Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 220 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/20/2024

Project Features

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The Elwichi Community is situated in a quiet part of Malava. Walking into the community, one already feels the calm and the sudden change in the way people interact. Elwichi community members are calm and quiet. From the way they talk to how they handle their businesses, they do not seem to be in haste as their neighbors do.

Here, birds, animals, trees, children, and a few elders conversing are the only sounds you will hear. Most of the houses here are mud-walled with iron sheets as roofs. Community members have also coated their walls with cow dung for beautification. Here, farmers make up most of the community, with a few people working as casual laborers. A few others own small businesses selling their farm produce and other products.

220 community members in Elwichi fetch their water from Mulunda Spring, but the spring falls short of being a safe water point in several ways. First, the waterpoint is open and is always covered in leaves and grass. Second, moss and algae are growing inside and on the water's surface, forming a green carpet-like layer. Third, small animals like toads call the water home, in addition to insects, mosquitoes, and bacteria that harbor dangerous diseases, including malaria. However, it is easy to access and does not dry up; the water itself is a health hazard.

For people to use the spring water for drinking, they use the solar disinfection method to treat it. But this treatment requires several hours of direct sun and someone to stand guard to be sure no animal or person contaminates it in the process. Nonetheless, the water is almost always contaminated. A community member - usually a child - has to keep watch over the water to keep away animals and birds from dipping in it. If a child is not present, an older adult has to stand guard. The containers that hold the water are full of their own dirt and algae, and the method proves to be very ineffective as people still get sick.

3 community members whom we spoke to at the spring, Dora, Ruth, and Henry, all complained of having stomach upsets and severe diarrhea and vomiting whenever they drank water directly from the waterpoint. They said the doctor confirmed their cases related to typhoid, dysentery, and malaria, all likely originating because of the spring water.

"This water is good. It is good because it is there throughout the year. But it is risky water. One time I was diagnosed with typhoid, and my children had to take care of me for close to a week, forcing them out of school. This water has also cost me a cow almost every year, and especially during the dry season because we rely on it for everything," said Dora Musochi, a 37-year-old farmer, businessperson, and mother in Elwichi.

These same illnesses among the families who use this spring have led to a loss of family finances due to their medical bills and livestock loss, as Dora mentioned. Time spent at home or in the hospital while sick also disrupts routines, leading to fewer productive hours and less income earned among adults. On the other hand, children have to stay home from school and often end up falling behind in their lessons.

"My mom fell ill of a stomach upset, and we had to stay home to take care of her for a week. Our teachers scolded us when we returned to school," recalled young primary school-aged Blessing, Dora's daughter.

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. Therefore, protecting the spring and offering training and support will 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 training 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, which 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 to 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 the 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 handling, storing, and treating water. Having a clean water source will be extremely helpful, but it is useless if water gets contaminated by the time it is consumed. The community and we 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 training 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 spring's operations and maintenance. 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

April, 2021: Mulunda Spring Project Complete!

Elwichi Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Mulunda 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.

Community members celebrate the completed spring.

"The impact is visible just from this point. Everyone is happy and I too am glad. I drink from this source and I have not been 100% sure if the water was safe for consumption. Now it is protected, a lot of waterborne diseases will be prevented and no leaves will fall and float on the water again," said Dora Musotsi, the spring's elected Secretary and the driving force behind her community's engagement with our team to accomplish this project.

"I am able to provide safe water for my family. The water point being protected, to me, is a goal met and I will continue to flourish hygienically."

Dora takes a drink from the spring.

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

"I can carry my own drinking water to school to drink when I feel like. I can share with my friends with confidence that it is coming from a safe source and is safe for consumption," said young Victor.

"It is easy to fetch water and take it home, unlike other days when we had to queue and fetch while using our jugs. Time will be well-utilized and I will have some time for general cleaning and homework."

Victor enjoys the flowing water.

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.

Delivering materials by hand

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.

