Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 210 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/10/2024

Project Features

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"This water is helping us a lot in many things; unfortunately, for drinking, it is not good at all," said teenager Njeri of Shirandula Spring.

Njeri lives in Makhwabuye where she is 1 of 210 people in her community who relies on Shirandula Spring as the closest and only year-round water source. But in its unprotected state, the spring water is open to many different sources of contamination and it is difficult to access.

The environment in and around the spring is not hygienic. The spring collection area looks like a large puddle in a muddy trench several feet below the rest of the surrounding land. From where the spring water comes to the ground's surface to the area people collect it, the water is filled with algae, moss, rotting dead leaves, mud, and insects. Runoff from the rains carries farm chemicals, residues from animal waste, and soil directly into the water.

To fetch water, people must submerge their entire jerrycan or small jugs to then pour into the larger containers to fill them up. This action further contaminates the water by bringing any dirt and bacteria that were on their hands and jerrycans into the water they fetch.

If people scoop the water too quickly, or if people try to fetch water too closely back to back, they stir up the mud and other debris at the bottom of the pooled water into their jerrycans. This results in both dirtier water and long lines that waste people's productive time while waiting for a turn to fetch water.

Community members report a high rate of waterborne and water-related illnesses among families who depend on Shirandula Spring. The most common diseases include typhoid, diarrhea, and cholera, in addition to stomachaches most commonly reported among children.

"I have suffered for a long period of time with my child who has been sickly of stomach pains. When she came back from hospital, she was diagnosed with dysentery which drained us financially and also drained her health," explained Milton Shirandula, a farmer and father in the community. He is also the spring's landowner.

Water-related illnesses are costly to treat. Financial instability is therefore a major side effect of consuming the dirty spring water as people must spend the daily money they earn from their casual labor jobs on medication and hospital visits. Those who can afford medical treatment are considered lucky; many cannot and risk their health and their lives while their illnesses drag out. Even with medicine, sometimes people lose weeks to being sick.

When community members contract water-related illnesses, it takes them away from their daily activities. For adults, that means less productive time and less income-earning time. For children, that means staying home from school and often falling behind their classmates.

"Since I was diagnosed with typhoid, I stopped drinking [the spring water] because it cost me my studies. I was on and off at school and this really made me drop [in performance]," recalled Njeri, who is a secondary school student.

Accessibility is the other major concern at the spring. To reach the pooled spring water, community members built a small wooden bridge over the trench full of water. To get on and off the bridge, they also dug stairs into the earth to help ease the transition. Both the bridge and stairs become slippery as water inevitably splashes on them with each person that fetches water.

Because the water level changes depending on the rains, the bridge is sometimes quite high over the water. This forces community members to squat and reach far down for the water. For the elderly, young children, and women who are pregnant, this particular feat often makes the task impossible for them.

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

November, 2021: Shirandula Spring Protection Complete!

Makhwabuye Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Shirandula 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.

"Access to reliable, safe water will help me save lots of time. Initially, I lost time taking members of my household to the hospital mainly due to diarrhea diseases. With the clean and safe water, I'll have my kitchen garden up and running again, thus saving some coins for other investments," said Daisy Kandie.

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

"It [the new protected spring] will impact my life positively. I will invest most of my time studying since common water-related and waterborne illnesses will be history in my life and my family as a whole," said Jeff, age 12.

Not only are Jeff's studies going to improve, but he also has farming plans to help his family. "I had been trying to do kitchen gardening before the water point protection began but it was not successful. Sometimes the water point would get so discouragingly muddy that I would miss watering my vegetables and they ended up drying. This time around, I hope I will succeed and this will improve our family's income."

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.

A young boy digs for sand for the project.

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.

Community members make gravel.

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.

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, Jemmimah Khasoa, Victor Musemi, and Mercy Kirui deployed to the site to lead the event. When they arrived, no one was at the training site, so they ended up going door to door to remind participants and encourage them to move to the training site, a few meters from the spring. Fourteen (14) people ended up attending the training, including 7 men and 7 women.

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.

"The training was very valuable because the message on what COVID-19 is, its modes of transmission, and methods of prevention were made simple in the local dialect. We were informed on what to do should anyone of us or our households get covid related signs. Myths and misconceptions about covid were also well elaborated on," shared participant, Daisy Kandie.

Another top priority training session was on alcoholism and its effects because this community struggles with a high incidence of alcohol abuse, especially amongst men. Community members reported that to them it is normal for even newborns to have a taste of alcohol shortly after birth to welcome them to the family and many claimed the misconception that alcohol with its bitterness helps in preventing viruses like COVID-19 and the common flu.

Daisy Kandie.

Hopefully, our training session will empower those feeling the effects of alcoholism in their daily life, like Daisy. She shared, "The training was very valuable to me in many ways. Before the field officer came with the project proposal to our community, I among other women, used to just stay at home waiting to be supported by our husbands in all that we needed. Which sometimes came with lots of pain and regrets, since most of our men are into alcohol consumption so they bring little to nothing to the table. The new knowledge I have acquired will help me be independent financially, since I can now make soap that I will sell and earn a living."

We also held a session on water handling and treatment. Community members reported that that they never knew water could be treated by keeping it in the sun rather than with chemicals. They marveled at how that method was cost-effective and promised to make it their top method of treating their water.

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.

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: Shirandula Spring Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Makhwabuyu 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: "Getting water from this water point has become so enjoyable."

March, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Makhwabuye 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!

Before we protected Makhwabuyu Community's spring last year, community members had the tiresome chore of collecting water from unprotected sources that often left them suffering with water-related illnesses.

"We were very worried about the safety of the water. There were algae everywhere in the water. The dogs and cows were drinking [from] the same pond," said 13-year-old Cynthia A.

But once the spring was protected, things changed for community members.

"Getting water from this water point has become so enjoyable. Sometimes we collect water for home use before heading to school, and I am never worried of getting to school [late] because fetching water has become so fast and quick," said Cynthia.

With water collection being faster, hygiene and sanitation practices also became easier for community members.

"Improved cleanliness of self and that of my family [and] improved health [with] low cases of water-related diseases have been recorded," concluded Cynthia.

Cynthia (in pink) waiting to collect water.

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 Makhwabuye 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 Makhwabuye 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.