Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 210 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Dec 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/02/2024

Project Features

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"Drawing water from the unprotected spring has been so difficult and tiresome. My family has contracted waterborne and water-related diseases which have caused massive use of resources to cater to their medications," said Mary Wesaya, a 40-year-old farmer and mother in Lunyinya.

"Accessing water from the unprotected spring has really affected my health. Most of the time I have had stomach problems and diarrhea. This has resulted in continuous absenteeism from school resulting in poor performance," said young teenager Ivy.

Mary and Ivy are just 2 of the 210 people living in Lunyinya who depend on unprotected John Wesaya Spring for water. Their accounts of how the contaminated spring water negatively impacts their lives are, unfortunately, not unique within the community. The spring's dirty water drives cases of typhoid and diarrhea, costing families their health, energy, time for productive activities, and financial resources.

Fetching water at the spring is not easy. The water forms a large open pool where it comes to the earth's surface. Community members laid a small log and some stones at the water's edge where they try to balance while fetching water. The narrow access point is constantly wet and very slippery. Falling into the water while trying to fetch it, especially among children, is not unheard of.

To fetch water, community members rely on submerging their jerrycans or scooping the pooled water with bowls and small jugs to pour into their jerrycans. However they manage it, fetching water is always a time-consuming and tiring process. If they fetch too quickly or if too many people fetch in a row, the algae, rotten leaves, and muck at the bottom of the pooled water get stirred up into the water. When this happens, people have to wait for the water to settle before they can begin fetching it again.

Many women try to be at the spring at dawn to be the first of the day, hoping to fetch the cleanest water possible and avoid the crowds. As one of the only year-round water sources in the area, however, crowds gather during the dry season when other communities' water sources dry up. This slows people down even more, costing them in the rest of their day's planned activities and work.

The Lunyinya area is full of sugarcane and sweet potato plantations, both grown as cash crops. The community is well-known for its residents' peace and unity.

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

December, 2021: John Wesaya Spring Project Complete!

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

Mary Wesaya, a farmer from the community, shared how the completed spring will improve her family's health and income earning potential. "My family and I will live a healthy life without fear of getting sick from waterborne diseases. I will no longer be spending money at [the] hospital. Instead, I will be using the money to make soap. This will enable me to earn income to support my family."

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

Rian O., a student, shared his excitement about the ease of collecting water from the completed spring. "I will no longer fear going to the spring to fetch water but enjoy [it] because fetching water directly from the pipe is fun, secure, and fulfilling. I will be able to concentrate on my homework more than thinking about how I will get clean water from the spring."

Rian at the spring.

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 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.

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 Victor Musemi deployed to the site to lead the event. 24 people attended the training, including 17 women and seven men, some being community-based leaders.

We held the training outside Mr. John Wesaya's homestead, the spring's namesake. It accommodated every participant maintaining a safe physical distance while enjoying the natural cool breeze and fresh air.

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.

Another favorite session was soap making. The participants were anxious to learn and see if really the facilitator's knew how to make soap. According to them, they believed that making soap required machines and electricity. They were surprised how easily soap could be made locally. They were so happy and promised not to buy expensive soap from vendors again rather they will be making their own soap and even selling it to increase their incomes.

Mary Wesaya shared what she learned during the training, "This training was my eye-opener because being a wife and mother, I have to take precautions to protect my family. Taking precautions means, my children and my husband put on their masks, [and] carry a hand sanitizer when going out."

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!

August, 2021: John Wesaya 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 Videos

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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: More Time for Books!

January, 2023

A year ago, your generous donation helped Lunyinya Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Cecelia. 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 3.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Lunyinya Community 3 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 John Wesaya Spring was protected last year, community members used to struggle to collect water safely.

"I one day fell into the unprotected spring after it had rained and hurt my leg. I also got [the] flu sometime back when I drank water from this water point," said 12-year-old Cecelia A.

But the spring's protection has changed things and made it less risky to collect water now.

"Since there is a staircase on this spring, I comfortably fetch water without any worry of slipping and falling down at the spring. I'm also free from some sickness since the spring is protected from contamination," said Cecelia.

Not only is it easier to physically access the spring, but people are also saving time collecting water now that the water flows correctly.

"I have saved so much time and instead spend it on books," concluded Cecelia.

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 3 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 3 – 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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