Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 250 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/02/2024

Project Features

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Green is the first impression you get when you look at the water from Makunga Spring, resulting from the thick layers of algae in the water. The algae floats on top and sits several layers deep within the water, even coating the spring's bottom. There is so much algae and plant material in this spring that community members who own them have to bring sieves to the water point to filter their water as they pour it from small scooping jugs into their larger jerrycans.

And yet, the algae is not the only contaminant in this spring. Because it is open, Makunga Spring is prone to surface runoff from the rains. The runoff carries soil, farm chemicals, and animals waste directly into the drinking water source. Any soil and bacteria on the containers people scoop and submerge in the water, along with their hands and feet, also enter the water while they are fetching it.

This water is unsafe to drink, yet Makunga Spring is the primary water source for 250 people in Lunyinya. Community members are forced to waste a lot of time at the spring each day as they wait for person after person to scoop and pour their water. If more than 1 person tries to fetch at once, or if people fetch too quickly, even more algae and mud from the spring's bottom is churned up into the water. During the rainy season, the water becomes so dirty that people cannot even use it to wash clothes without decanting it several times.

Spending so much time at the spring affects the rest of the community members' schedules and work plans. People find themselves spending more time at the spring than anywhere else.

"The severe effects of drinking this spring water that we have encountered as a community are continuous visits to the hospital because of stomachaches. This has changed our lives because it is expensive to visit the hospital every time. The water causes the skin to be itchy, especially during the rainy season," explained Mr. James Nyongesa, a 20-year-old farmer in the community.

"It will be my joy that Makunga Spring will be protected," James added, "because all the diseases that we have been suffering from will be past tense. Our children have suffered because of stomachaches but now it will come to an end because we will get clean water."

Due to the spring's poor access area, community members overcrowd at the spring, especially during the dry season when people from other villages seek out Makunga Spring for its reliable water. But the overcrowding leads to conflicts between neighbors and even within families. Everyone is trying their best to move quickly yet carefully while fetching water, and no one means to disturb the water. Everyone's work and business is at stake while they wait. People just want to fetch clean water so they can get on with the rest of their day.

"Since the spring will be protected, we will be able to enjoy fetching clean and safe water for consumption that will be flowing all the time," shared Sharon optimistically, a teenager and secondary 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. 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: Makunga Spring Project Complete!

Lunyinya Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Makunga 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.

Allan, age 2, plays in the clean water.

A local farmer,  James Nyongesa, shared, "My life and that of my family will change positively because waterborne diseases will be a thing of the past. We will no longer be seeing algae that covered our water rather clean and safe flowing water.

"I will no longer worry about the health of my family and the bills that I used to pay in the hospital. I will put all my energy on providing for my family."

James Nyongesa

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

"[I] am so happy that clean water will be flowing, and I will be fetching water directly from the pipe. As children, we no longer have fear of fetching water. Instead, our hearts are filled with joy and happiness," said Ruth W.

Ruth is excited for clean water!

She continued, "I will no longer have fear of overcrowding at the spring, which used to waste a lot of time. I will concentrate more on my classwork because the time we used to waste at the spring to queue will be used to do homework and extra studies."

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.

Community members carry a fence post.

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.

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.

Clean water flowing!

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 Olivia Bomji and Jemimah Khasoha deployed to the site to lead the event.

The water committee chair promised to mobilize community members to attend the training, but to our surprise, they were not ready for the training when we got to the community. We took it upon ourselves to gather community members. Seven community-based leaders and village health volunteers took part in the training.

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.

Proper handwashing was another memorable session. The participants were surprised to learn that they were not washing their hands correctly. They now know it is good to maintain hand hygiene and ensure that hands are washed correctly to protect them.

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.

When asked what hygiene and sanitation steps the community took to prevent the spread of COVID-19, James Nyongesa shared, "To be sincere, I can say none. Though we had masks in our houses, we were not wearing them until today when (you) came to educate us more about the virus. That is when we realized the importance of mask-wearing.

James Nyongesa practices handwashing.

"The training was so valuable to me, and I know from today I will do things differently for the sake of the safety of my health and that of my family," James said. "The training was so good, and it has made me realize that COVID-19 is real and not a joke. From this training, I have learned to protect myself and those around me from COVID-19."

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!

July, 2021: Makunga Spring Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Lunyinya 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: Everyone Looks Smart and Neat!

September, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Lunyinya 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!

"We used to fetch water in [a] hole," said 11-year-old Vincent M. "When it rained, we were forced to [fetch water] the following day when it was settled and clear. The water from uplands could get in and contaminate it."

As Vincent said, collecting water in Lunyinya a year ago was both time-consuming and unrewarding, as the water community members spent so much time fetching would inevitably make them sick. But now, their protected spring provides safe, reliable water that is much easier to fetch.

"The water is very clean, as you can see," Vincent said. "When our mother used to send us for water, we could carry dirty water unknowingly. The spring is protected [now], and the water is safe and reliable always. We have good health. I wash my clothes regularly, and see my sisters wash utensils (dishes) using plenty of water and air dry them, making us also look smart and neat."

The source of reliable water has improved everyone's hygiene and improved their health. Now, they can study, work, and play without worry.

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 Lunyinya 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 Lunyinya 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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