Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 450 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 07/06/2023

Project Features

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The Shichebe area is rich in green vegetation. The roads leading here are not paved but they are well graded. There is a nearby shopping center that serves this community known as Tombo Market. Houses in Shichebe are both semi-permanent and permanent in design. Farming is the main livelihood here, with most people planting on a large scale maize, sugarcane, beans, and sweet potatoes. Others are small business owners and this ranges from running groceries, to retail shops, clothing shops, salons, and kinyozi (barbershops).

This community is known for coming together during social events like funerals, weddings, and for women's chamas (investment groups). The women of this community are Kabras, a Luhya tribe. Kabras women are known to be tough, no-nonsense, and very hard working. Most men outside of this community fear these women for their confidence.

Shichebe Spring is an unprotected spring that is the main water source for 450 people in Shichebe village. The spring is located on a gradual slope so whenever it rains, runoff carries eroded soil to the waterpoint, covering the source. This makes it difficult for the community members to fetch water, so they have to spend hours - and sometimes up to a whole day - trying to remove the soil.

"We have suffered for a very long time without clean water," said Emily Lihungu, a 52-year-old farmer and mother in this community.

"Whenever it rains, the surface runoff causes the walls of the spring to collapse. This soil falls in the spring water and since it's unprotected, the water gets contaminated and extremely dirty. As a mother, I wish to give my family safe food and water, but whenever the water gets contaminated I've no choice but to risk their health. We long for the day we shall drink clean and safe water."

As if the time lost at the spring due to digging out the eroded soil is not enough, after all the soil has been removed the water is completely muddy and the community members have to leave it overnight before they can access cleaner water in the morning. Sometimes, however, since they have no alternative water source, community members are forced to use the water as it is. Many other activities are delayed as a result of delayed water delivery, including children going to school, and adults going to the farm, work, market, and other social events.

"Our water gets dirty and contaminated with mud and during this period (the rainy season) we don't get clean water. We long to see our spring protected," said Elizabeth, a primary school-aged student in the community.

To aid in fetching water, the community installed a discharge pipe on the ground to facilitate drawing water. The pipe is held in place with only mud and rocks, and so it is often washed away. This pipe, however, is dirty and contaminated as a result of being fixed directly into the earth. In addition to the soil and dirty pipe that contaminate the water, pollutants including farm chemicals and animal waste are carried directly into the water point during the rains. Because it is open, animals can walk through the spring while drinking from it, leaving their waste behind as well.

The community reports constant outbreaks of diarrhea, stomachaches, typhoid, and headaches after consuming this spring water. The children also have constant coughs and diarrhea among families who depend on this spring. Families waste a lot of their financial resources trying to pay for medicine and hospital visits to treat their water-related illnesses. When sick, kids have to miss school and adults miss out on key productive time at work, at home, and on the farm.

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

November, 2021: Shichebe Community, Shichebe Spring Protection Complete!

Shichebe Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Shichebe 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.

"This water point will now help save time used to collect water and also it will help improve cleanliness around the compound," said Emilie Liungu, a 70-year-old housewife.

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

"Now I will be able to fetch water for my mother without wasting a lot of time as before and have time to play. Secondly, I will have clean water, which will not compromise my health anymore," said Faith M., age 9.

Faith excited for water.

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.

Children from the community help the artisans.

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.

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.

Upon completion, the field officer in charge handed over the project to present community members and the area administrative officer who urged everyone to take good care of the 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. Job Luvembe, an area administrative officer, helped recruit participants by going door to door to invite them to attend the training. 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 Stella Inganji and Betty Muhongo deployed to the site to lead the event. Eighteen (18) people, nine men and nine women, attended the training, including self-help group members and community-based leaders. We held the training at Mr. Simeon Luvembe's homestead outside under some shady trees.

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.

Learning about dental hygiene.

Our most memorable topic was during the dental hygiene session. Mrs. Loise Mukuvuli, an elderly grandmother (age 72) confessed to the group that she has never used a toothbrush and toothpaste since she was born. She demonstrated that her "toothbrush" was a stick before learning during the training that she can use a toothbrush and toothpaste.

Mrs. Mukuvuli went on to share, "When we were informed about the training I was not sure what we are going to be trained [about], but now that the training has ended, [I] am delighted to know how to make my own mask at home also how to make liquid soap. This new knowledge will help to improve my personal hygiene and [I'll] be healthier than before."

Spring site maintenance session.

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!

October, 2021: Shichebe Community, Shichebe Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Shichebe 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.

A Year Later: "I am so glad and thankful."

February, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shichebe 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!

Shichebe Spring was inaccessible for community members during rainy seasons before it was protected last year. This made collecting water burdensome and time-consuming for people, especially children.

"Previously, to get water was so difficult because my mother used to send me to fetch water very early in the morning before going to school and [again] in the evening. [This] was affecting me negatively since other community members [would] not allow me to fetch water first, and I could end up going to school late [and] miss[ing] classes, thus leading me to poor performance," said 13-year-old David L.

Since the spring was protected last year, things have been different for David. He has gained some valuable time with water accessible throughout the year.

"The water point has impacted me positively because I am no longer going to fetch water in the morning like before. My mother [is] now the one fetching water since it is very easy," said David. "More so, we are now drinking safe, clean water, which has impacted my family positively because we are no longer being affected by water-related ailments due to contaminated water."

"[The] protection of this spring has helped me achieve [a] very important thing in my life, which is [an] improvement in [my] academic performance. This is because, in this society, no one can change his family unless he or she is educated," said David.

"I am so glad and thankful to [you] for remembering young children [by] protecting this spring in this community because we were really affected negatively. Many [children] were ending up dropping out of school because of waterborne diseases," David concluded.

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 Shichebe 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 Shichebe 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.


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