Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 315 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/05/2024

Project Features

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Please note: original photos were taken before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shianda Community neighbors a famous prayer mountain known as Ingolomosio. At the peak of this mountain is a prayer altar that was set aside to allow interdenominational Christian members within and without the county to gather and raise their voices to God. It is believed any prayer done on this mountain is normally answered. As I alighted at the shopping center, the motorcycle riders assumed we were going to the mountain to pray and came over immediately, hoping to get passengers. Unfortunately for them, we were heading to Aburil Spring in the village! But this was equally good news to them, and they gladly took us there.

Shianda is closely located to the Kambi ya Mwanza Shopping Center. Thus, as you alight at the shopping center, you see a lot of shops located on both sides along the busy Kakamega-Webuye Highway. After branching toward the community, you pass around 5 homesteads before reaching Aburil Spring. Their homes are both semi-permanent and permanent, with each home compound consisting of at least a main house, kitchen, dishrack, clothesline, and latrine. The homes are well kept with grass kept short and neat. As you go down to the spring you meet a rocky terrain on the farms and along the road.

Aburil Spring serves 315 people in this area. Apart from the household water users, the spring also serves the busy shops and hotel vendors along the shopping center. Thus, everyone comes early to get water  - as early as 5:00 am before dawn to avoid congestion. The hotel vendors likewise need water very early to prepare tea for early risers. This causes crowding as early as 6:00 am every day.

Women in this community understand the fact that delaying to go and fetch water will result in delaying all the daily chores and productive time. And to the hoteliers, delaying to fetch water means losing customers - and consequently, income - due to delays in food preparations. Some community members, especially those who live close by to the spring, opt to come at night when they are sure no one else will be there. The spring's poor state is affecting everyone who depends on it for water.

The main problems with Aburil Spring are its difficult access area, limited discharge, and poor water quality.

"I have grown up in this community and to us, getting clean water is a challenge. We suffered accessing water until my father, Aburil, tried to locally protect the spring. This, however, did not solve our problems. We still have congestion at this spring. We appeal for your help," said teenager Joel.

The spring's landowner, Mr. Aburil, tried to improvise a discharge pipe for the water to flow through in an effort to assist his community in accessing the water through an improved yield. The pipe, however, has not entirely solved the yield issues at the spring because not all of the water was tapped underground to flow into the pipe. There is still quite a lot of seepage around the pipe.

The pipe was also fixed too low in the ground, making it difficult to fetch water easily. This has resulted in congestion and overcrowding at the spring, which is why people try to stagger their collection times into the night and pre-dawn hours.

Because Aburil Spring is located on a gradual slope, during the rainy season accessibility becomes a challenge as the land around the spring turns slick with mud. The access area has a large and constant pool of water surrounding it because there is no drainage system. People have to stand in several inches of water to reach the discharge pipe, exposing themselves to dangerous insects and worms that bite them while they fill their jerrycans. Mothers cannot send their youngest children to help fetch water for fear they will get stuck in the mud or trip and drown in the standing water.

The spring's water is also contaminated with farm chemicals, animal waste, and other toxins carried directly into the spring by surface runoff. Dogs and other animals will frequently drink directly from the source, polluting the water. Community members report constant cases of coughs, stomachaches, and bacteria infections, especially among their children under 5.

Some community members have installed small plastic rain tanks, pots, or storage drums outside their homes to supplement their water supply during the rainy season. But when there are no rains, they still depend on Aburil Spring. The wait time only increases during such dry seasons at the spring, as it is known for its reliability in all seasons.

"It's like a dream to us that our spring will be protected. Many [people said] they would protect the spring for us, but this had been a lie for such a long time. Now we are relieved that this will be a thing of the past," said 48-year-old farmer and mother Rael Kenyatta.

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 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 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

October, 2021: Aburil Spring Project Complete!

Shianda Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Aburil 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.

"Our wives have been wasting a lot of time at the water point but from now onwards no time-wasting. Also, we will no longer be infected with waterborne diseases as before when using contaminated water," said Sammy Lumati.

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

"This will help improve on personal hygiene and environmental hygiene. I will be bathing twice a day and washing my clothes often," said 10-year-old Brenda K.

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.

The community members were very happy and promised to take good care of 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 to relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

When the day arrived, facilitators, Stella Inganji, Betty Muhongo, and Kristine Kayi deployed to the site to lead the event. Twenty-five (25) people attended the training, including village health volunteers. We held the training at Mama Hannah Aburil's compound under a tree.

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.

Soap-making was a popular session that attracted many attentive participants. One participant, Mrs. Judith Musisi said she is going to start a soap business immediately to help her raise her children's school fees.

Jackton Musisi, a 42-year-old farmer and chairman of the water user committee shared his experience, "The training has been good and more valuable. [I] have learned how to properly wash hands which will help me prevent contracting diseases. I will also make sure all of my family members know the ten steps."

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!

September, 2021: Aburil Spring Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Shianda 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: Taking Pride in Personal Hygiene

December, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Shianda Community 8.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shianda Community 8 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 we protected Aburil Spring in Shianda Community, community members struggled with water-related diseases and long lines at the spring.

"I personally could wake up very early in the morning to fetch water to avoid long lines of people at the water point," said 53-year-old animal farmer Jared Tala. "This was the only source that served the entire community. Even people from [the] market could come to fetch water [here], and this contributed to time wasting."

According to community members, the wet seasons were the worst time of year, when the entire spring would flood with dirty surface water. This also exacerbated people's difficulty in getting the water into their containers.

"During [the] rainy season, [the] water could overflow, causing contamination," Jared explained. "The point was full of water, hence fetching water was a big challenge, especially for children [who] could not access water easily. The entire area was not protected, allowing animals to access [it], which also contaminated the water. We had no stairs to access the source, which [made it] difficult for older people to collect water."

But now, with the water protected and the stairs granting easier access, all this has changed.

"This is a great new chapter in life, which has changed my life," Jared said. "[I] am really proud that I can take a bath twice a day [and] drink clean water. [I] am getting high production from [my] animals through drinking clean water. The entire hygiene standards have been improved, thus [we have] minimal health issues. This has given me enough time for working and ensuring my family gets [their] daily bread. My focus is to maintain high standards of hygiene within the community."

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 Shianda Community 8 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 Shianda Community 8 – 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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