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: 04/04/2024

Project Features

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Shango Spring is located in rural Makale village, where a majority of the houses are semi-permanent and not connected to electricity. The roads are in good working condition thanks to the efforts of the area member of the county assembly, who has aided in this development. Most community members here practice sugarcane farming, though there are those who are employed as casual laborers at the West Kenya Sugar Factory while others engage in running small businesses. Makale community members are known for being a loving people who welcome visitors as they believe visitors are a blessing from God.

Shango Spring is the nearest and only year-round water source for 250 people in Makale, but the spring is not serving them well. The spring has no cut-off drainage above the spring, meaning most surface water drains into the spring when it rains. This runoff carries farm chemicals, residues from animal waste, and soil directly into the water people fetch.

The spring looks like a two-tier puddle. The upper tier is where the spring water (and runoff) pools. In this pool, algae, rotting plant matter, frogs, and insects call the water home. Community members tried to improvise a collection point by building a wall out of sticks, stones, and mud. They placed a discharge pipe in this wall to carry water out of the pool and into their jerrycans.

The water then creates the second tier of the puddle below the wall, where community members have to step in several inches of water and mud to reach the pipe. Without a drainage system in place, the stagnant water serves as a breeding ground for snakes and other animals, including mosquitoes that carry the dangerous disease malaria.

Typhoid has been rampant in the community, people reported, and it has been linked to the dirty spring water time and again. Typhoid is particularly expensive to treat, depleting families of their financial resources and taking them away from other productive work while they are sick. Adults lose time at their jobs and kids have to stay home from school, often falling behind in their lessons.

"Water from the spring is not safe for drinking. On several occasions, I have experienced sore throat issues and I link this to our spring waters," said Sabina, a pre-primary school-aged girl.

Accessibility is another major challenge at Shango Spring. In addition to the wet and muddy access point, the area around the spring is challenging to water users and there are no stairs guiding the path to the waterpoint. During the rainy season, community members said they sometimes slip and injure themselves, especially while trying to leave the spring carrying water, due to the path slick with mud.

"Accessing the spring has been a challenge to me, especially when it rains. On three occasions, I have slipped and injured myself forcing me to seek medical attention," said 52-year-old farmer Martin Musungu. These hospital visits compound families' time, energy, and money lost on treating their water-related illnesses.

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: Shango Spring Project Complete!

Makale Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Shango 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.

"Water is now safe for drinking as the catchment area has been protected. Cases of infections related to water will reduce in the future," shared Martin Musungu.

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

"Access to clean, safe water will ensure that I live a healthy life free of water-related diseases," said Timothy I., a local student.

He went on to say, "I see myself having ample time for my studies. I will no longer be wasting much time at the spring as the spring is now accessible."

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 Christine Luvandwa, Rose Amulavu, and Samuel Simidi deployed to the site to lead the event. Ten people attended the training, including village health volunteers. We held the training at Mr. Shango's homestead, accessible to participants, and allowed for on-site spring 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.

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.

The handwashing and soap-making sessions were popular with attendees, especially now that they have access to clean, safe water. Mary Bichage, a local farmer, shared, "The session was enriching to us. Being taken through the process of soapmaking will allow us to wash our hands using clean, running water and soap."

"Good hygiene practice is key so as to live a healthy life. Today's training has shed more light on how we need to maintain our hygiene and sanitation standards. We are going to extend this information to our members so that they continuously maintain good hygiene standards so as to live a healthy life," said Martin Musungu, a local farmer and the water committee chairperson.

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: Shango Spring Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Makale 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: "Our families are now safe."

January, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Makale Community 5.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Makale Community 5 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!

Last year, before Shango Spring was protected, accessing water was difficult for community members. No matter how hard they tried to implement solutions to their water problems, they were not working.

But once we protected their spring, things changed for those living in the community, and their water access problems became a thing of the past.

"I can fetch water at any time, whether it rains or not. The stairs are safe and not slippery as [the area] used to be. At my age, I can now get to the spring and fetch water without any challenge," said 13-year-old Emmanuel.

With improved ease of access, any amount of water needed can be collected, and it impacts the daily hygiene and sanitation practices of community members.

"My levels of cleanliness and hygiene have improved drastically. Nowadays I clean my uniform daily, and I even fetch water before and after school since it is so accessible," said Emmanuel.

Not only is the water easier to collect, but it is also much safer to consume.

"Consuming dirty water is now a thing of the past. The water is now clean and safe. No waterborne diseases, and [I] am so grateful. And our families are now safe since the water is also safe," shared 32-year-old farmer Ann Imbenzi.

With plenty of water and confidence that the water will not make them ill, Emmanuel and Ann can now focus on other essential things.

Ann and Emmanuel 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 Makale Community 5 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 Makale Community 5 – 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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