Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 350 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2021

Functionality Status:  Water Flowing - Needs Attention

Last Checkup: 04/05/2024

Project Features

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350 people in Mayuge depend on Ucheka Spring for all of their daily water needs, but the spring is open to all sources of contamination. Animals walk through the water and drink directly from the spring, leaving their waste behind. Runoff from the rains carry dirt, farm chemicals, animal waste, and other toxins straight into the water. Because community members must submerge their entire container into the water to fetch it, they are also depositing any dirt and bacteria from their jerrycans and hands into the water. The environment around the spring is not clean either, with animal waste, trash, and rotting leaves easily spotted.

Most community members head to the spring very early in the morning or late in evening to avoid crowds and long lines. The more people who fetch water in a short period, the more mud gets stirred up from the bottom. But sometimes 3 or 4 people will submerge their containers at the same time because there are simply too many people to wait for individual turns. The more time wasted at the spring means less time to spend on other productive activities for the day such as jobs, farming, chores, and homework.

"We spend a lot of our precious time at the spring waiting for water to settle. If the spring will be protected, that time will be used to do schoolwork and good results will be seen," stated teenager Rosella optimistically.

The dirty water from Ucheka Spring causes frequent cases of waterborne diseases among the families who depend on it. Illnesses such as typhoid, cholera, and diarrhea drain people of their time and energy to work, and they rob families of their resources as they try to pay for medication.

"We have remained the same for a very long time: the little money we are able to get is used for medication. If the spring will be protected we shall have some change in our families. We shall save this money to undertake other income activities," explained Ernest Simiyu, the village elder in Mayuge.

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

May, 2021: Ucheka Spring Project Complete!

Mayuge Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Ucheka 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.

Women give a wave of thanks at the protected spring.

"Initially, I used to fear using water from this spring because it was open to all sources of contamination. As we speak, the spring is now protected, hence no more stress when drawing water. I will have plenty of time to carry out my other duties as a mother. I would wake up very early in the morning to avoid overcrowding at the spring, but now, very little time is spent at the spring," said Christine Namanda, a farmer in the community.

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

"Personally, I have been affected whenever I took water from this spring without it being boiled. My parents have spent a lot of money on medication to ensure I am well. Before spring protection, a lot of time was wasted. I would wait for more than thirty minutes for the water to clear up. Now I will use that time to do my school work, and I am sure there will be a great improvement in my academic performance," said the teenager and secondary school student Rose.

Rose poses on the steps of the spring.

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.

Community members deliver materials to the spring using a cart pulled by cattle.

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.

All ages helped deliver materials to the spring.

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.


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 slightly incline to ensure water flows in the right direction.

Stairs construction

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 on that area, which could cause soil erosion and thus a clogged drainage area.

Rub wall construction

We turned to cementing and plastering both sides of the headwall and wing walls with brickwork and stone pitching completed. 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.

Setting the tiles

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.

Erecting the fence

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.

Men shake hands over the good work done at the protected 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. To mark the occasion, community members sang songs of praise to God for answering their prayers. The officer in charge of the station, Betty Muhongo, joined them to celebrate and later handed over the project to the Water User Committee Chair.

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, facilitator, Betty Mungongo, deployed to the site to lead the event. 22 people attended the training, including community-based leaders. More people wanted to attend, but due to local COVID-19 restrictions, we had to turn people away to keep the group size down. As a coincidence, all attendees ended up being women, which was not our goal, but even the additional community members who wanted to come were women as well. We held the training adjacent to the spring, where the trees provided at least some shade for the training.

Spreading out to ensure physical distancing.

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.

Building a leaky tin handwashing station.

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.

Handwashing demonstration

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 session on safe water handling was one of the most memorable topics. Betty advised the participants to ensure that the surrounding environment where they store their water is always clean and free from any contaminants harmful to human health. The majority of the participants who reside near the spring discussed using smaller containers to store their drinking water since they can refill them more easily. It would help to empty their containers in fewer days to ensure the water does not get old. Finally, Betty urged the participants to train their little children to properly get water from their storage containers to insert unclean hands into the water properly.

The elected Water User Committee leaders pose with Field Officer and Trainer Betty Muhongo (right) following the election at training.

"I have been able to learn more on sanitation matters. I was not aware that drinking water should not stay more than three days in the storage container. I used to fill my water container whenever I noticed that the level of water had reduced," said Jane Nekesa, a farmer, and the elected Water User Committee Secretary.

"Before this training, I was not sure if Coronavirus was real. I would walk with my mask in the pocket to avoid paying a fine to the police. After the training, I have vowed not to fear the police but to be in charge of my life and make sure I adhere to the rules and regulations put in place by the Ministry of Health since it's for my own good," said Felister Milava, also a farmer.

Using as much shade as possible at training

"The importance of using soap and flowing water was the most helpful part of the COVID-19 sensitization training. Initially, I would wash my hands on several occasions but without soap. I realized this when our facilitator demonstrated the ten steps of handwashing," Felister continued.

"Since I have learned what should be done to stop the spread of COVID-19, I will keep on spreading the gospel on how to prevent COVID-19 until everybody is used to the rules and regulations. I will advise my community members not to have meetings in crowded places where they cannot observe the social distance."

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!

April, 2021: Ucheka Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Ucheka Spring is making people in Mayuge, 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: From Never Doing Homework to Teacher's Pet!

June, 2022

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

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This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mayuge Community maintain access to safe, reliable water. Together, they keep The Water Promise.

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Thomas M., 12, shared what collecting water was like for him last year before Ucheka Spring was protected.

"Initially, I used to take a lot of time waiting for water to settle before drawing," he said. "I was forced to go to the spring very early in the morning or late in the evening for me to get clean water and save on time, too."

But now, Thomas can collect water with ease. "At the moment, I can go to the spring anytime since no one will make the water dirty," said Thomas.

Not only is it easier for Thomas to collect water, but it is also faster, giving him time to do other things.

"I now have time to help my parents at home and mingle with my friends," he said.

"I have time to do other duties both at home and school. My relationship with teachers has really improved because [I] am able to finish my homework compared to the time when the spring was not protected. I used to waste my precious time and most of the time I did not finish my homework."

Thomas at protected Ucheka 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 Mayuge Community 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 Mayuge Community – and hundreds of other places just like this – is by joining our community of monthly givers.

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