Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 280 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/04/2024

Project Features

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"We are glad we have water nearby, but our water is not safe for drinking. In most cases, we find our water looking like milk. Last year I suffered from amoeba for a long time and spent a lot of money treating it. I had to sell all of my chickens to get treatment, and this really drained me financially," recalled Mary Levi, a 48-year-old farmer, and mother in Tombo B.

Mary is 1 of 280 people who depend on Mukonesi Spring for water in Tombo B. But the Spring is open to contamination, which frequently leads to water-related illnesses such as Mary's. People have to stand directly in it to reach the water, bringing whatever soil and bacteria were on their shoes and feet into the spring. Surface runoff from the rains is another major contamination source, depositing farm chemicals, more soil, and animal waste into the water. Algae piles up on the spring edges, and the water is home to all sorts of insects.

Since Mukonesi Spring is unprotected, women have to come very early in the morning to fetch water before it gets dirty; the more people who fetch at once, the more mud gets stirred up into the water. Much time is wasted in waiting for the water to clear after several people have fetched. Women fetch water intended for drinking as early as 5:00 am to fetch the cleanest water available each day.

To fetch water, community members must scoop water from the spring's shallow water pool with small jugs or bowls. They then pour this water into their larger jerrycans. The process is time-consuming and frustrating; every scoop wastes more of their time and delays the rest of the day's activities. The scoop-pour method also brings more contaminants into the water from the container used to scoop the water.

Community members report continuous outbreaks of diarrhea, typhoid, and stomachaches among families who depend on Mukonesi Spring for water. As a result, children miss a lot of class time, and adults miss out on productive work hours at their jobs, farms, and home.

"We will be glad when our spring is protected so that we can access safe, clean drinking water," said teenager Tabitha, a primary school student in the 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. Therefore, protecting the spring and offering training and support will 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 training 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, which 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 to 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 the 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 handling, storing, and treating water. Having a clean water source will be extremely helpful, but it is useless if water gets contaminated by the time it is consumed. The community and we 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 training 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 spring's operations and maintenance. 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: Mukonesi Spring Protection Complete!

Tombo B Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Mukonesi 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 will improve our health and reduce cases of waterborne diseases that have been there because of drinking contaminated water," said farmer Levi Mukonesi, 38, who owns the land the spring is on.

"The water point will help in enhancing cleanliness at our homestead," Levi continued, "and also improve [our] quality of life where, being healthy, we will [be] able to do our work [peacefully] and [energetically]."

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

"This safe water will change my life completely," said 13-year-old Ranny. "I will not be sick as before to miss school."

Ranny splashes at the water point.

"I will attend classes as required without fear of being sick," Ranny continued. "This good, completed water point will help save time that we used to fetch water before. I will improve on my performance and get good grades."

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 pipes. The discharge pipes have 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 pipes without making contact.

If we place the discharge pipes 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 pipes using clay (or mortar when clay is in short supply) and placed them 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.

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. Levi Mukonesi was instrumental in helping us both recruit for and remind community members of the training, and we really appreciate his efforts. 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. 13 people attended the training, including ten women and three men. Our training was done outside under a big tree at local Selina Mukones' homestead. The chairs at the venue had already been arranged for us.

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.

"As a community, we have been trying wearing masks, but not always as required, because many people believe there is no COVID-19 at the village," shared Betty Jomo, 46.

"We have also been washing [our] hands when visiting public places, though not as we were taught," Betty continued. "[I] have been washing [my] hands, sometimes with soap, sometimes without soap, so [I] am going to rectify that. [I] am also going to make enough masks for myself and my family members."

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.

"[I] am glad I now know how to make my own soap," said Selina Mukones, 67. "Now that know, I will be making my own for personal use."

"At first I did not want to come, then I saw even men have attended, so I decided to see what was going on," said Betty. "I could have missed good things. I now know how to make my own mask, which will save on money used to purchase. [I] have also [learned] how to make liquid soap, which [I] am going to make my own next week."

After the training session was over, both facilitators and community members present went to the spring and prayed before, finally, the staff in charge officially handed over the spring to the community.

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: Tombo B Community, Mukonesi Spring Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Tombo B 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: Better Grades and Better Hygiene!

December, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Tombo B 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 Tombo B, people drank contaminated water every day, and spent a long time collecting it.

"Before the spring was constructed, fetching water was so challenging because [the adults] used to tell us to wait for them to fetch water first," said 13-year-old Musa. "I used to waste a lot of time at the water point rather than spending time on other activities."

Now, community members' source of water is protected and the collection time has reduced significantly.

"Now to get water is very easy," Musa said. "I just fetch water. Within seconds, my jerrycan is full. More so, I am now drinking safe, clean water. No more water-related ailments, which had affected my health a lot. I am very grateful to [you] because the water point has impacted my life positively."

With more time and better health, Musa has been able to focus on things that matter rather than waiting in lines for water.

"This water point has helped me achieve in my academic performance because I am no longer spending a lot of time in the water point, which has really helped me to concentrate on my studies," Musa said. "Additionally, I have greatly improved in hygiene practices. Nowadays, I can wash my school uniform at least twice a week, unlike before [when] I used to wash [it] after two weeks."

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 Tombo B 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 Tombo B 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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