Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 210 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/05/2024

Project Features

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The Muyundi area is a gently sloping land where a majority of the homes are semi-permanent in nature and most farms include sugarcane plantations. In addition to sugarcane farming, people also raise dairy cattle and poultry. This community is known for football playing among both young adults and children. The roads to Muyundi are full of motorcycle taxis transporting people, and tractors ferrying sugarcane to the sugar processing companies.

210 people here depend on Magana Spring for water, but the unprotected spring's water is not safe for human consumption. Contaminants from surface water after the rains mixes with the spring water, bringing farm chemicals, residues from animal waste, and dirt into the water people drink.

Their inability to access clean water leads to many people contracting waterborne and water-related diseases which leave them unable to attend to their duties or work. Hospital visits and medications are expensive, draining families of their financial resources while they try to recover. And for children, each time they are sick means missed classes and falling behind their classmates at school.

Community members say typhoid is their most commonly contracted illness among families who depend on this spring for water.

"My family has been a victim of typhoid after consuming water from the spring, and this has caused me to use a lot of resources to cater to our medications," recalled 57-year-old John Magana, a retired teacher in the community.

"Getting sick due to drinking dirty water has sometimes rendered me incapable of assisting my mum with house chores duties, and it has affected my studies a lot," added young Moses.

Accessing the spring is another challenge. The narrow drawing point requires people to stand in a puddle of mud and water several inches deep. To fetch water, community members improvised a discharge pipe by lodging one directly into the earth near where the water comes to the ground's surface.

The community tried to secure the pipe by wedging it into place using rocks, mud, a tree root, and even an old toy ball. Still, heavy rains or an accidental bump from someone's jerrycan while fetching often dislodge the pipe, dirtying the water in the process with all of the dirt and sand that comes loose. In these cases, people have to wait even longer for the water to settle before they can begin fetching it again.

The pipe is also very low to the muddy puddle beneath it. People try to keep their jerrycans at an angle to fit them under the pipe, but as they get heavier while filling, they sometimes sink low enough in the puddle that the puddle water enters their containers. This is especially true for children, who are so often tasked with helping to fetch water for or with their mothers.

Some women try to get to the spring as early as 6:30 am to avoid the lines and dirtier water later in the day, but both seem inevitable.

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

June, 2021: Magana Spring Project Complete!

Muyundi Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Magana 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.

Community members are very appreciative and excited to have access to clean, safe water along with having acquired knowledge and skills regarding sanitation.

Joseph Chiloi, a local farmer, shared, "The quality of water accessed now is going to reduce waterborne diseases and promote proper time management as it's easy to access water. Unity was also created as community members participated well together in the spring implementation. The group formed during the training is already strategizing on how to come up with development projects that are going to help improve the livelihoods of every family represented."

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

"My health standards are going to drastically improve, and this means the rate of my school absenteeism will also reduce, leading to better academic performance," said Ephraim.

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 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.

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.

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. 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 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 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 discourage people and animals from standing on that area, which could cause soil erosion and thus a clogged drainage area.

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.

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 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.

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 directly following training to mark the community's ownership of the water point. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day flowing in all directions.

Every community member who had come to fetch water was excited to have the freedom to use their protected water source.

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 Jacklyne Chelagat and Sachita Valian deployed to the site to lead the event. Fifteen people attended the training, including village health volunteers. We held the training adjacent to the spring site under some indigenous trees. The shade and cool air made it a comfortable site for the training.

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 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 knowledge and skills acquired on sound sanitation and hygiene practices will help boost the health standards of my family," reported Catherine Magana, the spring's elected Secretary.

"The training came in handy. I have acquired great knowledge and skills that will eradicate water-related and sanitation health problems," said Jacktone, a young male participant.

"The leaders of the water committee were elected amongst the participants in attendance that seemed to have the matters of the spring at heart. Onsite training was provided about the maintenance of the spring, and every participant promised to comply with the well-stated rules. They immediately passed a rule that a fine of Ksh. 500 (Kenyan Shilling, local currency) will be collected from anyone found breaking the well-laid rules," noted facilitator Jacklyne Chelagat.

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!

May, 2021: Magana Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Magana Spring is making people in Muyundi, 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: "People are living as one."

June, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Muyundi 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!

"My family has been a victim of typhoid after consuming water from the spring, and this has caused me to use a lot of resources to cater to our medications," said John Magana, Chairman of Muyundi community's Water User Committee.

"The initial situation was terrible. During [the] rainy season, there was a lot of dirt getting into the water rendering it more unfit for consumption. Drawing water with [a] cup was exhausting and time-consuming. The long queues due to [our] high population also wasted time. The water source was so open and both domestic and wild animals were accessing it."

But since the spring's protection last year, things have been different for John and his family, as well as other community members.

"Drawing water is faster and easy. We use very minimal time in fetching water. This has led to more developments in the community," said John.

"[The] protection of the spring and [the] installation of [the] chlorine dispenser has contributed positively to my health. I no longer visit dispensaries to get medication. My health is secured—that, [I] am guaranteed."

He concluded, "I was yearning to see community members live in peace and unity. [The] protection of the spring has helped achieve this. People are living as one and helping each other in terms of need."

John 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 Muyundi 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 Muyundi Community 4 – and hundreds of other places just like this – is by joining our community of monthly givers.

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