Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 354 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/04/2024

Project Features

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Malekha Central Community is an area with a rural set up enclosed with rocks and hills. The landscape is geographically attractive for domestic and international tourists alike as it is believed to be ancestral lands. Modern ways of construction have not been adopted yet as there are still mostly the traditional, grass-thatched houses here. Agriculture is strongly embraced as sugarcane is planted on a large scale while maize, beans, and horticulture practiced on a small scale.

In Malekha Central Community, Misiko Spring serves as the primary water source for 354 people. But the spring is an open water source, leading to a continuous inflow of soil, waste products from animals, and even farm chemicals brought in with runoff from the rains.

Water from Misiko Spring is not fit for consumption, but without another option, families face high rates of water-related illnesses after drinking this water. People most frequently report cases of bilharzia, cholera, and typhoid after drinking this spring water, and jiggers from poor hygiene levels.

"For ages 'till now we are being hard hit by this major challenge; it has been difficult to regain all that has been lost for those who have suffered from the waterborne diseases like me. All our income has been used to finance the medical assistance we get. Our businesses have been greatly affected too; agriculture is also on the collapsing end as human labor has dropped" as a result of the high number of sick people, said 32-year-old farmer John Lumbasi.

When people are sick, they not only have to redirect financial resources to pay for treatment, but they also miss out on the energy and time needed for productive work. Children and adults are impacted in different ways, but both age groups are kept from their daily activities when they have to stay home because they are either sick or falling behind in personal hygiene.

"We have many things surrounding us that really affect our lives as pupils due to lack of enough clean and safe water," said primary school student Esther.

"Concentrating on academic work has been highly reduced compared to pupils from other areas, as we are always worried where we'll access clean water. It affects the academic performance of individuals, hence we get poor grades. Some are often absent from school as they can't do regular bathing. The hygiene standards are low as pupils cannot do normal manual cleaning due to lack of enough water."

Accessibility is the other major issue at Misiko Spring. The continuous siltation of the spring from the rains leads to the growth of water lilies, thereby reducing the area community members can access for water collection. And to fetch water, people must scoop water with small jugs or bowls to then pour into their larger jerrycans. The scoop-pour method is time-consuming and frustrating as crowds build up at the spring. If too many people try to fetch at once or too quickly in succession, extra mud is stirred up from the bottom of the spring. The containers people have to dip into the water also deposit any dirt and bacteria from the jugs and people's hands directly into the water they are collecting, further contaminating it.

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

June, 2021: Misiko Spring Project Complete!

Malekha Central Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Misiko 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.

Community members express their thanks at the protected spring.

"Access to clean and safe water will promote good health and long life, therefore, minimizing frequent visits to the hospital seeking treatment. It also empowers individuals as the little money they have is used for development purposes," said Titus Misiko, a businessperson in the community.

"Many people will be safe. For example, those doing agriculture will do their planning with no water issues. The community will also do their daily routines. Life will change, and a short time will be used in collecting water, hence achieving my target of doing agriculture and business practices to enhance my living," he added.

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

"The fact that we can now access clean and safe water means the levels of hygiene will improve in the community. Health issues will be minimal compared to the past. Our empowerment program will grow effectively, leading to development in the community," said a young Shem.

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.

Pouring the foundation

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.

Bricklaying begins

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.

Setting the pipe

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 slightly incline to ensure water flows in the right direction.

Stairs construction

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 people and animals from standing on that area, which could cause soil erosion and thus a clogged drainage area.

Stone pitching

We turned to cementing and plastering both sides of the headwall and wing walls with brickwork and stone pitching completed. 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.

Affixing the tiles

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.

Installing the fence

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.

Planting grass and working on the fence.

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.

Community members had an opportunity to wash hands, splash and collect water, and pose for pictures as the facilitator led the handing-over ceremony. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day flowing in all directions.

An elder and Director Catherine Chepkemoi enjoy a light moment upon the spring's completion.

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.

A facilitator demonstrates the ten steps of handwashing as community members follow along.

When the day arrived, facilitators Victor Musemi and Samuel Simidi deployed to the site to lead the event. 26 people attended the training, including community-based leaders and village health volunteers. The day looked good with a sunny and cloudy morning, but in the afternoon, the rain started. The training session started well as we conducted it outside near the spring, which was good for practical demonstrations and COVID-19 preventive measures.

Handwashing demonstration

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.

Community members learn how to clean the spring as part of the site maintenance training session.

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.

Hands-free alternate greeting demonstration.

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.

Contactless greeting demonstration.

Contactless greetings were the most memorable session of the day. Under this topic, the facilitator tried and shared alternative forms of greetings, and these to many present were a surprise. People said they could not believe the contactless and hands-free greetings at first because, traditionally, they knew they should offer contact such as a handshake or hug so that the other person feels you have received their greeting and were not too proud. But, due to COVID-19 measures, hugging and touching someone's hand is not allowed, and this raised concerns among the young children, especially those who used to hug one another without fearing anyone.

Mask-wearing and handling session

Learning how to cough using the elbow was another memorable session. Under this topic, many community members at first demonstrated other ways of coughing that raised concerns among the elders as most older people were using a handkerchief. Others used their hands to sneeze into which was not healthy for others, especially when attending a funeral as a majority of them could not wash their hands frequently at such events. Afterward, we showed the group how to cough and sneeze using their flexed elbow, and they promised to practice it as it ensures that no one would be touching any surface after sneezing with dirty hands.

John Nakuru at the spring

"To me, it was a moment for a change. The training was good. I learned many things concerning hygiene and sanitation which will shape the way I normally do things and also, educating others will be a priority," said farmer John Nakuru.

"Knowledge is power as far as hygiene and sanitation skills are concerned, and I know I am in a better position to help others. This will also help me to understand the importance of living a healthy life and also minimize the risk of contracting the bacteria-caused diseases through poor hygiene," said Miriam Josina, also a farmer.

"Since the breakout of the COVID-19 virus, the health worker volunteers have been creating awareness by putting out measures to curb the spread, which include social distancing, handwashing, wearing masks, etc. Addressing myths and rumors about COVID-19, the facilitator explained the meaning of the COVID-19 disease. At first, participants really couldn't understand as most of them believed that the virus only affects white-skinned people compared to black-skinned people.

Many participants laughed at one another without knowing the dangers of COVID-19, but after the facilitator tried to convince the group, everybody made up their minds and realized that it's good to adhere to COVID-19 containment measures," Miriam explained, citing a commonly held myth in the region.

"The measures taken into consideration are good for the entire community. This will ensure that there is no spread of the virus amongst ourselves," she concluded.

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!

May, 2021: Misiko Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Misiko Spring is making people in Malekha Central, 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: More Time to Read!

July, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Malekha Central 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 asked 15-year-old Christine N. how difficult it was to collect water before we protected Misiko Spring last year.

"We used to fetch water with bowls, but we had to take turns, as the person who fetched before you would always dirtify the water," said Christine.

But things have changed for Christine and others in the community of Malekha.

"Getting water is now very easy because we have a pipe. The water is clean, and we also have chlorine to treat it," Christine said.

We asked her how she feels things are different for her now, and she said, "I would say being consistent in my studies, indirectly, because it takes a short time to fetch water. The water does not need to be sieved. It is easy to get the water, and it does not make us sick. That has helped me get some time to read."

Christine 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 Malekha Central 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 Malekha Central 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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