Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 81 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/03/2024

Project Features

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The Machemo area is very green. Households are made mostly of semi-permanent structures with iron sheet roofs. Some of their floors are made of mud, while others are cement. The roads are rocky and not yet tarmacked, thus making accessibility difficult during rainy seasons.

81 people in Machemo depend on Boaz Mukulo Spring for all of their daily water needs, and yet they cannot access clean and safe water from the spring. The water source is open to surface runoff, animal waste, soil erosion, and human activity which all pollute the water.

Community members report that children are primarily affected by the spring's dirty water, often contracting typhoid. Parents then have to treat their children's water-related illness, and this means the money that was to be used for other developments is diverted to medicine. Because good health is the backbone of all success and development, when an individual has a health issue, it affects all other aspects of their life. The prevalence of waterborne diseases here affects the economy of the family and also the education of the children, as kids have to stay home from school until they are better.

"Personally, the state of our water point is mainly affecting my economic stability. I have young children who are school-going and maintaining proper hygiene is a problem. During the time they are sent to fetch water, they do not consider any hygiene practice. This makes me go look for health measures like buying water guards to treat the water to make it safe for drinking," said 35-year-old farmer and spring landowner Mr. Boaz.

But not all community members can afford water treatment systems like Mr. Boaz, and the ones who can are losing precious resources doing so.

Accessibility is also an issue at the spring because the water flows through the soil; there is no pipe available to help in easy access. Community members have tried to implement a pipe using a banana stalk, but it frequently gets washed away, and it carries its own algae and growths on it that contaminate the water. The area surrounding the spring is slick with mud and water, and sometimes people - especially kids - fall in while trying to fetch water.

"What affects me most is how to get water easily from this point. At times, when you slide you find yourself in water and mud. In the morning hours and evenings, the water is dirty and this makes it difficult to fetch. You need to wait for a long time so that it can settle," said young adult Lavin.

The process to fetch water at the spring is long and frustrating, and it stirs up mud in the water no matter how careful people are. Though people try to wait to let the water settle between users, most people have to fetch water at the same time in the mornings and evenings. It seems the mud and crowds are inevitable, the latter of which is particularly concerning during the pandemic when community members are trying to avoid groups and limit their time spent in public.

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: Boaz Mukulo Spring Project Complete!

Machemo Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Boaz Mukulo 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.

Women celebrate the spring's completion.

"Before, I would suffer from waterborne diseases. Most money would be used to treat the diseases. Now, with clean water, the money can instead be put into the business and other ventures," said Naomi Rhoda, a farmer in the community.

"With access to clean water now, it is a relief. Now I can easily access clean, safe water for sanitation purposes, especially during this pandemic. Also, very little time is spent at the water point fetching water because of the high discharge. Now, I get time to also engage in other activities like farming and other things," Naomi added.

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

"Now, with access to clean water, I am no longer worried about waterborne diseases. I can easily go about my day-to-day cleaning activities with no problems," said teenager Esther.

"Before, I would frequently get sick, and that would mean money being spent on me. But, now, I am assured of clean, safe water."

"With access to clean water, now I can go about my daily sanitation duties easily. That also means more time on my hands that I can now comfortably concentrate on my studies as I also engage in other activities, and also have time for entertainment and making new friends," she said.

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.

Delivering stones to the worksite.

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.

Carrying bricks to the artisan

From Open Source to Protected Spring: A Step-by-Step Process

At last, it was time to dig in at the spring! Women and men lent their strength to the artisan each day to help with the manual labor. First, we cleared and excavated the spring area. We dug a drainage channel below the spring and several surface runoff diversion channels above and around the spring. These help to divert environmental contaminants carried by the rains away from the spring.


To ensure community members could still fetch water throughout the construction process, we also dug temporary diversion channels from the spring’s eye around the construction site. This allowed water to flow without severely disrupting community members’ water needs or the construction work.

Brick setting 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.

Creating diversion channels

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.

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.

Working on the stone pitching

In coordination with brickwork, we pitched medium to large stones on both sides of the spring’s drainage channel. We then cemented and plastered each stone group into place, forming the rub walls. These help to discourage people and animals from trying to stand on that area, which could cause soil erosion and thus a clogged drainage area.


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.

Setting the tiles

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.


We transitioned to the final stages of construction with the tiles in place - backfilling the reservoir box. First, we cleared the collection box of any debris that may have fallen in since its construction, such as dead leaves or other items. Then we redirected the temporary diversion channels back into the reservoir box, channeling water into this area for the first time. We closed off all of the other exits to start forcing the water through the discharge pipe only.

Fencing around the backfilled catchment area

With much help from the community, we filled up the reservoir area with the clean and large stones they gathered, arranging them in layers like a well-fitting puzzle. We covered the stones with a thick plastic tarp to minimize potential contamination sources from aboveground, followed by a layer of soil. We piled enough soil on top to create a slight mound to compensate for the backfill’s future settlement.

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.

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.

We officially handed over the spring directly following training to mark the community's ownership of the water point. There were so much excitement and happiness all around. The community offered a thanksgiving prayer, followed by a vote of thanks from the members appreciating the involved parties for the concern and care shown to them, ensuring they have clean and safe water.

Sanitation Platforms

We completed all five sanitation platforms and handed them over to their new owners. These five families are happy about this milestone of having a private latrine of their own and are optimistic that people will no longer leave waste outdoors. We are encouraging families to finish building walls and roofs over their new latrine floors and other families to replicate the design after having helped construct these examples.

Esther poses on a 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 their preferred date for training while considering other community calendar events, such as the agricultural season and social events. We requested a select yet a 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 Patience Njeri Wanyonyi and Samuel Simidi deployed to the site to lead the event.

Trainer Patience demonstrates the ten steps of handwashing, asking participants to follow along.

13 people attended training, including members of the local self-help group and a few community members who work as teachers in nearby schools. We held the training outside at the home of one of the participants and also at the spring. The surrounding area was tranquil and cool. The attendees were very active, participating during the training through discussions, asking questions, and answering them.

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.

A participant demonstrates handwashing.

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.

Patience leads community members in a homemade face mask tutorial.

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.

Group members were eager to share how they already manage their finances, including small groups known as chamas where they save their money. In the chamas, they use table banking to borrow money as a loan and pay it back after a certain period of time with an interest. The women agreed that this is very beneficial, and it is how they get to better their lives. We encouraged the group to keep up their savings and loan program.

A woman demonstrates proper toothbrushing technique during the dental hygiene session at training.

"I have learned that I should not be afraid to share any issues I might have with an older person. That way, I reduce the risk of going into depression," said teenager Esther, referring to the personal health portion of the training.

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: Boaz Mukulo Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Boaz Mukulo Spring is making people in Machemo, 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 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: Time for Studying and Football!

February, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Machemo Community 2.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Machemo Community 2 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!

Gladys M., 16, said, "[Before the spring protection] the water source was open for all contamination, [and there was] no fence which could protect animals from accessing the water source. During [the] rainy season, accessing the area was difficult due to [the] slippery and muddy clays of the surrounding [area]."

But now that the spring has been protected, Gladys shared how things are different for her. "Water flows easily, which is more reliable for drinking. The collection point is accessible for everyone fetching water. Stairs are well-designed for everybody to access. We have minimal cases of diseases, which is a great improvement, and also the hygiene standards have really improved."

But now that there is easier access to clean, safe water, Gladys has other things to concentrate on.  "[I'm] focusing on my studies and nurturing my talents of being a great footballer in [the] future."

Gladys collecting water from 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 Machemo Community 2 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 Machemo Community 2 – 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.


6 individual donor(s)