Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 396 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jul 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 08/16/2023

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

"As you walk near the water source, the environment tells me that a lot of the people in this area are living because of the grace of God. The water surface is open to all contaminants flowing into the water causing serious health challenges when consumed. The demand for this commodity is high, leading to regular congestions of people at the water source," said Field Officer Victor Musemi reflecting on his evaluation of Mulika Spring.

Mulika Spring is the main water source for 396 people in Shikokhwe Community, but the spring is not serving community members well. The water is dirty and difficult to access. Waste materials from different areas drain into the water source due to its openness, and the steep terrain of the land causes siltation during heavy rains. When the spring gets covered over by dirt, people have to spend hours digging it out and waiting for the water to pool and settle again before fetching it.

Contaminants in the water range from the dirt to farm chemicals, animal waste, insects, frogs, and rotting leaves, among others. The water appears milky-brown and gets worse the more people who fetch back-to-back, or if more than 1 person tries to fetch water at once.

Fetching water is difficult and inconvenient as people must either submerge their large containers into the pooled water, or dip smaller bowls and jugs to then pour into their jerrycans. Either way, the containers dipped into the water bring any dirt and bacteria that were on their surfaces directly into the water. Peoples' hands and feet also end up in the water with this tricky process since there is just a wooden plank and a few rocks to help them balance at the water's edge. The scoop-pour method is particularly time-consuming, and tension builds as crowds form while people wait their turn to fetch water.

Lack of enough clean water contributes to low standards of hygiene among the community members. It has also led to a high level of poverty as many people have used up their income to seek medication from health facilities to treat their water-related illnesses. When they are sick, adults miss out on productive and income-earning time, and children miss school. Families' earning potential and children's education are both being limited by Mulik Spring's dirty water.

"The current state [of the spring] has made it hard for me to prosper in life. The income I manage to earn is all spent around water and related problems. I spend so much to have clean water. My business has greatly been affected due to the low standards of hygiene, pushing customers away," said 32-year-old farmer and mother Juliet Samson.

"Due to the frequent consumption of unclean water, we regularly take people from this area - especially children - to health facilities who have contracted waterborne diseases because their immune system has been weakened over time. Animals are also affected by flukeworms and other parasites causing low production of milk," Juliet added.

Primary school-aged student Sarah related her challenges at the spring as well.

"Truly I have suffered a lot from this water point. It has taken the grace of God for me to use this water. Many of us have been facing different problems like being infected with water-related diseases causing us not to attend school and financial constraints as a majority of people use the little money they get for health services instead of paying school fees for children like me."

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: Mulika Spring Project Complete!

Shikokhwe Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Mulika 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.

"Access to clean and safe water will promote hygiene standards among the community members minimizing frequent visits to the hospital seeking treatment. It also ensures that individuals live a healthy life with more development projects. More time will help me doing my business and farming activities hence empowering me," said Tabitha, a female farmer.

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

"As a young child of this community, I will be in a position to have more time in shaping my future by reading due to easy access to clean and safe water. It also ensures that I am bathing daily without skipping like in the past. Academically I will achieve bringing light among the community members, and my agribusiness will prosper," said Mwalakha Mulika, a young girl.

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.

The facilitators handed over the spring to the newly elected water committee members. The area village elder attended the training and emphasized to attendees the need to maintain the facility so it can serve the next generation.

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. Twenty-eight people attended the training, including Community-based leaders and village health volunteers. We held the training outside in the open air for practical demonstration purposes and considered COVID-19 safety measures. The weather was hot and cloudy.

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.

The training facilitators introduced alternative contactless greetings, and to many, this was a shock. They believe traditionally that you should touch someone so that he or she feels that you have greeted them without pride. Due to COVID-19 safety measures hugging and touching someone's hands is not advisable, and participants were concerned about how they had been hugging one another before gaining this knowledge.

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: Mulika Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Mulika Spring is making people in Shikokhwe, 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.

A Year Later: "No hassles, no inconveniences!"

July, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shikokhwe 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 the spring in Shikokhwe last year, collecting water was a time-consuming and sometimes frustrating task. And once they had the water, it often made community members sick.

"We used to use jugs and bowls to scoop water from the pool that we had created here," explained Imelda Nashimiyu, a 39-year-old farmer and businesswoman from the community whose smiling face has decorated the top of this project page for the last year. "It was not good, as the water would get dirty if not scooped well."

Now, water-fetching is no longer the most dreaded part of everyone's day.

"Right now, it's a breeze," Imelda continued. "No hassles, no inconveniences, and no bowls or jugs. It has eased life in this community. It has saved us time and money. We spend [a] shorter time [fetching water] and have yet to receive any news of illnesses arising from consuming water from this water point."

With no illnesses and more time on their hands, Shikokhwe's people are now better able to provide for their households and spend time enjoying life.

Community members with our field officer 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 Shikokhwe 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 Shikokhwe 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.


1 individual donor(s)