Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 200 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/02/2024

Project Features

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"It has been our desire to access clean water for so long...The spring has a lot of water, yes, but the challenge is it is open. At the same time, using a scooping jug is not a joke because a person gets tired. I feel for the disabled in our village because it forces one of us to help fill the container, then help them to carry water home. Protecting this spring will be our dream come true," said Mrs. Agnes Musira, a farmer and mother living in Makunga Community.

Agnes is just 1 of the 200 people in Makunga who depend on Tabarachi Spring for water. The spring is not serving them well, however, due to its highly contaminated water and poor accessibility.

Community members here fetch water in the morning and evening, and as per the daily routine, there is guaranteed overcrowding, fights, and conflicts at the spring. These issues are exacerbated during the dry season when people from other villages come to Tabarachi Spring for its reliable water. The fights often start when someone blames the last person who fetched water of muddying the water or taking too long; in either case, everyone else has to wait even longer for the water to settle a little before fetching.

To fetch water, people must either submerge their jerrycan or fetch water using a smaller jug first which they then pour into their larger container. If too many people try to fetch water without letting the water rest, the spring water becomes too dirty to fetch. There is so much time wasted every day at the spring that could better be spent on productive work. Everyone just wants to bring clean water home so they can get on with the rest of their day.

Tabarachi Spring is full of harmful contaminants including green algae, water plants, bugs, and rotting leaves. Runoff from the rains carries farm chemicals, soil, and animal waste into the water. And when people fetch it, their containers, shoes, feet, and hands all add dirt and bacteria into the water.

Community members here report a high rate of typhoid and diarrhea among families who depend on this spring, especially among children. Sometimes people develop itchy skin and rashes after stepping in the water or using it to bathe; this gets worse when a lot of algae appears in the water. People lose their resources trying to pay for medical treatment for their water-related diseases. Adults also miss out on productive work time, while kids have to stay home from school every time they are sick. Some illnesses can last for weeks or even months in their worst form, especially when families cannot afford to pay for the medicine.

Access is the other major issue at Tabarachi Spring. Community members placed a wooden plank across the spring to try to keep them perched above water while they fetch it, but the board quickly and frequently rots no matter how often they replace it. Due to the near-constant queue of people fetching water, the wood also grows slick with water and algae of its own. Some people choose to simply stand in the water while they fetch it instead of risking a fall off the board that could lead to injuries and spilled water. The latest version of the plank we saw during our last visit was almost entirely submerged from use anyway, leaving community members with only a few small rocks to balance on.

"We will really enjoy fetching water if the spring is protected. The fear of falling inside the water will be in the past," said a hopeful Elvis, 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. 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: Tabarachi Spring Protection Complete!

Makunga Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Tabarachi 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 safety and health of my children because clean and safe water will be flowing all the time," said Philip Tabarachi, a local farmer, the chairperson of the newly elected water user committee, and the spring's namesake.

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

"My life has changed completely because I will no longer be wasting time queueing at the spring," said 10-year-old Brian.

Brian at the spring.

"I will be doing my homework on time, because I have more time now than before when the spring was unprotected."

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.

Community members contributing hard work.

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.

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. Philip Tabarachi helped us find a venue and gather his neighbors. 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. 16 people attended the training, which we held at Philip Tabarachi's compound, which allowed for plenty of light and natural ventilation.

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.

The community members asked what a person does if someone from their household contracts COVID-19. This was because they wouldn't have anywhere to isolate the patient. Their only solution would be to leave and wait for the patient to recover as they sought shelter somewhere else.

The participants also learned why frequent and proper hand hygiene is important during this pandemic. They were surprised handwashing is the most important measure that can be used to prevent infection. They promised to make hand hygiene their first priority because they do not want to lose any members of their family.

"The training made me understand that COVID-19 is real. We had not done anything (about the virus) except having masks in our pockets instead of wearing them," said Joyce Vuyukha, a local farmer and businesswoman. "To protect myself and those around me, I must follow all the ministry of health guidelines."


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.

"The training was so valuable to me because I learned more about sanitation and hygiene," Philip Tabarachi said. "The training changed the way I did some things. From today, I will ensure that my family eats healthy food and stays in a clean environment."

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.

"Fetching water directly from the pipe is a great feeling because the water is clean," Brian concluded. "No more use of scooping jugs and waste of time at the spring."

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: Tabarachi Spring Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Makunga 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: "It's a breeze!"

September, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Makunga 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 Makunga Community, fetching water was an arduous task. And the water people tried to scoop up so carefully, and which they waited in lines to collect, still made everyone sick.

"We used to scoop water, and it had dirt and insects inside of it," said eight-year-old Agnes. "We also had to take turns to wait for the water to settle and be clean."

"We used to scoop water, using a bowl to pour [it] into our jerrycans," added 35-year-old Phillip Tabarachi, the chairman of the water user committee. "This usually led to fetching dirty water. Even then, we had to give it time to settle so as to try and scoop clean water."

But now, when we asked Agnes and Phillip about the water situation in their community, they had very different things to say.

"It is easy as it is clean water flowing," Agnes said. "We even drink directly from the discharge pipe. No need to go and sieve it at home or wait for it to be boiled."

"It's a breeze!" said Phillip.

The ease of collecting and drinking water has made everyone's lives in Makunga so much easier.

"I have been able to maintain a clean pair of school uniforms easily as the water is always available," Agnes said. "Since [the spring's] protection, we have also not been sick in our family, which is a good thing."

Phillip said: "I can open my shop in good time, as it is easy to get water in the morning and get to the shop early and catch the early customers. It used to take me a lot of time in the morning: get water for myself, for my livestock, then leave for work."

Thank you for providing reliable and clean water and sowing such positive change in Agnes' and Phillip's lives. With more time and healthier bodies, we are very excited to see what they can accomplish.

Our field officer (left) stands with Phillip (center) and Agnes (right) 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 Makunga 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 Makunga 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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