Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 175 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/09/2024

Project Features

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Asakari Spring serves 175 people in Imbiakalo Community. This rural area is peaceful and far away from the main road, surrounded by vegetation and traditional houses. Most families here are Muslims, and farming is the primary livelihood. People plant crops, including potatoes, bananas, fruits, and vegetables, some of which they take to the nearest market to sell. Community members here will also hire their neighbors for casual jobs on each other's farms or businesses to help them earn an extra coin.

In its unprotected state, Askari Spring looks more like a shallow stream than a spring. The area is both rocky and muddy, with bushes on either side of the water.

"Our environment at the water point is not encouraging because you can easily slide and break your leg," said teenager Lilian Mayavi.

To fetch water, community members must either submerge their containers in the small pool of water or use smaller jugs and bowls to scoop water from the pool to pour into their larger jerrycans. Both ways bring the dirt and bacteria from people's containers directly into the water they are fetching. However, the process is time-consuming and contaminates the water even further.

The most common toxins in the water come from surface runoff after the rains, which carry farm chemicals, dirt, and animal waste straight to the spring. Animals frequently walk through the spring, drink directly from it, and leave their waste in the area. People will also wash off their feet and legs directly downstream of where others are fetching water, compromising the area's hygiene surrounding the waterpoint.

"We need to learn more about hygiene and sanitation from you because in this community, we are not maintaining hygiene, and it is risky for our lives," reported Wilbroda Injete, a 29-year-old farmer and mother in the community.

The combination of unsafe water and poor hygiene practices leads to a high rate of water-related illnesses among families who depend on Askari Spring for water. Time spent at home sick means less time at work, on the farm, and at school for community members. Waterborne diseases cost families the resources they would have spent on their businesses or children's school fees as they must redirect their money to pay for medical treatments when they are sick. The dirty water at the spring holds everyone back from reaching their full potential, regardless of age or occupation.

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: Askari Spring Project Complete!

Imbiakalo Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Askari 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.

A woman splashes water to celebrate protected Askari Spring.

"Access to reliable, safe water from this water point will enable me to maintain a healthy life compared to other years when I used to be sick. This water point is going to boost up my small hotel because there is enough water - the money that I used to buy water with will be used to expand my business," said Jane Ogada.

Jane Ogada

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

"First of all, I am going to improve in my studies because I have enough time to revise and perform well. Secondly, I say bye to waterborne diseases and changing to a healthy life," said a young Brian.

Brian fetches water at the spring.

"The water point will enable me to plant a vegetable garden at home, sprinkle it during the dry season, and then I will sell them and get cash and help my parents," Brian said.

Brian mounts his bucket on his head.

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.

Carrying bricks to the worksite

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.

Community members help mix mortar.

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.

Foundation setting

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.

Brick laying

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.

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.

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.

Plastering the stone pitching

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.


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.

Plastering the stairs

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.

Passing clay for backfilling

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.

Grass planting

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.

Clean water flows at completed Askari Spring.

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. The elders prayed and then people immediately started using the water. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day flowing in all directions.

Community members wave in thanks at the handing-over ceremony.

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.

Trainer Nelly teaches the ten steps of handwashing.

When the day arrived facilitators Rose Serete and Nelly Chebet deployed to the site to lead the event. Twelve people attended the training, which we held outside under the shade of trees at Mr. Shem Askari's homestead. The weather was condusive and community members we able to relax and enjoy the fresh air throughout the day. The location was also conveniently close to the spring for practical demonstrations requiring water.

Handwashing demonstration

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 also left behind a rice sack painted with messages of COVID-19 prevention reminders in the local language. We affixed the sign to the spring's fence during training and encouraged community members to use it as a daily reminder to stay cautious both at home and at the spring.

Dental hygiene session with alternative materials; here, a woman brushes her teeth using a soft stick and crushed charcoal.

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.

Shem Askari makes a leaky tin handwashing station and ties it to a tree for use.

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.

"The training was valuable to me because I have learned a lot, including how to brush my teeth and wash hands. I am going to start an income-generating activity now that I have enough water - I am going to make bricks and sell them," said Shem Askari, who is also the spring's elected Chair of the water user committee.

Doreen Shiundu

"The training was valuable to me because I have never seen anyone coming to train us since COVID-19 started. This knowledge is going to help fight diseases that are brought by poor hygiene," said Doreen Shiundu, the elected Secretary of the committee.

Dan enjoying water from the spring.

"The most helpful part was making a tippy tap and the ten steps of handwashing. The hygiene and sanitation steps we are going to take is that every home must have a handwashing facility with water and soap. Also, we should put on a mask always," Doreen said.

Blessing poses for a photo at 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: Askari Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Askari Spring is making people in Imbiakalo, 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: More Peace at Home!

May, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Imbiakalo Community 2.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Imbiakalo Community 2 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!

Noel M., age 11, shared what life was like for her before we protected Askari Spring last year.

"It was tiresome and time-wasting, especially during [the] rainy season. We would [be] forced to wait for [the] water to settle before drawing it," said Noel.

Not only did collecting water from the unprotected spring waste Noel's time, but it also caused her issues at home. "This would then bring conflict at home between children and parents thinking we were playing at the water point instead of collecting water," she said.

However, with simpler, quicker access to water, things have changed. "Now [collecting water] is easy and faster. We use less time to collect water than before, which gives us extra time to help our parents with other house chores," said Noel.

Noel continued, "It has helped me to spare time for my school revisions, which [I] have improved in my performance. It has also strengthened [a] good relationship between us children and our parents because we do house chores together."

With more peace at home and more time on her hands, hopefully, Noel's future will be brighter than ever.

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 Imbiakalo Community 2 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 Imbiakalo Community 2 – 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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