Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 147 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Dec 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 09/06/2023

Project Features

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147 in Kalenda A Community depend on Sanya Spring as their closest and only year-round water source. In Kalenda A, most people work as maize farmers and a few are small business owners that run salons and barbershops. Most of the community's maize is sold to the nearby St. Marygoret Kalenda Girls' Secondary School for their daily meal program. The roads leading in and out of the village are muddy and almost impassable during this rainy season.

Unprotected Sanya Spring is riddled with problems. The spring is open to contamination from several sources. As an open pool of water, runoff from the rains carry farm chemicals, residues from animal waste, and soil directly into the water. Inside the spring, the water is full of frogs, algae, insects, and rotting leaves at the bottom.

The water has a milky color to it, which gets worse after it rains. Because people must submerge their containers into the pool to fetch water, they are also adding any dirt and bacteria from their jerrycans and hands into the water.

"I have to sieve the water so as to get rid of the algae and frogs, then spend money to buy water treatment," said 32-year-old Peris Sanya, who runs a hair salon out of her home.

But water treatment has costs most families cannot afford. Boiling all water before use requires women and girls to spend a lot of extra time collecting and using firewood and watching the water in the kitchen. Market-purchased treatments are often out of reach financially for families. As a result, most people still drink the spring water untreated.

Community members here reported frequent cases of diarrhea and stomachaches after drinking the spring water. There is a high rate of typhoid across the village as well.

Community members have to fetch water either very early in the morning or late in the evening due to the constant congestion since it is not easy or quick to fetch water. Time lost at the spring affects their daily schedule as people lose time for their other activities and can fail to meet their daily targets at work or on the farm.

Accessibility is another major issue at the spring. The place is rocky and slick with mud. Community members placed some stones at the water's edge to balance on while fetching water, but these are slippery. Sometimes people's toes and shoes dip into the water by accident. Children are most at risk of falling into the open water source while trying to pull up their filled containers, though adults sometimes fall, too.

"When fetching water, we slide on the slippery rocks which have caused wounds on me," said Branclyine, a young primary school-aged girl.

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

December, 2021: Sanya Spring Protection Complete!

Kalenda A Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Sanya 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.

Local hairdresser Peris S., 33, has new and improved plans for her future now. "[I] am so happy because the protection of this spring will reduce waterborne diseases in our community. Also, accessibility will be easier and this will save time when collecting water."

Peris filling a jerrycan.

"I will have enough time to attend to my customers and make enough income for my family," Peris continued. "Also, I will be able to do more farming activities like vegetable planting because I have enough water throughout the year."

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

Branciline, Peris's daughter, explained the water crises the community was facing before. "Initially, a lot of time was wasted at the water point, especially during dry seasons when all other springs around had no water," said Branciline S., 11. "We would queue for [a] long time just to wait for the water to clear up before drawing. This will save on time wasted before."

We asked Branciline how her life will be different now that the spring is protected. "Since I will use the shortest time possible [fetching water], I will be able to help my parents with other chores at home and have time for revision (studying) and homework, which will lead to improvement in my academic performance."

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.

Happy community members fetching water for the first time.

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 could not hide their joy after seeing clean water flowing from the newly completed spring. They uttered many words of blessings to everyone who contributed to this project.

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 and Betty Muhongo deployed to the site to lead the event. Ten people attended the training, including six women and four men.

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.

"The most helpful part was how to make my own mask at home using old pieces of clothes," said Emily Serengo, 40, the new water user committee's treasurer.

Emily after the training.

"I will [be] able to save the money for other uses," Emily continued. "I have spent a lot of money buying masks for my children, who are in ECD (Early Childhood Development) classes. Whenever they come back home, they need a new mask just because they lost the one they had. [I] am very happy because I will not buy masks again."

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.

"The training has been so educative to me because there are a lot of things that I did not put in consideration," said Daniel Samwai, 48, a farmer and the water user committee's secretary. "For instance, toothbrushing and proper handwashing. With this knowledge, I will be able to raise the living standards of my family in teams of hygiene and sanitation."

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 community members who were able to attend the training promised to share the information with other members," Emily concluded. "We shall ensure that we make our masks and put them on whenever we go out of our homes. Secondly, we will ensure in every homestead there will be a handwashing station with soap and clean water."

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!

November, 2021: Sanya Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Sanya Spring is making people in Kalenda A Community 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: "Water is safe for me to drink"

January, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Kalenda Community 4.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kalenda Community 4 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!

A year ago, regardless of how carefully community members in Kalenda collected water from Sanya Spring, they still had to sieve it. And although the water looked cleaner, it was still contaminated and made them ill.

"It has not been [an] uneasy journey to me. I used to crouch when [I] was fetching water, and this caused contamination of [the] water. [The] water could take much time before settling down, and you could see waste products floating on [the] water surface. [The] collecting space was not enough, and [it was] muddy," said 14-year-old Purity S.

But last year, the spring was protected, and now collecting water is much easier and quicker. And best of all, the collected water no longer makes people sick.

"Accessing water [does not have the] challenges that we used to have. I can collect several containers at a time and also, and many people can fetch water without wasting time. [The] water is safe for me to drink. [I am] bathing and washing clothes without seeing stains," said Purity.

"My health has positively improved compared to the past, [and] this has really contributed to my academic performance in school. One of the achievements is not missing my morning preps and also ensuring the time set for studies is being followed," concluded Purity.

With less time spent collecting water and more time studying, Purity's future looks bright.

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 Kalenda Community 4 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 Kalenda Community 4 – 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.


Ukiah Bunn - Great Northwest Insurance Brokers
Spring Hill Manufacturing / UAW Local 1853 Campaign for Water
5 individual donor(s)