Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 320 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 01/11/2024

Project Features

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Makale community members are large scale farmers who practice sugarcane farming as their main cash crop. Based in a rural set-up, most houses here are semi-permanent and grass-thatched with a majority not connected to electricity.

320 people in Makale depend on Banana spring as their only year-round source of water. For many years, community members have tried to protect the spring but it has never been fully accomplished. Without the needed materials and technical expertise for full spring protection, they have tried piecemeal cement and stone works but to no avail.

Water from Banana Spring is not fit for consumption as the catchment area and the water are open to contaminants. Because there is no cut-off drainage above or around the spring, most surface water drains into the spring. The runoff brings with it farm chemicals, residue from animal waste, and soil into the drinking water.

Despite their best efforts, community members are still collecting dirty water, and they continue to report cases of cholera and typhoid within the village.

"Water from our spring is not suitable for drinking unless treated. Twice I have been diagnosed with typhoid and this I relate to the water from the spring which I believe was contaminated," said 57-year-old farmer Jackson Wambunya.

The problem is, treating water costs families in ways most cannot afford. Boiling all water before drinking it requires collecting and using a lot of extra firewood and time spent over the stove for women. Market-bought water treatment options are financially out of reach for most families to have any access, let alone consistent access. Thus, the frequency of water-related diseases persists.

Cholera and typhoid, among other waterborne illnesses, are expensive to treat and they suck productive time and energy out of the ill. Adults miss work, and kids have to stay home from school, often falling behind in their lessons.

Because people are accessing the water from an open area where it pools, these contaminants also flow directly into the pool, not just underground where they mix with the groundwater feeding the spring. The frequent and heavy rains are especially problematic when they wash so much soil into the water that community members have to dig it out to find the pool again. Both the rain and the digging severely disturb the water, wasting people's time as they wait for the mud and sand to settle so they can begin fetching water again.

To fetch water, people either try to submerge their jerrycans in the shallow pool, or they use a small jug to scoop water to pour into their larger container. Both ways bring dirt and bacteria from the containers and peoples' hands into the very water they are collecting. These methods are also time-consuming, and even those who submerge their containers need to top them off using a jug.

Some community members wake up very early in the morning to go fetch water before doing anything else for fear of the large crowds that form during the day. The overcrowding and long wait times at the water point mean less time available for all of the days' other work and activities.

"My performance in classwork is below average as much time is spent fetching water from the spring, meaning I am not able to create time for my studies," reported primary school student Elizabeth.

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: Banana Spring Project Complete!

Makale Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Banana 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.

"Water being safe for drinking, I'm guaranteed good health. Cases of typhoid, cholera, and other infections related to water will now be a thing of the past. Accessibility of the water point is easy. This will help me make several trips to the water point to fetch water due to its accessibility. With enough water at home, I will be able to wash my clothes, clean my house, and bathe at least twice a day," said Taifa Andanya, a local businesswoman.

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

"From today [I] am guaranteed clean, safe water for drinking. Time wastage will now be a thing of the past as water collection is much faster. Before protection [of the spring], my parents found it difficult accessing the spring, forcing me to take the responsibility of fetching water for use at home. On various occasions, I used to abscond from school, affecting my academics. Now, my parents will be able to access the spring, allowing me ample time for my academics. I now see a bright future ahead of me," said James M.

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 mark the community's ownership of the water point. 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 Samuel Simidi, Stella Inganji, and Olivia Chebet deployed to the site to lead the event. Eighteen people attended the training, including several community-based leaders. We held the training at the home of one of the community members that allowed for social distancing and effective training with demonstrations while enjoying the shade.

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.

Leadership was a vital training topic to ensure the sustainability of the water point installed in the village. During the election stage for the Water User Committee, each position had at least 3 contestants, making the process vigorous and intense. The elected leaders and those who did not get elected promised to work closely with the management formed.

Mr. Solomon Ambunya, the newly elected chairman of the Water User Committee, commented, "Today's training has been enriching to the members of this community. The training will ensure that our members live a healthy life. Being taken through leadership, operations, and maintenance training will ensure that the spring's functionality is not compromised at any given time."

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: Banana Spring Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Makale 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: A Dream Realized

August, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Makale Community 4.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Makale Community 4 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!

"It was so hard getting water, especially during the dry seasons since the demand was so high and people used to be inconsiderate with the water," said 14-year-old Felix M. when describing what life was like before his community's spring was protected last year.

But things have changed for Felix since then.

"Water is now easily available and accessible at any time. Even during the dry spells, the water is always available," said Felix. "This has made me to take good care of our livestock so well by supplying them with [the] water [they need] on time. I am [now] able to embrace good hygiene and sanitation practices when at home and at school too."

Since Felix can easily fetch water, he is putting energy into some special projects that he dreamed of doing.

"When growing up, [I] had an idea of planting trees around our homestead so that it may beautify our home. With the ease of fetching water, I have been able to better manage the flower hedge at home, and [I am] hoping to plant a tree soon," concluded Felix.

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 Makale Community 4 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 Makale Community 4 – 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.


2 individual donor(s)