Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 420 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Dec 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/04/2024

Project Features

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Silungai B is a rich area bursting with nature. As you approach this community you see the green vegetation of maize and trees all over. The area is also a bit rocky, especially as you approach the spring. On the lower side of the community is a river that marks the boundary of the village. The road leading to the spring is made of murram, or packed clay and gravel, off the busy Kakamega-Eldoret tarmac road.

In Silungai B, most people are large-scale farmers with the dominant crop being maize. During our visit, the maize was ready and drying up in the farms before harvesting. Others are sugarcane farmers. Most of the youth are boda boda, or motorbike taxi, riders at the shopping center of Silungai.

This community is unique as it borders the famous Chimoi Market that has been known for a long time as a center of long-distance truck drivers ferrying goods from Mombasa to Uganda and Tanzania. As you approach the center, you are met by a long trail of trucks waiting to cross the border in either direction. During the pandemic, the trail has been long and slow and many trucks were parked alongside the busy Kakamega Eldoret tarmac road as their drivers alight for snacks and other necessities.

The lack of safe water in this area has long had a negative impact on the health of the 420 people who depend on Tali Saya Spring for their daily water needs. Community members report frequent episodes of stomachaches and diarrhea after drinking the spring water, with children under 5 being the most common visitors to the Silungai Dispensary due to water-related illnesses.

Because it is completely open, the spring is vulnerable to contamination from surface run-off, which brings with it farm chemicals and animal waste, among other toxins. The money families spend on medical treatment could be saved or better spent on other critical needs, they say, but they keep having to pay for medicine and hospital visits instead. When they are sick, adults miss out on work and kids stay home from school, hurting both group's potential for success.

"My name is Ruth Timothy. I have been married in this community for the last 15 years. Our only water source is this unprotected spring. This spring never dries up during the dry season. But as a result of it being open to contamination, we have constantly suffered from waterborne disease outbreaks. These diseases have constantly drained my family of the little resources we have in treating the diseases. We appeal for your help in protecting this spring so that we can live better and healthy lives," 48-year-old Ruth said.

Poor accessibility has also been a challenge at Tali Saya Spring. Whenever it rains, the area leading up to the spring becomes slick with mud. Falls, spilled water, and injuries are common consequences of trying to leave the spring. Many children fear going to the spring because of its bushy surroundings, where snakes and other potentially dangerous animals can easily hide.

Community members tried to improvise a discharge pipe at the spring using a piece of sheet metal stuck directly into the ground, but the metal inevitably misses some of the water as it runs around and under the sheet. This adds to the lines and crowds at the spring, which are especially unwanted during the pandemic when people are trying to avoid groups and limit their time in public.

The frequent rains often wash the metal away. And to reach the metal sheet in any weather, community members must try to balance on the rocks they placed just below it, trying to avoid standing in the pool of water directly beneath the spring's output. It's a slippery and precarious position to be in, let alone to get out of while carrying 1 or more full containers of water.

"I dread each day going to the spring, especially when it has rained. One time I slipped and fell with water on my head, spraining my ankle. We are glad that you have come to help," shared hopeful young teenager Rabecah.

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.

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: Silungai B Community, Tali Saya Spring Project Complete!

Silungai B Community now has access to clean water! Tali Saya 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 trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices, including COVID-19 prevention.

Field Officer Lillian Achineg' (left) and community members celebrate the newly protected spring.

"This water has come in so handy during this COVID-19 season when we are required to wash our hands regularly. I will be able to have water in my home all the time to wash my hands, thus keeping the virus at bay. I am sure of the purity of my drinking water now that it's no longer open to contamination," said Sofa Said, a farmer in the community.

"I will be able to concentrate on my farmwork fully, even till late, knowing that it will only take me seconds to draw water from the spring and go home. Fetching water from the unprotected spring used to consume most of my time," she recalled.

Sofa splashes water while celebrating the spring

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

"My mother will have peace when we are all free from water-caused diseases. It affects me to see her worried when we don't have money for treatment. Her peace is my peace," said Rebecca, a teenager and a primary school student.


"We have been encouraged to continue studying while at home during this COVID-19 period, but most of my time was consumed by fetching water due to the low discharge. This will change due to the two discharge pipes and the high discharge speed of our new spring. Now I will be able to fetch the water very fast and concentrate on my studies."

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.

Community members mix construction materials for the artisan's use

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 is always wet and muddy

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.

A freshwater crab found living in the spring during excavation

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.

Brick toss teamwork to pass materials to the artisan

Next, we began one of the most crucial spring protection steps to ensure a fully functional water point: setting the discharge pipe. In this case, we installed two discharge pipes due to the spring's naturally high yield. The discharge pipes have 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 pipes and the spring floor to allow room for the average jerrycan (a 20-liter container) to sit beneath the pipes without making contact.

