Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 210 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jul 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/05/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

"Since the spring is open to all sources of contamination, our parents spend more money on medication than paying school fees for us, and this has affected most of us in the community academically," said secondary school student Collins, a teenager in Shibikhwa who depends on Musotsi Spring for water.

Musotsi Spring serves 210 people in Shibikhwa, but it is not serving them well. The spring is completely open to contamination from surface runoff which carries with it soil, farm chemicals, and animal waste, among other toxins. The cost on community members' health and wallets is high as they are frequently battling and treating waterborne diseases. They lose a lot of productive time when they are sick, either at work among adults or at school for children.

The other big challenge at Musotsi Spring is poor accessibility. Did you notice how dark it is in the photos of community members fetching water? That is because when we first arrived to interview them, it was too early to accompany them to the spring. During the day, the crowding and lines seem unending as people have to scoop water with shallow jugs and bowls to pour into their larger jerrycans.

The more people who fetch water at once, the more mud gets stirred up into the water. Then, people have to wait even longer for the water to settle before trying to fetch it again. The whole fetching process is incredibly slow and frustrating. This time lost at the spring compounds with time lost to being sick from the spring water, reducing community members' productivity even further.

So, our hosts invited us to stay until they were ready to go to the spring. Once the sun set and the evening was settling in, we accompanied them to Musotsi Spring.

"I am forced to draw water from this unprotected spring very early in the morning or later in the evening; that is the time when the water is somewhat clean. During the day there is queueing at the spring and precious time is wasted in gossip, which also results in conflicts," said Esther Valavie, a 22-year-old farmer in the community.

Even though some of the best water is found in these pre-dawn and dusk hours, those are also the most dangerous times to send children, especially girls, alone to the spring. So, adults have to leave their other work behind to accompany their children, or they must settle for the dirtier, mid-day water that takes longer to fetch. The choice is hardly a fair one.

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

July, 2021: Musotsi Spring Project Complete!

Shibikhwa Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Musotsi 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.

"Initially, I could spend a lot of time queuing up at the spring for water to settle. Now the issue of dipping our containers inside the water is gone since we get water through the pipe and very little time is wasted. Since all the routes of contamination have been blocked, we shall use the money that was spent on medication to do other development activities and thus improve the living standards," commented Denis Khatasa, a local farmer.

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

"I will have time to do my homework. Initially, I could stay at the spring just to wait for the water to clear before fetching. I will ask my grandmother to give me a small portion where I can plant vegetables that I will sell and get some money to help my grandmother clear my school fee balance," said 15-year-old Clinton when asked what the spring means to him.

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.

We handed over the project to the spring users and the officials elected during the training. We had a spiritual leader who prayed for the project among the participants then the community members started drawing water from this new 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 Betty Muhongo and Stella Inganji deployed to the site to lead the event. Twenty people attended the training, including community-based leaders. We held the training at Mrs. Philice Musotsi's home. She is the landowner where the spring is protected. The training was done under the shade of trees that are within her compound. This venue provided enough space for us to observe COVID-19 rules. Our training was done in the afternoon because of the busy schedule of the community members during morning hours. The weather was conducive for learning as there were no signs of rain to scare off participants.

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.

"Water has no bad heart" is what they say in the local dialect. Most community members stored their water in dirty containers and did not know how long drinking water should be in a container. The training facilitator shared with participants the proper ways of handling water, communicating that any water fetched must have a clean container, and lids should be used to cover them to prevent germs.

"It's through this training that I have been able to learn more on sanitation matters. I will ensure that my family members get the same information, and our life will really change. I will help my mother on how to make masks so that the money that has been spent buying masks will be converted to buying other basic household items," said Brian, a student.

"Personally, I have not been keen on the issue of water handling. Most of the time, I have been sending my grandchildren to go and draw water from the unprotected spring and not sure how they handled the water. I could fill my pot with that water for more than three days. With the training, I have been able to learn that drinking water should not sit for more than three days, and the container should be cleaned regularly and covered with the lid," said Philice Musotsi.

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!

June, 2021: Musotsi Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Musotsi Spring is making people in Shibikhwa, 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: Ample Time to Do Homework!

July, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shibikhwa Community 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 Musotsi Spring in Shibikhwa Community last year, people had to collect water at all hours of the day, trying to avoid the long lines of people that would accumulate during peak hours. The high traffic at the spring would stir up dirt from the bottom of the spring, which would make the water unusable for those who missed out on collecting water earlier in the day.

11-year-old Ivony O. explained how this used to affect her: "Before the completion of the spring, [when] I used to come from school and get the water, [it would be] dirty because many people had immersed in dirty containers during [the] daytime, which was very risky for human consumption."

But now that the spring has a discharge pipe and water collection isn't so labor-intensive, there are no longer queues to contend with, and Ivony doesn't have to spend time waiting for or worrying about water.

"I take less time to fetch water from the spring," Ivony said. "Also, the place around the spring is not slippery when it rains. There [are] stairs."

Without this worry, on her mind, Ivony has had time to focus on what matters for a girl her age.

"I work on my homework early enough before I go to bed," she said. "I have also improved academically."

Ivony stands 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 Shibikhwa 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 Shibikhwa Community – 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.


Hey Dewy