Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 210 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/25/2024

Project Features

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"Finally, there is hope for a tree that has been cut; many people have promised to protect this spring, but all in vain. With your team, we know it will be done no matter how long it will take," said 28-year-old Mourine Munyanya, a farmer in Lusumu D Community, referring to Obuya Spring.

Obuya Spring is the main water source for 210 people here, but it does not provide clean or safe water. Because it is open to contamination, runoff from the rains carries soil, farm chemicals, animal waste, and other toxins straight into the spring's source. Animals walk straight through the water, drinking from the spring and leaving their waste around it or in the water. Families spend a lot of money on medication treating their waterborne diseases rather than doing the other development projects they never seem to get to.

When people get sick from drinking the spring water, they not only lose their resources trying to seek medical help, but they also miss out on productive time at work and school.

"We thank God for your coming. We shall be at school throughout [the year]; no more sicknesses and our performance will improve," said an optimistic Brian, a secondary school student in the community.

Obuya Spring's other major challenge is its poor accessibility. Community members tried to improvise a discharge pipe by sticking it into the earth where the spring originates, but the pipe is heavily corroded and jagged at the edges. Anyone who accidentally rests their hands on the pipe not only risks dislodging it but also a severe cut on their hand. The pipe does not capture all of the spring's output either, so the yield is limited and slows community members down as they line up to fetch water.

Around the pipe, a large pool of water several inches deep remains at all times since there is no drainage system. Community members have, at times, tried to place rocks in the water to help them stay above water level while they fetch, but the water level is always changing with the rains and seasons. The rocks are now just as slippery as the ground below them, so most people decide to wade through the water instead. It is an unpleasant and risky experience since some parasites and tapeworms live in the water and can be quite harmful if someone is bitten.

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. These methods include participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation, asset-based community development, group discussions, handouts, and demonstrations in 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

August, 2021: Obuya Spring Project Complete!

Lusumu D Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Obuya 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.

"Glory to God! Getting to the water point was very hard, especially during the rainy season. The area around the water point was slippery. We thank God that our spring looks like a house in an urban center. We have two stairways and this has made it easy for us to access the water point. Now, we are sure of having clean water throughout the year. And since we have been trained on how to make soap, we can form a self-help group and start making soap using the same water. This will help improve our lives," said Antonia Nekesa.

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

"I will no longer spend a lot of time queuing for water as in the past. Everything has been made easy. Since a very short time will be taken at the spring, I will have time to do my revision. By so doing, I am sure my performance will automatically improve. Thus, a bright future is mine," said 16-year-old student Diana M.

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 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.

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! 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 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 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.

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. The village elder helped recruit twenty people but due to COVID-19 Ministry of Health guidelines, we could only select eleven people that included community-based leaders and represented each household to attend the training. We held the training adjacent to the spring to save time during practical demonstration sessions.

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 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.

"Mask making was the most interesting topic to me. I am blessed with seven children and all of them are attending school.  As a parent, I am forced to buy masks every week, which is very expensive on my side. Having been shown how to make masks, I will no longer spend money on masks, but do other important things to improve the livelihood of my family," said Joshua Kiyumba, a village elder.

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!

July, 2021: Obuya Spring Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Lusumu D 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: "We no longer fear sending our children to fetch water."

August, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Lusumu 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 the protection of spring, we had to queue because the community members had just improvised a pipe to help them draw water, but a lot of water [was] diverted, leading to low discharge and overcrowding at the spring," said 79-year-old farmer Charles Oponyo.

But now, the construction at Obuya Spring captures all that once-diverted water, filters it, and directs it to the discharge pipe.

"Now, it's easy to fetch, and the water is also clean," Charles continued. "We no longer fear sending our children to fetch the water, as it's easily accessible. Incidences of diarrhea and stomachaches has really gone down because all the routes of contamination are blocked. Nowadays, I drink water from this source without being worried because [I] am sure it's safe for human consumption."

With better health and less time spent collecting water, Lusumu Community is poised for better futures ahead.

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 Lusumu 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 Lusumu 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.


27 individual donor(s)