Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 210 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/04/2024

Project Features

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"The current water situation has really affected my family because we have been sick for a long time. We were treating ourselves for malaria but when we did all of the tests, we discovered that it was amoeba and typhoid. The little money we get is spent on medication," said 55-year-old farmer and mother Penina Lizunela.

Penina is one of 210 people in Mahondo who depends on Henry Shisoko Spring for all of her daily water needs. But the spring is open to contamination, even after the community tried to protect it themselves many years back. The spring currently consists of just a few blocks of cement and a badly rusting discharge pipe.

The spring's catchment area, where the water originates underground, has gaping holes in it. The holes let surface runoff from the rains flow into the spring water, carrying farm chemicals, residues from animal waste, and dirt and soil directly with the water people fetch to drink. There is a definite odor to the water coming from the pipe, we noted during our visit.

When people contract waterborne and water-related illnesses from the spring water, they drain their finances on hospital visits and medications, like Penina. Time spent at home or in the hospital sick also means lost time at work for adults and at school for children.

More time is wasted at the spring waiting to fetch water since not all of the spring's natural yield is captured in the falling apart structure that remains. Many women begin fetching water as early as 5:00 am in an attempt to avoid the crowds. Otherwise, the lines delay their entire daily routines and they have to rush to the spring again in the evening to have enough water for cooking dinner.

"I have to wake up early to help my mother fetch water, and due to the many people at the spring, it makes me late going to school, which affects my performance," said young Laiza.

Mahondo community members practice both dairy and subsistence farming. At least every home has a dairy cow which they milk in the morning and again in the evening to sell in town. People plant crops like maize, beans, and groundnuts, the latter of which were being harvested during our last visit and hawked in town. Mahondo is unique due to its many rivers, providing people with another major occupation: harvesting sand to sell to other community members and villages.

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.

Project Updates

August, 2021: Henry Shisoko Spring Project Complete!

Mahondo Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Henry Shisoko Spring into a flowing source of water, thanks to your donation. Our team protected the spring and trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices, including COVID-19 prevention.

"This is the greatest gift we have received as a community after many years. Politicians have been promising to help, but they haven't done so. My life has already been impacted positively because I can attest that there are still good people. I love to farm. With the water that has been protected, it will be easy for me to do my house chores on time and get water quickly so I can be able to farm. We have been united as a family since the work needed teamwork and collaboration, which was highly seen. The access to reliable, clean, and safe water has brought us peace," said Pamela Mukhawa, a 37-year-old businesswoman.

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

"Access to reliable, clean, and safe water will impact my life positively. It will help me maintain cleanliness at home by washing my clothes with a lot of water. I will also be bathing twice a day, meaning that I will be clean. My school uniforms also will be well cleaned. With the staircases that have been put, it will be so easy and fast to fetch water; thus, the time I used to stay in the spring will be used for other important activities like revision (studying), especially when I am at home," said Sharlyn N.

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 rocks 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 the community members had prepared everything, 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.

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

At last, it was time to dig in at the spring! Locals lent their strength to the artisans each day to help with the manual labor. First, we cleared and excavated the spring area. Next, 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.

Excavation created space for setting the spring's foundation, which is 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.

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. This allows room for the average jerrycan (a 20-liter container) to sit beneath the pipe without making contact.

If we place the discharge pipe 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 clay is in short supply) and placed it at an incline to ensure water flows in the right direction.

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. This helps discourage people and animals from standing in that area, which could cause soil erosion and thus a clogged drainage area.

We then 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.

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 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.

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 rocks 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.

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. As soon as it was ready, people got the okay from our field officers to fetch water. We officially handed over the spring to community members and the village elders to mark the community's ownership of the water point. They thanked everyone who helped ensure the protection of the water point so they can have clean and safe water. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day, flowing in all directions.

Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19, and More

Due to the ongoing challenges and restrictions amidst the pandemic, we worked with 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 representative group of community members to attend training to relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

When the day arrived, facilitators Jemmimah, Olivia, Derrick, and Joan deployed to the site to lead the event. Eleven people attended the training, including self-help group members. The training took place at two different locations. We discussed maintenance and management at the spring, then moved to the home of one of the spring users. We sat under a tree outside to make it easy to observe COVID-19 regulations and protect us from the sun. Everyone had a comfortable seat and could listen to what was being taught.

Perhaps the most crucial 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 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; dental hygiene; the ten steps of handwashing; and how to make and use a tippy tap and leaky tin. In addition, 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 community members can use to start a group savings account for any future minor repairs to the spring and a cooperative lending group to enable members to develop small businesses.

"The training has been very valuable in that I have new knowledge added to what I knew. Apart from learning about kitchen gardening and its importance, I have been empowered and trained on how to make soap. This is very helpful, for I have been admiring and wishing to know how I can make it and where to get the chemicals. I can therefore say the training came in time. Being a business lady, I will be making my own soap to sell from my shop. This will increase my income," said Vivian Anyande.

When an issue arises concerning the spring, 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 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!

July, 2021: Henry Shisoko Spring Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Mahondo Community drains people's time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know this community through the introduction and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation, and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with more good news!

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: "Fetching water is easy!"

September, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mahondo 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!

Before Henry Shisoko Spring was protected last year, community members were often sick because of the dirty and contaminated water they collected.

"It was not good because the water was dirty and was filled with moss and insects and leaves and mud. We had to wait or sieve the water," said 13-year-old Collins O.

But now, after a year of access to clean water, things are different for community members. Not only are they healthier, but they have regained the valuable time they used to waste searching for and collecting water.

"Fetching water is easy because the water is clean, [it] flows directly from a pipe, and we can even drink it directly from the pipe," said Collins.

"[The spring] has reduced the time we spend going to get water because we no longer go to the other communities. We can also feed our cows directly as it is very clean," Collins concluded.

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 Mahondo 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 Mahondo 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.