Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 70 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/06/2024

Project Features

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The Shivagala community is a gently sloping land where community members grow sugarcane plantations and keep domestic animals such as cattle and goats. Though most people practice farming as their livelihood, there are a few people who are boda boda riders, taxiing people around on a motorbike to earn their living. There is a tradition of bullfighting here, which draws local and foreign spectators alike and serves as another source of income for the bull owners.

The homesteads are concentrated in one area of the village, and there is a particularly small cluster of homes with about 70 people who depend on Alois Chiedo Spring for water.

Alois Chiedo Spring looks like a small creek or a large puddle in the earth. Its bottom is covered in sand, mud, rotting leaves, and algae. Inside the water, insects and small animals such as frogs, snakes, and more call it home. Runoff from the rains flow straight into the spring water, mixing farm chemicals, residues from animal waste, and soil into the water people drink. This water is not fit for human consumption.

Community members report frequently contracting waterborne and water-related diseases due to consuming water from this unprotected spring. In most cases, they say, people get sick with typhoid and diarrhea, both of which render people unable to take part effectively in their daily responsibilities and work.

"I am tired of getting sick with typhoid and using a lot of resources to cater to its treatment. Furthermore, my passion of being a farmer is no more as most of the time I am unfit" to work, said 48-year-old Mr. Alois Chiedo, for whom the spring is named.

These illnesses can be expensive to treat, draining families of their financial resources. Adults lose a lot of productive time while recovering, and children miss their classes, often falling behind their classmates at school.

"Most cases I have contracted waterborne or water-related diseases like typhoid, which limit me from playing with my friends and also having personal studies," explained young boy Favour.

This wasted time is compounded by the amount of time people lose while waiting to fetch water. The process is tiring and time-consuming, and if people move too quickly, they could either fall into the water or stir up mud as they fetch it.

To draw water, community members must first perch on a few stones they placed across the spring to provide a makeshift dry spot. But the stones are covered in algae and usually wet, causing people to slip. Sometimes just their toes or shoes dip into the water, but falls are not uncommon.

Then, going one or two people at a time, they carefully submerge their container into the shallow pool of water as deep as they can to let it fill. Next, they have to top off their jerrycan using a smaller jug, bowl, or cup to scoop water from the spring and pour it into their larger jerrycan. Between fetching, people must wait for the water to settle lest they get extra sand and algae in their jerrycan.

With all this time spent trying to get the cleanest water possible, women face delayed daily work schedules and children are often late to school.

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

October, 2021: Shivagala Community, Alois Chiedo Spring Protection Complete!

Shivagala Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Alois Chiedo 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.

Rose with fresh water from the new spring.

One local housewife, Rose Mkolwe, now has high hopes for the futures of Shivagala's residents. "Levels of hygiene will improve in the community," she said. "Health issues will be minimal compared to the past. Empowerment will grow, effectively leading to development in the community."

"Access to clean and safe water will promote good health and long life, therefore minimizing frequent visits to the hospital seeking treatment," said Lucas Katiwa, the ward administrator.

"Life will change," Rose continued. "[The] short time used in collecting water [will help me] achieve my target of doing agriculture and business practices to enhance my living."

Preparing for Spring Protection

Community members work 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 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! Locals lent their strength to the artisans 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 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 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 clay is in short supply) and placed it at an incline to ensure water flows in the right direction.

We pitched medium to large stones on both sides of the spring's drainage channel in coordination with brickwork. 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 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. 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 disturb 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.


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 Betty Majani deployed to lead the event. Twenty-two people attended the training, including 15 females and seven males, which was more people than anticipated (but the more, the merrier!).

Opening prayer.

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.

"The training was a success to me," said Peter Juma, a village elder. "Many things have been learned from you people about hygiene and sanitation. This will help me train others about hygiene and sanitation.

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.

Rose taking notes during the training.

Alois Chiedo, the owner of the land where the spring sits (and, therefore, its namesake), expressed how much he enjoyed the training: "The training was of much importance to us. We acquired knowledge that will help us ensure the safety standards of hygiene are maintained in the community and training other upcoming generations."

When an issue arises concerning the spring, 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!

September, 2021: Alois Chiedo Spring Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Shivagala 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: "I am happy with the water I am fetching."

December, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shivagala 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 Aloice Chiedo Spring was protected, community members had to balance on stones laid in the spring to fetch water. Sometimes community members would fall and injure themselves. Every day, it meant there were lines of people waiting for their turn to fetch water, which wasted everyone's time. And, even worse: the spring's water hurt anyone who drank it without boiling it first.

"Water was fetched from a passing stream where it was not protected," said 52-year-old farmer Eunice Chiedo, who serves as the chairperson of the local water user committee. "This area was covered by thick shrubs. Though the sugar cane [stalks were] around the spring, we couldn't cut them to pave way for drainage due to [the] strictness of the owner."

But now, all that has changed.

"The water is clean and easily accessible after [the] construction," Eunice continued. "We have cleaned up the area. My husband has weeded the sugarcane well. [I] am happy with [the] water [I] am fetching. I enjoy drinking this water because it is fresh, and, I believe, free from contamination. Accessibility has improved. The security is guaranteed [because there is] no room for attack from animals."

With a protected, easily accessible water source, the people of Shivagala have been able to improve their health and focus on what's important.

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 Shivagala 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 Shivagala 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.


Angels Among Us by Lisa Love