Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 280 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/12/2024

Project Features

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The Mukoko area is a flat land that has many homesteads. Most farms include a sugarcane plantation and some have maize plantations. In addition to farming, to earn a living many young men work as boda boda, or motorcycle taxi, drivers, ferrying people wherever they need to go.

280 people in Mukoko depend on Zebedayo Mutsotsi Spring for all of their daily water needs. But in its unprotected state, the spring water is not safe for human consumption and it is difficult to access. The spring area is wet, muddy, and slick with algae.

Most people in Mukoko report wasting time that was meant for their development actives on fetching water and going to the hospital when they get sick from the spring water.

Since it is open, the spring water hosts debris such as fallen rotting leaves, insects, algae, and plenty of dirt and sand. Without the ability to access clean water, community members say that typhoid is the most common waterborne disease among those who consume the water from this spring.

"The ability to contract typhoid is a thorn in the flesh. It has rendered me poor as most of the available resources I use to cater to my medication purposes," said 42-year-old farmer Albert Mutsotsi.

Not only do families lose their financial resources seeking medication for their water-related diseases, but they also lose their productive time. For adults, they miss work and their income-earning activities. When children are sick, they have to stay home from school and often fall behind their classmates.

Time wastage is another problem at the spring. Though community members made a one-tier brick wall to try to force the spring water to pool and then flow down a makeshift half-pipe, the access area is still too low to the ground for a container to fit beneath the half-pipe while filling. To fetch water, people have to use a smaller jerrycan, such as a cup or jug, to scoop water from the spring and pour it into their larger jerrycans. The process is time-consuming, tiring, and it inevitably stirs up sand and mud from the bottom of the spring's pooling water.

"I take a lot of time fetching water as sometimes the water gets dirty easily. so I have to wait for it to settle. This has sometimes caused my mum to punish me thinking I was playing at the spring site," when really she was just waiting for clean water, explained a very young Pauline.

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

April, 2021: Zebedayo Mutsotsi Spring Project Complete!

Mukoko Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Zebedayo Mutsotsi 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.

Zebedayo Mutsotsi and his wife say cheers over a glass of clean water from the protected spring named for their family.

"Accessing clean and safe water is the best thing that has ever happened in my life. I am optimistic my health and that of my family will be greatly improved. The many resources we have been using to cater to medications after contracting water-related diseases will be used to cater to my family, leading to better health standards. The protection of this spring will enable me to save on much time taken to fetch water and embark on understanding other development activities," said Okang'a Smith, a farmer in the community.

Okang'a Smith fetches water at the spring.

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

"I am so happy. I will now be able to access water from this water point so easily and conveniently. I will now be able to save time whenever I go for water at the spring. That time will now be used to study more," said a young Nelly.

Nelly takes a gulp from her glass of clean spring water.

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.

Children help deliver bricks to the spring site.

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. 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.

Bricklaying begins

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 at a slight incline to ensure water flows in the right direction.

Stone pitching

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 to discourage people and animals from trying to stand 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.

Setting the tiles

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.

Backfilling with clay

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.

Backfilling with stones

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.

Zebedayo Mutsotsi plants grass at the spring.

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. Members of this community were anxious and eager to fetch water from the protected spring right from the onset. Once the construction was complete and the spring declared usable, members of the Mukoko community started fetching water immediately. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day flowing in all directions.

Josephine Ondeyo fetches water from the completed spring.

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, who will relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

Trainer Jacky shows how to build a tippy tap handwashing station.

When the day arrived facilitator Jacklyne Chelagat deployed to the site to lead the event. 21 people attended the training, including the local Village Health Volunteer. We held the training outside at the spring site under trees. The shade coupled with the fresh air made the entire training conducive.

Fred practices handwashing next to Trainer Jacky.

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 also left behind a rice sack painted with messages of COVID-19 prevention reminders in the local language. We affixed the sign to the spring's fence during training and encouraged community members to use it as a daily reminder to stay cautious both at home and at the spring.

Mask-making session

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. The session on spring maintenance was particularly memorable because the spring's landowner and namesake, 84-year-old Zebedayo Mutsotsi, said that if anyone was found vandalizing the protected spring, he would personally take charge of punishing them swiftly to ensure the spring's longevity.

Trainer Jacky stands next to the elected leaders of the water user committee.

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.

Albert Mutsotsi gives thumbs up at the spring.

"This training has equipped us with adequate knowledge and information that will go a long way in improving our sanitation and hygiene standards, which will translate to better health care and key information on how to maintain and preserve our new protected water source," said Albert Mutsotsi, a local business owner and the elected Chair of the water user committee.

Zebedayo Mutsotsi practices the ten steps of handwashing at training.

"Education is power. I am totally a different person having acquired the most important information, I am knowledgeable and sure that my life is going to change once I implement all I have learned," said Zebedayo Mutsotsi.

"The demonstration on making a homemade mask was so important. Most times we are forced to wash the surgical masks and wear them again. Being old, I am still worried about the virus, but at the same time, I am very keen on following the well-laid regulations," Zebedayo added.

Zebedayo celebrates the completed spring.

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.

Kids pose at the spring.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

March, 2021: Zebedayo Mutsotsi Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Zebedayo Mutsotsi Spring is making people in Mukoko, 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: No More Wasted Time!

May, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mukoko 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!

Before Mukoko Community's spring was protected, people wasted so much time just fetching water to perform their daily activities.

10-year-old John L. recalled what life was like last year before the community had a source of safe, reliable water. "It was hard and unhealthy. The struggle at the water point used to make [the] water dirty before even we finished to draw water. Because we did not have [any] other water source, we would just take the water as it was."

But now, life for John and everyone else in Mukoko has changed.

"Now there is no struggling and we take home clean and safe water," John said. "We no longer waste time at the source [like] before, but draw water faster to give way for others too. [I] am happy that now I can have time to play with my friends, time for extra studies, and time to help my parents with farm work activities whenever needed."

John, center, stands at the spring with a fellow community member and an employee of The Water Project.

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 Mukoko 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 Mukoko 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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