Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 200 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jul 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/09/2024

Project Features

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"Mukunga Spring has a lot of water; the only challenge is that the water is not clean because the spring is not protected. I will be so grateful if the spring will be protected because my children will be safe and healthy," said Mrs. Esther Omulindi, a 35-year-old farmer and mother living in Mwera Community.

Esther is 1 of 200 people who depend on Mukunga Spring for all of their daily water needs, but every day the spring puts their health and general wellbeing at risk.

At Mukunga Spring, water fetching times stretch throughout the entire day which is not desirable. Community members must come to Mukunga Spring early in the morning, during lunch hours, and in the evening to try to avoid the queues and give the water some time to settle between people. But with the slow process of scooping water with a small jug and then pouring it into larger jerrycans, wait times are almost always guaranteed.

Overcrowding at the spring often leads to conflicts among women and children in the community since they are predominantly the ones responsible for fetching water in each family. While each person scoops water as quickly yet carefully as they can, the process is time-consuming and mud inevitably gets churned up in the water. Everyone just wants to fetch the cleanest water possible so they can get on with the rest of their day. Community members find they spend more time at the spring than anywhere else, reducing the number of hours they can work.

Mukunga spring hosts a number of contaminants: algae, water plants, bugs, and rotting leaves are constant companions in the water. Surface runoff from the rains carry soil, farm chemicals, and animal waste into the water, and the scoop-pour method adds any dirt or bacteria from people's jugs into the water. As much as they try not to touch the water, shoes, feet, and hands often dip into the water as well.

Many households here who depend on Mukunga Spring report frequent cases of stomachaches, diarrhea, typhoid, and coughing, especially in children and the elderly. People believe thier water-related diseases orginate in Mukunga Spring's water because, when they visit the hospital, they are always told to use clean water for consumption. But without another water source nearby, people are forced to continue using Mukunga Spring's water regardless of what it costs them in finances spent on medical care and the time and energy lost from work.

The access point at the spring is quite difficult to use. Adults and children alike try to perch on a few small stones while reaching their containers away from the shallowest water, lest they collect sand in their jugs. The strained reach is an awkward pose to maintain and repeat, and children often fall in as a result.

"I will be happy to fetch water from the pipe instead of using a scooping jug which is too heavy for me," said a very young Joy, who has to help her mother fetch water every day.

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

July, 2021: Mukungu Spring Project Complete!

Mwera Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Mukungu 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.

"I will no longer worry about the health of my children because the spring is protected and clean, safe water is flowing. My children will live healthy lives free from waterborne diseases that have affected them for years. I will concentrate on other things that will help my family earn income like, farming and selling fish from my fish pond. I am planning to use runoff water from the spring for a new fish pond. I will be able to harvest fish that I will sell to community members, and am sure I will earn enough money to support my family," said Esther Omulindi.

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

"It was my desire that one day I will fetch water through a pipe and not a scooping jug that strains my hands. My dream has come to pass because today, clean, safe water is flowing, and I am fetching directly from the pipe. My hand will now rest from carrying a heavy scooping jug. Thank you so much for the great gift that you have given to my family and the whole community by ensuring that Makunga spring has clean and safe flowing water," said 5-year-old Joy.

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 stones to break them down into the gravel. Because people have to carry most items by hand, the materials collection process can take anywhere from a few weeks to months.

When everything was prepared, 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! Women and men lent their strength to the artisan 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 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 the clay is in short supply) and placed it at a slight 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. These help discourage people and animals from standing on that area, which could cause soil erosion and thus a clogged drainage area.

With brickwork and stone pitching completed, we 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 stones with a thick plastic tarp to minimize potential contamination sources from aboveground, followed by a layer of soil. We piled enough soil 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 directly following training to mark the community's ownership of the water point. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day flowing in all directions.

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 Nelly Mtai and Olivia Bomji deployed to the site to lead the event. Sixteen people attended the training, including community-based leaders. The training took place under a tree outside Mr. Abraham Mukung's homestead. We decided to do the training outside to enjoy the fresh air and maintain physical distance.

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 can be used to start a community savings account for any future minor repairs to the spring and a cooperative lending group to enable members to develop small businesses.

One of the more memorable discussions during the training was related to spring maintenance. The men at the meeting believed that women are supposed to clean and take care of the spring because it's part of the house chores, but the women believed that men should also take responsibility for maintaining the spring. They finally agreed to work together to ensure that the spring is well maintained so that it will serve its purpose for the entire community.

"The training was one of a kind because we learned very important things that will help me and my family live a healthy life. Now I know the value of sanitation and hygiene, which I will put into practice. The training has also made me understand the myths and misconceptions about COVID-19. I will no longer ignore wearing a mask and washing hands. I will ensure that my family is protected by making sure they wear a mask, wash their hands frequently, and avoiding crowded places." commented Esther Omulindi, Secretary of the Water Committee.

When an issue arises concerning the water project, 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!

June, 2021: Mukunga Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Mukunga Spring is making people in Mwera, Kenya 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

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: Clean Water, Any Time!

July, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mwera 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 Mukunga Spring was protected last year, Mwera community was plagued by water-related diseases. When it rained, the water would become cloudy and brown with dirt, leaving people without access to water at all.

"Before the completion of the protected spring, when it rained, we could not get water from the spring because the water [would] become dirty," explained 18-year-old shop owner Zippy Ingosi.

But things have now changed for Zippy and other members of Mwera community. Because their spring is protected, the water isn't affected by weather any longer, just like Mwera's people aren't affected by waterborne illnesses.

"I can fetch water any time I want," Zippy said. "When it rains, I get water from the protected spring. I was using a lot of money for medication to treat typhoid, but I no longer go for medication now. I [drink] clean and safe water."

Lucky, a young boy from Mwera, collects water from the protected 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 Mwera 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 Mwera 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.


Yakima Foursquare Church
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