Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 130 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/04/2024

Project Features

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"This water point serves many people, yet the water is contaminated and unsafe for drinking. People fall sick frequently due to typhoid and diarrhea," said Joyna Wakukha, a farmer in Bukhakunga who depends on Wakukha Spring for water.

Joyna is 1 of 130 people here who depend on this water source, but her statement says it all: the water is unsafe.

In its unprotected state, Wakukha Spring amounts to no more than a large puddle with a muddy bottom and small rocky drawing point for people to stand on. Animals walk straight through the water, drinking from it and depositing waste around it. Children often dip their hands in to drink directly from the source before filling up their containers to head home. Dirt, farm chemicals, animal waste, and algae are the main contaminants in this water source.

The more people who draw water back to back, the more mud gets churned up into the water. This causes most people to try to fetch as early as possible each morning, but inevitably there is always someone before you in line. To fetch water, people must submerge their container in the pool of water, adding any dirt, bacteria, and germs on their jerrycans and hands directly into the water.

Drinking unsafe water leads to a high rate of waterborne diseases among community members, as Joyna said. When they or members of their families get sick, adults have to spend resources on medical treatment that were supposed to go toward their businesses, farms, or their children's school fees. And when they are sick, adults miss productive time at home and at work, and children miss out on school. Dirty water from Wakukha Spring is holding everyone back from reaching their full potential.

"I miss school frequently because of stomach upsets caused by drinking dirty water from the spring," said primary school student Abraham.

The spring's landowner Mr. Michael Wakukha said that there was a time when community members had gathered locally available materials for protecting their spring after someone else promised they were going to lead the work. But after the community's efforts getting ready, the person never showed up. Community members are now hopeful and happy that their spring really will be protected without any conditions.

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

September, 2021: Wakukha Spring Protection Project Complete!

Bukhakunga Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Wakukha 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.

"My family and I will no longer suffer from diarrhea and typhoid due to consumption of contaminated water," said 52-year-old housewife, Joyna Wakukha. "Time that was wasted scooping water from [the] unprotected spring will now be channeled into income-generating activities, which, in turn, will improve our economic status."

Joyna at the protected spring.

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

"Water from the spring is clean and safe for us to drink," said Abraham. "Since this spring was protected, I have been drinking water as many times as possible without the fear of getting sick. We will assist our parents to fetch water without the fear of slipping into the pool of water (especially when it rains)."

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.

Measuring the site.

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.

Michael Wakukha (the spring's namesake) and his family contributed the most toward this project. Although Michael is a man of few words, he could not hide his joy after the construction of the spring was done. He was happy that we had fulfilled our promise of protecting the spring on his farm.

Michael Wakukha at the completed 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 Christine Masinde and Samuel Simidi deployed to the site to lead the event. Eleven people attended the training, including five women and six men. We held the training at Michael Wakukha's compound, where there was plenty of room for participants to sit.

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.

"Topics under COVID-19 are very important to us since this virus has spread to villages," Michael said. "Everyone has to take necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the disease. We will avoid shaking hands, we will wear masks when in crowded places, wear masks properly, and wash hands frequently."

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 the most memorable topic because the participants were happy to have learned a new skill. One of the participants said she was going to embark on making and selling liquid soap in order to earn money to support her family.

"This training was well planned as it has touched on many issues that affect us day-to-day," said Fanice Indoshi, a local farmer and housewife (and also the water user committee's newly elected secretary). "We will surely lead a healthy lifestyle if we put what we have learned into practice."

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: Wakukha Spring Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Bukhakunga 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 am not giving up."

December, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Bukhakunga Community 7.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Bukhakunga Community 7 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 our intervention a year ago, the people of Bukhakunga were constantly ill from drinking their spring's dirty water.

"I used to get sick often and missed going to school, which affected my results negatively," explained 17-year-old Rose W. "At home, you could see panicking and stress all over my parents' faces whenever one [was] sick, just because sickness needs treatment and maybe there [would be] no money."

These things take time, of course - but things are steadily looking up for Rose and her family.

"[I] am now healthier than before and [I] have been working extra hard on my studies, which have slightly improved," Rose said. "But [I] am not giving up, and [this] is because [I] am no longer absent at school as I used to [be] whenever [I was] sick."

"This water point has put smiles on our faces again," said 25-year-old shopkeeper Sharon Achitsa, Rose's neighbor.

"Before, we used to have many cases of community members getting sick after drinking water from the unprotected spring, but now we stay healthy," Sharon continued. "Now, I have quality time with my family members to work on our farm plots. Before, we could not do hard chores because of our weak bodies, which resulted from consuming dirty water, but things have changed. Farming is our main source of income, and as you can see, I have enough foodstuff to feed my family members because [I] am healthy and I can work extra hard."

"Having reliable and safe water has helped in managing my time for extra studies while at home and also [has given me] time to assist my family members in farming activities whenever needed."

Sharon, left, and Rose, right, 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 Bukhakunga Community 7 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 Bukhakunga Community 7 – 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.


17 individual donor(s)