Setting the discharge pipes

If the discharge pipes 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 pipes 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.

Plastering the stone pitching into place to form the rub walls

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 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.

Breaking rocks down for backfilling

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, beautify the spring, and facilitate easy cleaning of the spring floor.

Fitting the tarp

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 pipes only.

Backfilling with soil

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

A boy delivers freshly-dug sod to be planted at the spring

Community members transplanted grass onto the backfilled soil to help prevent erosion. Finally, the collection area was fenced to discourage any person or animal from walking on it since compaction can lead to disturbances in the backfill layers and potentially compromise water quality.


The entire construction process took about two weeks of work and patience to allow the cement and plaster to finish curing. This spring proved to be a bit complicated during the construction process due to the terrain of the place, but, with the community's help, our skilled artisan was able to maneuver the land with a fantastic outcome of water gushing from two discharge pipes.

Ruth Tali fetches water

The community members gave their all to see this spring protected, so as soon as it was ready, Field Officer Lillian Achineg' gave the okay to the community to begin fetching water. We officially handed over the spring directly following training to mark the community's ownership of the water point. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day, flowing in all directions.

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 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.

Ruth Tali stands with 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.

With our main contact for the community Mr. Timothy Tali, 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, relaying the information learned to the rest of their family and friends. When the day arrived, facilitator Lillian Achieng' deployed to the site to lead the event.

Field Officer Lillian Achieng' leads training

15 people attended the training, including local leaders. We conducted the training in an open place near the spring, where the participants sat on the ground under the trees' shade. The location was conducive to physical distancing and enabled easy access to the spring for practical demonstrations and water needs throughout the training. It was particularly chilly that day, but the participants did not complain.

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 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

Lillian (left) demonstrates the ten steps of effective handwashing

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.

COVID-19 was by far the most memorable topic. Despite the virus having been in Kenya since March, some community members still believed that it was a myth and did not come to training wearing a face mask. For those who already believed in the virus, they expected us to have brought more than knowledge to them in the form of soap or sanitizers.

An elder demonstrates the ten steps of handwashing

"The training has really opened my eyes to how serious this COVID-19 disease is. A lot has been said about it, but deep inside, I doubt that it's not real. With you coming all this way to sensitize us on this disease, I have now believed that it's real, and I will now seriously stick to the regulations laid down by our Ministry of Health and follow all you've taught us today," said Sarah Saya, a farmer and mother in the community.

"Many community members - including myself - have been using masks when in public to avoid being arrested by the police and not because they want to protect themselves. Few have been washing their hands, but social distancing has been a dream since people still mingle," Sarah explained.

"After this training, with the availability of plenty of water now, I will ensure my home has a handwashing point with soap. Community members who attended the meeting have seen the importance of avoiding crowded places, and so they will avoid burials and weddings during this pandemic. It's our tradition here to give our deceased a send-off by attending the burial, but we will be careful by sticking to the regulated numbers [of attendees]."

Community members spread out and take notes 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. We held an election for the newly formed water user committee leaders during the leadership and governance session.

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.

The second most memorable topic was site maintenance. Due to so much joy and appreciation for their protected spring, the community members agreed they would draft a constitution to outline the fines and punishments given to those who would go against the rules put in place for the spring's best management use.

"The training has had a great impact on me, especially on the way I handle my family's drinking water. I've always carried my water in an open container from the spring to the house, not knowing that it could be contaminated on its way home. I've learned that it should always be covered, and that's what I'll do from today henceforth," said Ruth Tali, a farmer in the community.

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!

December, 2020: Silungai B Community, Tali Saya Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Tali Saya Spring is making people in Silungai B 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: Dorcas Has Time to Read!

January, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Silungai B 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!

Dorcas N., 13, described her challenges using the previously unprotected spring. "It used to be survival for the fittest, especially when we would be sent from school to come and fetch water from this spring. With community members and us at the spring, drawing water from [the] unprotected source only meant contaminating the water more when fighting for access. Some pupils would get injured due to the poor terrain. We would take [a] long [time] before going back to school, thus wasting learning time. The same applied when fetching water for home use."

When asked how the spring protection has impacted her life in the last year, Dorcas commented, "Aaaah! Right now, it's like drawing water from a huge tank that never goes dry. These huge pipes with lots of water have made it so easy for me and my fellow pupils to fetch water for both school and home use. We no longer scramble over water at this spring."

She continued, "I have been able to save on time, especially at home, and taken the time to read my books. Spending less time at the spring has enabled me to achieve that."

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 Silungai B 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 Silungai B 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.


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