Delivering materials by cattle-pulled cart

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.

Excavating the drainage channel

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.

Setting 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.

Brick laying

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.

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.

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.

Kids look on as the artisan plasters the spring's headwall and wing walls.

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.

Stairs construction

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.

Setting the tiles

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 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 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.

Planting grass

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. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day flowing in all directions.

A girl takes a drink from the spring.

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, who will relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

When the day arrived facilitators Amos Emisiko and Ian Nakitare deployed to the site to lead the event. Nineteen people attended the training, including the local Village Health Volunteer. We held the training under some Cyprus trees at the home of Madam Dora, who helped mobilize people to attend the event. The trees provided a cool and conducive environment for the training as the day was very hot and sunny.

Training in session

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.

Girls demonstrate 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; 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 a community savings account for any future minor repairs to the spring and a cooperative lending group to enable members to develop small businesses.

On-site training at the spring

Operation and maintenance of the spring was the most memorable session. During this topic, a kid from the neighborhood came with a piece of sugarcane near the spring without the knowledge that it went against the environmental hygiene lesson that teaches keeping food waste away from the water source. One of the community members in charge of cleaning the spring shouted at her like a roaring lioness! The kid looked sorry and ran away without even wanting to know who was talking, giving all of the adults a chuckle.

The handwashing demonstration was another special moment. The facilitator instructed the water holder to behave like a tap, meaning their only job was to pour the water out for the handwashing demonstrator. This made the participants laugh loudly.

Responding to the training

"Allow me to start with thanks to you and your organization. This training is great and healthy for us. You have taught good things about hygiene. This training has equipped us with vast knowledge. I am going to teach my children, especially the handwashing techniques and dental hygiene, the way you have taught us," said Dora Musotsi, the spring's elected Secretary and the community's main mobilizer.

Dora (left) and another woman pose at the spring.

"You can see a smile on my face revealing the joy I have deep in my heart. It is wonderful and great to have acquired such skills. I have learned a lot and I am going to teach my friends and family at large," Mark Wamondo, the spring's elected Chair, agreed.

"We always put on our face masks, especially when going to crowded places like the market. We ensure our children wear face masks when going to school, we keep social distance, and we always wash our hands with soap and water. But washing hands is not enough to stop COVID-19. We need to employ all that you have taught us, especially practicing respiratory hygiene like sneezing in the elbow," Mark added.

Mark Wamando washes his hands at the spring.

"We need to empower children and some of us who were not here with this knowledge. We will set handwashing stations in our home entries to ensure we wash our hands frequently. We are human beings, so we must be worried, but I am confident we will conquer. God has been faithful and if we continue following all the protocols given by the heath practitioners and what you have also taught us, I believe we will win this war against COVID," Mark said.

Victor makes a splash to celebrate the spring.

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 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!

March, 2021: Mulunda Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Mulunda Spring is making people in Elwichi, 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: Community is Economically Empowered!

April, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Elwichi 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!

Faith Awinja, a 35-year-old farmer and the secretary of the water user committee for Mulunda Spring, shared what she and others in her community faced before their spring was protected last year.  "We really faced challenges concerning access to clean water. Much time [was] wasted looking for clean water. Even [the] fetching process was a big challenge [because] people could collect water at different points, which contributed to contamination."

But since the spring's protection, things have improved for people living in Elwichi.

"The hygiene standards have improved among the community members, [and] this has reduced infections caused by waterborne diseases," said Faith.

"Economically, we are empowered. Our business[es] are running effectively without time-wasting, empowering the community through agribusiness. This is due to enough time for work and also easy access to clean, safe water," remarked Faith.

Note: Monitoring and maintenance are important at The Water Project. A few weeks ago, we found the spring has water functionality issues during a monitoring visit. Rest assured, we are investigating the problem and will do our best to deal with it quickly.

Faith and other community members at the 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 Elwichi 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 Elwichi 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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