Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 151 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 08/15/2023

Project Features

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The Mundoli community is home to fertile land and good drainage, lending its community members to a strong tradition of agriculture. Farming activities include growing sugarcane, maize, vegetables, cassavas, and sweet potatoes, and rearing cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats. In every household, there is at least one chicken as these are associated with the Luhya culture here. People also keep ducks as a predator to wandering snakes, which tend to invade homes during the hot seasons.

Fetching water first thing every morning before doing any other chore is the norm in Mundoli. This is because, for the 151 people here who depend on Pamela Atieno Spring for water, the spring gets more crowded and the water dirtier the later in the day you arrive.

Pamela Atieno Spring looks like a long open puddle in the earth. Contamination is rampant in the open spring water. 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 flows straight into the spring water, mixing farm chemicals, residues from animal waste, and soil into the water people drink. People step in the water, wash their containers with soap inside the spring, some people bathe there, and animals walk through it, defecate in it, and drink from the same source. This water is not safe for human consumption.

"I feel very bad every time I think of our water source, which poses a danger to our health and our children. Being a low-class income earner, I sometimes miss going and doing casual jobs due to body weakness caused by drinking the contaminated water. A wasted day for me means that my family will stay without food because I am the sole breadwinner," said 46-year-old Florence Ng'anyo, who doubles up as a village leader and also the interim chairperson for the unprotected spring.

Community members report waterborne and water-related cases of diarrhea and coughing are widespread among families who depend on this spring. With heightened tensions around COVID-19, however, many people say they are scared of going to the hospital for medical attention for fear of being mistaken as COVID-19 patients.

If they do seek medical attention, these illnesses can be expensive to treat, draining families of their financial resources. If they do not, they risk their life, especially when it is their children who get diarrhea. When sick, adults lose a lot of productive time while recovering, and children miss their classes, often falling behind their classmates at school.

"Sometimes I stay home not going to school when I am not feeling well after drinking bad water, which makes me sick and tired for some days. It is only during this Corona period that I have stayed home for a long time, not because of drinking dirty water but because of the pandemic. Previously, when all was well, my academic performance would fluctuate, sometimes up and at times below [average]," explained young primary school student Faith.

Accessibility and time wastage are additional challenges at the spring. 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 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.

This is why the morning is best for fetching, but everyone has the same idea, leading to lines. 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.

Two dedicated and committed women, both widows and neighbors, lead this spring's management. They are Pamela Atieno, the spring's landowner, and Florence Ng'anyo, quoted above. According to Pamela and Florence, their family status is what motivates them to work tirelessly to ensure that they achieve what lies ahead of them in the spring protection without being deterred by the dissenting voices from other community members who, in one way or another, may not be able to see the women's or the spring's potential.

To put their desire straight, Pamela and Florence singled out this spring as their main achievement and gift to the community at large. They look forward to seeing that their water source is protected, they said, to be able to bring safe, clean drinking water to their community.

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

September, 2021: Pamela Atieno Spring Project Complete!

Mundoli Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Pamela Atieno 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.

It's time to celebrate!

"Recently, I spent 6000Ksh (Kenyan Shillings-equivalent to USD 54) to treat typhoid. I am cocksure (confident) from this day henceforth, water-related diseases will be a forgotten issue in my life," said Florence Ong'anyo, a village leader.

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

Happy for clean water!

Anastancia K., a 16-year-old student, shared, "I'll be able to have more time to look into my books and also do other chores. Fetching water at this new water point is so easy and fast. A lot of time is salvaged. I believe I'll get better grades in school, and I'll have a brighter future since I'll be able to have enough time to study."

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 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 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, which is 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 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.

The community's children were a big help!

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 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 women working hard!

Women and children mostly helped with construction. The women in the community have taken up the responsibility of raising their families since many of their husbands struggle with alcohol. They are strong, but the completion of this spring is a great relief for them since their children won't continue to struggle with water-related illnesses. They pass their gratitude to everyone who has been a part of implementing this project.

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, Lillian, Simidi, and Masinde deployed to the site to lead the event. Eleven people, including 10 women and 1 man attended the training. The attendance was lower than expected since many people were busy on their farms harvesting corn.

Practicing dental hygiene

We held the training nearby at Florence Ong'anyo's homestead. Participants sat on the ground under shade trees in an open area that was spacious enough to keep their physical distance and be comfortable.

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.

Another memorable topic during this training was soap-making. The community members were eager to learn how to make soap as this is a process they believed was only possible in big factories.

Florence Ong'anyo commented, "Many of us here in the village had totally thrown caution to the wind. From this training, I've learned that I can get COVID-19 even if I am in this remote village. I won't drop my mask and will thoroughly wash my hands now."

"If I only had this soap-making skill earlier, I would have boosted my income. This training has helped since from today I'll venture into soap making for commercial purposes. My family will also have enough soap especially during this COVID-19 period," said Pamela Atieno, the spring's namesake and chairperson of the water user committee.

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!

August, 2021: Mundoli Community Project Underway!

Dirty water from Pamela Atieno Spring is making people in Mundoli Community 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

Protected Spring

In many communities, natural springs exist as water flows from cracks in rocky ground or the side of a hill.  Springs provide reliable water but that doesn’t mean safe. When left open they become contaminated by surface contamination, animal and human waste and rain runoff. The solution is to protect the source. First, you excavate around the exact source area of the spring. Then, you build a protective reservoir for water flow, which pours through a reinforced pipe in a concrete headwall to a paved collection area. Safe water typically flows year-round and there is very limited ongoing maintenance needed!

A Year Later: Better Hygiene, Better Health

December, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mundoli 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 we protected the spring in Mundoli last year, collecting water from the stream was an arduous task that took up a lot of time. Community members would try to scoop water into their jugs and jerrycans as carefully as they could so dirt and sediment wouldn't contaminate their water. All this effort served to make the water clearer and easier to sieve, but, unfortunately, it didn't protect them from water-related illnesses.

"People were forced to fetch drinking water very early in the morning, as later on it could be dirtified by careless scooping," explained Faith. "As a child, I found it hard waking up early to go fetch water before going to school."

But now that protected water flows straight from the spring's discharge pipe, getting water takes much less time. And the spring's water no longer poses a health risk to the people drinking it.

"Getting drinking water now is very easy because I can go fetch anytime," Faith said. "I am also able to wash my uniform daily and carry clean, safe drinking water to school. Through [the] protection of this water point, clean water has always been available for me to do [my] personal cleanliness and carry out house chores, such as washing utensils and cooking."

Faith, center, with a community member and 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 Mundoli 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 Mundoli 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.


Shah family
8 individual donor(s)