Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 140 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/04/2024

Project Features

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"My name is Nelly Mulongo and I've been married in this community for the last 13 years. I am normally overburdened with the task of fetching water each day. The reason being, our water gets contaminated and cloudy after many people have fetched it. This forces me to go as early as 6:00 am to the spring to fetch water because it settles down in the night."

"I am also a business lady and by 6:00 am I need to be at the market to get fresh merchandise at wholesale price. I am forced to miss going to the market to go and get water. Other times, I just go to the market and this leaves me with no option but to use contaminated water that is not safe for my family."

Nelly is just 1 of the 140 people in Mukhungula who depend on water from Mulongo Spring for all of their daily water needs. But the spring is hardly meeting those needs when in its unprotected state, all it produces is contaminated water.

The spring is completely open, leaving it prone to dirty surface runoff when it rains. To fetch water, community members have to completely submerge their containers inside the spring water, adding any dirt or contaminants from the outside of their containers and hands directly to the water. Many people also step inside the spring to get a better position for fetching water, or they slip in by accident. Both put them at risk of contracting bilharzia.

During the rainy season, the area around the spring becomes particularly slippery and risky to traverse. There are also insects and frogs that breed in the water, thus creating a health hazard and danger to the community members consuming it. Community members report cases of diarrhea, stomachaches, and coughs from consuming the spring water, especially amongst children.

The spring water is visually cloudy, so as Nelly mentioned, many people try to fetch it first thing in the morning before more people fetching cause more dirt and sand to mix with the water. But this creates long lines and crowding, which are especially concerning during the pandemic as people are trying to avoid groups and limit their time in public. That time also wastes adults' valuable work and business time and children's time in school. When the water gets really murky, community members try to use a sieve to remove some of the larger pieces of dirt.

"We will be glad if our spring is protected. This is because I have to wake up early to go to the spring each morning. Whenever it's dark I am scared to go...Acccesibility is also a challenge, especially whenever it rains," explained young teenager Sheila.

Mukhungula is a beautiful area composed of farming activities, businesses, and green vegetation. The community is comprised of a mixture of Luhya sub-tribes, including the Kabras, Tachoni, Bukusu, and Banyala. The majority of people here are farmers, growing crops such as maize, sugarcane, and sweet potatoes. Others like Nelly operate their own small businesses. Many of the young men have also ventured into the boda boda (motorbike taxi) business at the local shopping center, ferrying people in and out of this location.

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: Mulongo Spring Project Complete!

Mukhungula Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Mulongo 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.

Mama Alice Soloman Baraka, elected Secretary of the water user committee, celebrates the spring's completion.

"As a business lady, I am able to run my small hotel without any fear because I have enough water for my customers to wash their hands as many times as they wish to. To add to that, hygiene standards will also be observed because I will be able to clean my hands three times a day. I am so happy because I am now safe, compared to the other days when I used to buy water," said 22-year-old business owner Lizzy Kaita.

Lizzy Kaita

Lizzy added that now, there would be "a good relationship between community members."

"Initially, conflicts were being started every now and then because women could spend a lot of time gossiping at the spring. Now, very few minutes are taken at the spring - no more time-wasting."

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

"There was wastage of time at the spring before it was protected. I was forced to wait for the water to clean up, but now I place my container under the pipe, and after few minutes, the container is full," said teenager Margret.

"Having this clean water with us is a blessing. We will be able to do farming activities throughout the year because our spring is not seasonal, and with the money earned from the sales, I will be able to buy textbooks when we resume school."

Preparing for Spring Protection

Community members worked together to source and carried 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 the gravel. Because people have to carry most items by hand, the materials collection process can take anywhere from a few weeks to months. We saw a tremendous amount of teamwork and dedication from the community members during this stage of preparation.

People of all ages helped prepare and deliver materials for construction.

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.

Bringing rocks to the spring site.

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.

Laying 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.

Measuring the first line of bricks for the headwall

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 as the walls grow taller

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 quickly. 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.

Plastering 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 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.

Backfilling with rocks as water begins to flow through the discharge pipe

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.

Backfilling soil on top of the tarp laid over the rocks

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 dirt on top to create a slight mound to compensate for the backfill’s future settlement.

Fencing and planting grass

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.

Community members pose at the completed 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 fetch water.

Rosemary Mulongo, elected Chair of the water user committee, enjoys the spring's 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. The spring's elected Chair, Rosemary Mulongo, said a prayer, followed by all of the community members singing songs of joy and thanking God for enabling them to complete the spring protection.

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.

Mama Mulongo poses on her family's new sanitation platform next to the pit they dug for its installation.

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 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 Lilian Achieng and Rose Serete deployed to the site to lead the event.

Trainer Lilian shows how to make a tippy tap or leaky tin handwashing station out of any container at home.

13 people attended the training, including the local Village Health Volunteer. We held the training outside under the shade of trees not too far from the spring. This location allowed people to spread out while observing physical distancing, and it aided in the practical demonstrations at the spring.

Trainer Rose demonstrates the ten steps of handwashing.

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.

Participants wore masks and sat physically distanced 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.

One of the more memorable discussions at training was under the topic of personal hygiene. Community members said they typically take a bath at the river where many people may be bathing at once. The facilitators advised them that taking clean water from the spring and showering alone, without being in the same water as others bathing, would help them be more hygienic.

Participants take notes at training.

Another interesting topic was during dental hygiene when someone asked why children tend to diarrhea and vomit while they are teething? The trainers explained that it is not the teething itself but likely that whatever the babies pick up and put in their mouths is not hygienic, leading to their illness. A lot of the young mothers, in particular, were keen to ask questions and share their experiences in this session.


"The training was good; a lot of hygiene matters were discussed. I really enjoyed the topic of handwashing because my people have been ignorant about it. The facilitators took us through the ten steps, and I am now happy because most of the community members promised to wash their hands regularly...I am going to train my family members so that we can fight this pandemic," said teenager Margret.

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!

January, 2021: Mukhungula Community, Mulongo Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Mulongo Spring is making people in Mukhungula 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: More Time to Study and Play!

January, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mukhungula 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!

Charles K., 13, shared what it was like to get water from the spring last year before we protected it. "The place was not easy to access. I would fall with my container trying to carry the water home. It would get worse during the rainy season. The passage would get slippery and water dirtier."

But now, access to the spring has been made safe. "The place looks clearer, and the access is great due to the stairs, even during the rainy season. The discharge pipe makes it easy to draw the water."

Thanks to the spring protection, Charles has clean water anytime he needs it, which allows him to attend to other important tasks and even enjoy some downtime. "I have been able to plan my time well, especially during the weekend and holidays. I get time to look after my father's cows, play with my friends, and also study since I spend less time fetching water."

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 Mukhungula 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 Mukhungula 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.


Miles, Lucy and Harry
Chihiro's Campaign for Water
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