Together with the community, we found the community’s preferred date for training while considering other events in the community calendar, such as the agricultural season and the national coronavirus-related curfew. We requested a select yet representative group of community members to attend training, who would then relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends. When the day arrived, facilitators Karen Maruti and Betty Majani deployed to the site to lead the event.

Cough and sneeze into the elbow like this

23 people attended the training, including representatives from local leaders, the community health volunteer, and the village's self-help group. We held the training at spring landowner Mr. Busuku's homestead as it was in a central location to the other attendees and close to the spring. The big indigenous tree in Mr. Busuku's compound provided an ideal shade for the training. The participants also enjoyed the cool breeze from the Malava forest and could easily spread out to maintain physical distancing.

Trainer Betty demonstrates the ten steps of handwashing

Perhaps the most important topic of the day was our session on COVID-19 prevention and specific guidance in line with national and international standards. There has been tension and panic all over about the coronavirus in Kenya, so this was a session everyone eagerly participated in, the trainers noted. We covered:

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

- What physical distancing is and how to practice it

- How to cough and sneeze into the elbow

- Contactless greetings

- How to make and properly wear a facemask

Trainer Karen shows how to make a mask from materials at home

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 disease 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.

Jamila demonstrates handwashing using a tippy tap

"I've learned how to fabricate the masks locally. In the past, we spent a lot on purchasing the masks and also risked being fined for lack of masks in public places. With this knowledge, we are armed and ready to fabricate masks for our entire family members as well as to sell to others," said Rosemary Masika, the Community Health Volunteer in Nguvuli.

Rosemary at the spring

"In this community and particularly my home, I have improvised two handwashing stations, one near the house and the other near the latrine. We encourage everyone, including visitors, to wash their hands regularly. We also wear masks as we leave home going to the market places and social events/places."

"Since we have learned how to fabricate the masks locally, we will ensure that we make masks for our children who are going to school, for the entire family, and also to sell the extra ones to earn income," Rosemary added.

Rosemary refills the handwashing station at training

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. During the leadership and governance session, we held an election for the newly formed water user committee's leaders.

Site maintenance session at the spring; here, a demonstration on how to properly clean the cement

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.

Dental hygiene was a particularly lively topic as many community members admitted to not following a daily dental hygiene routine. All were eager to learn more about proper tooth care, including flossing and brushing, with toothpaste to begin trying the same at home.

A volunteer demonstrates proper toothbrushing

The session on group dynamics was also quite memorable. This topic included the stages of group growth, their challenges, and how to embrace them.  Discussions quickly ensued. It was evident that almost all of the participants were already in groups. A majority had moved from one group to another due to the challenges they faced in the previous groups. These challenges ranged from poor governance to lack of transparency amongst the officials to general disagreements.

A community member reacts to a training discussion

Community members readily embraced the topic and confessed that they are now ready to face whatever challenges may arise in their groups. One woman excited everyone when she mentioned that she had just sent in her withdrawal letter from her current group since it was experiencing a "storming stage" of disagreements. Still, she was now armed to deal with the storms head-on and would remain involved.

"This training has really opened my eyes to understand that good hygiene practices and safe water handling are all geared towards better health. I really thank your team for the training, especially in dental hygiene...I know this knowledge will go a long way in enhancing better hygiene in my family," said John Shango, an elected member of the water user committee.

John Shango at the spring

"We also heard so many myths on the Corona pandemic, but now we are armed with not only information but also equipped to do our own masks. And as children are getting back to school, this knowledge will go a long way in saving us some shillings for purchasing the masks," John added.

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!

November, 2020: Nguvuli Community, Busuku Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Busuku Spring is making people in Nguvuli 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: Life Has Changed

November, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Nguvuli 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!

Sarahphine, 15, commented, "We go to school without worry of water because we can fetch it anytime and it is clean. I am improving in my academics because of spending a lot of time reading. We collect water here anytime and use it for all [our] home chores. It is now a guarantee to wash my [school] uniform twice a week."

Community member Rose Shango shared how the protected spring has made collecting water easier for her. "Collecting water at this source was difficult especially when it rained. There was a lot of mud and sand. It was not well made compared to now. It is easier, and it is clean. The stairs have made it easier to access water."

She continued to share how her health and hygiene have improved. "Our life has changed because our health has improved. It has helped me improve my hygiene, especially water storage and handling."

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 Nguvuli 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 Nguvuli 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 Sponsor - St. Therese Foundation