Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 210 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/03/2024

Project Features

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Makhwabuye Community is in a rural setup whereby roads are untarmacked, some houses are semi-permanent, and others are grass-thatched. The area is evergreen, with farming shaping the landscape. The most common livelihood here is agribusiness, with many community members planting crops such as yams, sweet potatoes, vegetables, and maize. They use their crops for their consumption and sale. The village is peaceful and quiet, away from the noise of vehicles and even motorbikes.

Within Makhwabuye, 210 people depend on Sayia Spring for all of their daily water needs. Many community members have the habit of getting water very early in the morning before doing other house chores.

Prisca Luvonga, a 36-year-old businessperson and mother in the village, said she has to wake up very early to fetch way every day. She leaves her infant in the house while she is still sleeping and walks to fetch water from the spring. She says the water is cleanest at this time, and there is not always so much of a crowd as later in the morning. But there are a lot of problems with the spring once you arrive.

Sayia Spring is open to the environment, leaving it susceptible to all sorts of contamination. This makes its water unsafe for community members. Because the spring is on a gradual slope, surface runoff from the rains carry dirt from uphill directly into the water, along with farm chemicals, animal waste, and other toxins.

Apart from dirt and contaminants carried into the spring, drawing water contributes to making the water dirty. This is because people have to submerge their containers down to the ground within the spring, which looks like a shallow stream. If the water is too shallow to fill their jerrycan, they must then top it off using small jugs and bowls to scoop the water from the spring to pour into their larger jerrycan. Having to dip any container directly into the water brings all of the dirt and bacteria on the jerrycans and peoples' hands straight into the water they collect for use.

"Getting water from this water point is very tiresome, difficult, and time-consuming. This is because it is not easily accessed, for it does not have a staircase, and we scoop it into containers. This makes our productivity reduced for when you begin your day late, then performance also becomes low," explained Prisca.

Community members have tried to establish a small plank of wood to help them stay out of the water while fetching it, but the plank often and quickly rots, leaving people uneasy no matter how many times they replace the board. Mothers are fearful of sending their youngest children to the spring if the board should break, and they fall in, getting hurt or possibly drowning.

"Being a business lady, it will be beneficial when our water is protected, for I can even send children to get water as I do other chores. Currently, I cannot risk my children for it is not safe and easy for them to get water," Prisca added.

The negative consequences of having insufficient clean and safe water range from fetching water being a time-consuming task to financial instability and lack of productive time. Because Sayia Spring is difficult to access, people spend a lot of time waiting in line as person after person scoops their container full. Their daily routines are delayed, reducing the amount of work and income-earning hours for adults and time for play and homework among children.

Contaminated water and the resulting poor sanitation practices are also linked to the transmission of cholera, typhoid, diarrhea, and dysentery. When people have poor health, the strength, energy, and time needed for productive work diminish, compounding the time lost at the spring.

People here fall ill after drinking water from Sayia Spring, incurring medical costs that must be paid with money intended for other needs such as business inputs or children's school fees. Children are at a particularly high risk of contracting water-related diseases, leading to poor health, missed school lessons, and negative long-term consequences for their educations and futures.

"My performance in education really dropped due to the many times I was absent from stomach pains," said teenager Abigael.

"I was diagnosed with typhoid that did not give me peace to study for I was on and off the hospital. This also drained my parents financially while treating me and ensuring that I am well. I am therefore happy to know that our water source will be protected so we will not continue to have such cases reoccurring."

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

March, 2021: Sayia Spring Project Complete!

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

"I learned that water of satisfactory quality is the fundamental indicator of health and wellbeing of a society and hence, crucial for the development of a country. Contaminated water not only has the potential to pose an immediate threat to humans, but it also can affect an individual's productive rate. Now that I have access to clean and safe water, my productivity will be very high, for getting water is very easy," said Irene Mmbasu, a businessperson in the community.

"My goal is to venture into agribusiness, and so this will be made possible because there's enough water which will help in irrigation. The pipe fixed will help me connect a pump that will water my crops within a short time. In so doing, I will produce more farm produce which, in turn, will boost my income," she said.

Irene enjoying water at the spring.

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

"My life will be impacted positively because there will be a great reduction in hospital visits and cases of hospitalization. My goal is to perform well in my academics, and this is possible because the time used to fetch water has been reduced. With the accessibility of the water, there's no more time wastage. Thus, more time will be spared for my academic investment," said Priscah, a teenager and secondary school student in the community.

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.

A woman brings stones to the spring construction site.

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. 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.

Laying the foundation

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.

Raising the walls

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 to allow 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.

Plastering the stone pitching

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 stairs

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.

Backfilling with stones

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 also beautifying the spring and facilitating easy cleaning of the spring floor.

Planting grass

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.

Clean water flows from the completed spring.

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.

Boniface Sayia takes a drink of clean water from the spring.

