Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 210 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/05/2024

Project Features

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"We have really suffered, especially considering during the rainy season, our water gets contaminated and gets filled up with debris. This has long been a cause of diarrhea, especially amongst the children," said Rophine Wekoye, a 46-year-old farmer and mother in Shianda.

"Whenever it rains, accessing the spring becomes difficult as the area becomes slippery. We also have a fish pond downstream, and whenever the water gets contaminated, we sometimes lose our fish due to deaths. This leads to reduced productivity, hence immense losses."

The spring Rophine refers to is Mwinami Spring, where 210 people in Shianda go for their daily water needs. But the spring is in abysmal shape and looks like a shallow muddy puddle at best.

To fetch water at the spring, community members must submerge their entire jerrycan directly into the water. This brings into the water any dirt or bacteria on the container or people's hands. Because the area is slick with mud, sometimes their feet slide in as well, or they are forced to step into the water to reach a deep enough place to submerge their jerrycan.

Since the spring water gets churned up with the mud and rotten leaves at the bottom whenever several people fetch it, many people resolve to come to the spring as early as 5:00 am to fetch the cleanest water possible. Those who delay going to the spring will have their day drag on as they wait in long lines. Consequently, they will also be late in making breakfast for their families and going to their farms or other jobs.

During the day, a few more trips are made to the spring to get water for watering the animals, doing the dishes, bathing, cooking dinner, and of course, drinking. Though some families have installed rain tanks in their homes to supplement the spring water during the rainy season, they are completely dependent on Mwinami Spring for water during the dry season. Crowding due to the tedious process at the spring gets worse.

But regardless of the time of day, the spring water is always contaminated. Surface runoff from the rains carries soil, farm chemicals, and animal waste, among other toxins. Dogs and other animals drink directly from the same pool of water community members have to dunk their jerrycans into. The rate of water-related diseases, as Rohpine noted, is high.

Access is the other major challenge at Mwinami Spring.

"Our spring has always been dangerous and risky, especially whenever it rains. It becomes slippery and very dangerous, especially to us children," said Mitchell, a primary school-aged girl.

Life in Shianda

The area around this community is beautiful and green. As you enter Shianda, you are met with a green vegetation cover of sugarcane, bananas, nappier grass, and forests. Houses are both semi-permanent and permanent. The road off of the Kakamega-Webuye Highway to Mwinami Spring is made of packed gravel and clay. There is a small forest on one side.

Shianda is an agricultural zone. Sugarcane farming as a cash crop dominates the area. Fish farming is also done purely for business, and a majority of the community members are fish farmers. On the other hand, brick making is also a common enterprise here, and many earn their livelihoods from these activities. Finally, several people here are dairy farmers. They earn a living by selling milk and even cows whenever the number in their herds increase.

Shianda borders the Malava Forest on the right side. Monkeys from the forest are notorious for coming down to Shianda to search for food. Whenever the monkeys cannot find food, they get agitated and wreak havoc on the community's farms, uprooting all of their nappier grass or anything grown in the fields, ruining it. The Shianda community also has a sacred forest that they use for traditional celebrations.

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 community's female members by freeing up more of their time and energy to engage and invest in income-generating activities and 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 ensure participants have the knowledge they need about healthy practices and their importance to make the most of their water points as soon as the water is flowing.

Our team of facilitators will use a variety of methods to train community members. These methods include participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation, asset-based community development, group discussions, handouts, and demonstrations in 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 forming a water user committee, elected by their peers, to 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

October, 2021: Mwinami Spring Project Complete!

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

"At my house, I do not take other water for drinking apart from the spring water. So many times, [I] have been drinking the contaminated water. This is now going to change, and my health will be better," said Elkana Mwinami, a 56-year-old farmer.

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

"From now onwards, my health will be good and no more missing school because of waterborne diseases. It will also save [me] time for collecting water now that accessibility has become easier," said Benson I., age 13.

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 immediately after completion to mark the community's ownership of the water point. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day, flowing in all directions, particularly from the very excited community members.

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. Mama Betina Musee, the wife of the landowner where the spring is located, helped mobilize participants for the training by going door to door. 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 and Betty Muhongo deployed to the site to lead the event. Twelve people attended the training, including village health volunteers. We held the training under a shade tree at Mr. Elkana Mwinami's homestead.

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 was done professionally and will help a lot. [I now] know how to make soap, so I am going to make my own. I will be distributing [it] to schools around here and at the hospital to get money," said Mildred Khalechi, a 43-year-old housewife and the treasurer of the newly formed water committee.

Dental hygiene was the most memorable session of the training. During the session, one of the participants mentioned that she only brushed her teeth once a day. A lively discussion amongst participants ended with everyone agreeing that they needed to brush their teeth at least twice a day after meals, and they all committed to change.

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: Mwinami 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: "I can smile and laugh."

January, 2023

A year ago, your generous donation helped Shianda Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Vivian. 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 9.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shianda Community 9 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!

Last year, Mwinami Spring was difficult to access safely and its water was contaminated, causing people to become ill with water-related illnesses.

"Life has not been easy [for] me," said 13-year-old Vivian S. "I used to carry jerrycans for collecting water, [and the] drawing point [would be] full of water, which made it uneasy to access. Much time was wasted during fetching, and more so, [the] water was not safe for drinking. More so, [my] parents used to spend more [money] on medication thus, we couldn't develop [things]."

But after we helped protect the spring last year, it is now safe and quick to access water. Since then, things have been different for Vivian.

"I can smile and laugh, [and] have [a] joyful face [while] accessing clean, safe water. This has really enabled me to save time, do homework and even help my parents in doing manual work. No more sickness, which affected me most of [the] time and contributed [to] absenteeism," concluded Vivian.

Vivian 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 Shianda Community 9 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 9 – 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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