Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 150 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jul 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/04/2024

Project Features

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"As a parent from this community, I have experienced many challenges concerning access to clean and safe water. I spend a lot of time looking for water due to overcrowding, and diseases affect our families, especially when they drink this water. Hence, financially, it's straining to seek medications because most of us earn little," said John Shiraho, a farmer who lives in Bumira village.

"Personally, many things have happened in my life due to lack of clean and safe water," sais teenager Ashley. "This has affected me academically as I spend much time looking for water which is unsafe for human consumption. Secondly, the hygiene level is not up to standard due to unclean water."

John and Ashley are just 2 of approximately 150 people in Bumira who rely on Savai Spring for water.  The springs was at one points protected by the community, but without the proper materials or technical expertise, the benefits of their structure were minimal.

Today, the catchment area behind the collection point is not protected, leaving the spring vulnerable to contamination. The drawing point is very low to the ground and constantly flooded with water, making community members perch uncomfortably over the spring's walls while they reach down to the water below their feet.

The difficulty accessing the drawing point slows community members down as they fetch water, causing long lines each morning and evening. Depending on the season, the spring water runs brown and cloudy, a direct result of dirt and other waste contaminating the water.

As John mentioned, having to rely on this spring's water even while it is contaminated leads to waterborne diseases like diarrhea and typhoid that are expensive to treat. When sick, kids have to miss school, and adults miss out on work and other productive activities. And when families do not have enough water to maintain hygiene standards at home, including handwashing, people become trapped in a cycle of fecal-oral disease transmission.

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 community's female members by freeing up more of their time and energy to engage and invest in income-generating activities and 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 ensure participants have the knowledge they need about healthy practices and their importance to make the most of their water points 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 forming a water user committee, elected by their peers, to 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

July, 2021: Savai Spring Project Complete!

Bumira Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Savai 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.

When Joseph Madangwa, a village elder, was asked what clean water means to him, he said, "Access to clean water will promote healthy living with no diseases caused by unsafe water. Economically we'll be empowered. Cleaning activities will be done daily, like washing clothes and bathing."

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

"Life will really change because access to clean and safe water will enable me to achieve my dreams. I will not waste time, and my hygiene standards will improve, like washing my school uniforms daily. I'll not be absent from school and be living a healthy life. Academically, I will focus, be a role model to others. Also, my agribusiness activities will prosper due to enough water for sustainability," said Santiago Mulizi.

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.

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 slightly 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.

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.

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 is happy about the project and promised to protect it for future generations. They planted flowers around the spring to celebrate.

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 Victor Musemi and Jonathan Mutai deployed to the site to lead the event. Thirty-two people attended the training, including community-based leaders and village health volunteers. We held the training on a sunny morning near the spring for practical demonstrations and ensured that everyone followed COVID-19 safety measures.

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 they can use 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.

"I really appreciate all that has been done. The success of training helped me learn to maintain a high standard of hygiene and a healthy life. Others will also learn from me," said Rose Iramwenya, a village health volunteer.

"The training was important to us. We acquired knowledge that will help us ensure the safety standards of hygiene are maintained in the community and train the upcoming generation," said John Shiraho, a local farmer.

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!

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: "I now have time to play with my peers."

August, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Bumira Community 3.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Bumira Community 3 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!

"Initially, accessing this spring was hectic," shared eight-year-old Bramwel when describing what collecting water from Savai Spring was like before its protection last year.

"I did fear coming alone to the spring as its environs were wanting. I used to accompany my peers as they were my source of courage. Nights were a no-go zone for the spring users," Bramwel said.

But now, things are different for Bramwel and the others in his community of Bumira when accessing the spring.

"Currently, the spring is easily accessible to all members at any given time. The bushes surrounding the spring have been cleared. I can now walk to the spring on my own to fetch water and come back home carrying water safely for my mum to use to wash my clothes and those [of] my siblings," shared Bramwel.

"I now have time to play with my peers without any pressure from home. Initially, most of our time was spent fetching water for use back at home," concluded Bramwel.

Bramwel collecting water from 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 Bumira Community 3 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 Bumira Community 3 – 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.


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