We officially handed over the spring directly following training to mark the community's ownership of the water point. The dedication process was very lively. The community members assembled at the spring, with one man named Patrick leading prayers of thanksgiving. The spring's Secretary, Boniface Sayia, who happened to be the community mobilizer for this project, thanked the partners who came to their assistance and ensured that their spring was protected.

Boniface also appreciated the community members who worked hard alongside our team and artisan to ensure they would have safe and clean water. He closed his remarks by urging the community members to maintain cleanliness and be available whenever they are called to do the general cleaning at the spring.

Women celebrating the completed spring including Irene Mmbasu (center left) and Knight Mukanda (center right).

Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19, and More

Due to the ongoing challenges and restrictions amidst the pandemic, we worked with both 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 select yet representative group of community members to attend training, relaying the information learned to the rest of their family and friends. When the day arrived, facilitators Jemmimah Khasoha, Samuel Simidi, and Olivia Bomji deployed to the site to lead the event.

Trainer Jemmimah leads the handwashing session.

14 people attended the training, including members of the local self-help group. We held the training next to the spring under a big tree which provided shade and fresh air. It was a spacious venue that allowed all participants to maintain the required COVID-19 measures, including physical distancing. The site was far from noise and other forms of disruption. Thus it was very conducive for the training.

The attendance was good, with gender parity well-observed, showing a sign of commitment among the community. The participants were made the session lively by asking and answering questions. From their active participation, it was evident they had been eagerly waiting for this opportunity of learning, the trainers noted.

Practicing using the elbow for safer sneezes and coughs.

Perhaps the most important 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.

Trainer Sam teaches how to build a kitchen garden using recycled sacks.

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 and sanitation platforms; 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.

We also brainstormed income-generating activities that can be used to start both a community savings account for any future minor repairs to the spring and a cooperative lending group to enable members to develop their own small businesses.

A woman attending training.

The most memorable topic was health promotion. One participant commented that when a child is growing, there is always a natural stage of diarrhea, and she insisted it was very normal. When the facilitator explained the various causes of diarrhea, including consuming dirty water, many women said that they changed their minds, agreeing that the diarrhea was actually not a natural stage.

The other memorable topic was food hygiene. The trainer stated that there are various ways of making money from food, including eating healthy food that is well-prepared using good hygiene practices. This "makes" money in that it really saves money for families who would otherwise become sick and have to pay for medication to treat illnesses related to poorly-prepared, contaminated food. A lively conversation about homegrown versus commercial crops ensued, including differences in fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and other inputs.

Knight Mukanda

"The training has been very valuable in terms of maintaining hygiene. I have learned that many things that happen are due to negligence and ignorance that makes one suffer. When people are asked to maintain cleanliness or environmental hygiene, and they don't, it affects the entire population surrounding you," said Knight Mukanda, a farmer in the community.

"The training was so good, and it has been an eye-opener to great things. This new knowledge will impact my life positively because I have learned things to do with health promotion, which, in most cases, drains our money when it's not well observed," said Boniface Sayia, a businessperson who is also the spring's landowner and the elected Secretary of the new water user committee.

Simon enjoying the flowing spring water

We asked Boniface to reflect on the COVID-19 prevention training session and share what life has been like during the pandemic, including any changes he might make post-training.

"The steps that we had taken to stop the spread of the virus are wearing masks when leaving to go to public gatherings, keeping social distance from one another especially when in a crowd, and also washing hands more often." But the training provided helpful reminders for other prevention best practices, Boniface said, like maintaining one's personal health as a measure to boost one's immunity and installing handwashing stations at each home's entrance to encourage more frequent handwashing.

"Worries about the virus have started reducing because we have started adjusting to living with it. People have learned to reduce contact greetings and also to wash their hands more often, Boniface said.

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 team of 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!

February, 2021: Sayia Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Sayia Spring is making people in Makhwabuyu, 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 Videos

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: Time for Football and Studying!

April, 2022

A year ago, your generous donation helped Makhwabuyu Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Bradley. 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 2.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Makhwabuye 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!

We asked Bradley, 10, what it was like for him to collect water from Sayia Spring in Makhwabuyu before it was protected last year.

"I used to hate it because it was difficult to scoop water from this water point. The place used to be bushy and that used to scare me at times. Its protection has brought so much light to this place," said Bradley.

Since the spring was protected, things have changed for Bradley. He feels safer while collecting water and has more time to do other things that are important to him.

Bradley shared, "All I have to do is place my container, and it's filled up. I am no longer scared of coming here to get water because the place is no longer scary."

He continued, "I love playing football (soccer) because it's my talent. With much time on my side, I've been able to perfect my football skills. I have had enough time to study too."

Bradley at the spring, along with a field officer and a fellow community member.

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 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 Makhwabuye 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.


The Michelle LeMay Philanthropy Fund
1 individual donor(s)