Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 350 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/05/2024

Project Features

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Located in the environs of Western Kenya, Shianda village is surrounded by sugarcane plantations as they are the primary source of commercial activity in the area. The community has a rural set-up, with a majority of the houses being semi-permanent and grass-thatched. A few homes are connected to electricity. The roads leading here are in good condition, allowing community members to access the town center.

350 people in Shianda depend on Mukeya Spring for water, though it is unprotected and its water, consequently, contaminated. Fetching water from the unprotected spring is difficult due to its poor access area and lack of a discharge pipe. We found a large crowd ready to fetch water during our visit at the spring for this report. But without an efficient way to fetch water, people were left scrambling at the water point leading to time wastage and even injuries in their squabbles. The time wastage is so bad that children, who traditionally must wait for adults to collect water first, often miss school entirely because they are stuck at the end of the water line.

The area leading up to the spring is slick with mud. Community members must step into the shallow pool of water that forms below the main access area to the spring, sinking into the mud while they wait. Two improvised discharge pipes exist at the spring; one is an old plastic container cut into an open halfpipe, while the other is a small metal pipe. Both are lodged directly into the earth where the spring's water comes to the surface, but the metal pipe is so low community members cannot even fit their jerrycans beneath it. It also captures a minimal amount of water.

The tricky access area worsens during the frequent and heavy rains, sometimes leading to injuries as people try to leave the waterpoint.

"This water point is the main source of our water. Though serving a large population, it has got its own challenges. Accessing the spring has been a challenge to me, especially when it rains. I have once broken my leg while searching for this precious commodity, forcing me to stay home for a long time nursing my injuries. This really affected my business," said Ruth Mmasi, a 44-year-old businessperson in the community.

Most community members choose to fill their containers using the piece of cut plastic as a spout. The plastic is dirty with algae and settled soil and sand, and it misses a lot of the spring's natural yield. This slows people down as they fetch water, thus leading to the frustrated crowds we witnessed. The more time spent at the spring each day means less time for farming, house chores, going to work, and child care.

Because the spring is open, rainwater seeps into the ground and mixes with the spring water. This runoff carries farm chemicals, animal waste, and extra soil directly into the drinking water. Community members report frequent cases of typhoid and cholera related to the condition of the spring. Families lose many financial resources trying to pay for the medication and hospital visits these waterborne illnesses require. Adults also miss out on their productive time while kids have to stay home from school, falling behind in their studies.

Currently, the community is trying to observe proper hygiene and sanitation standards. But they are not able to meet those standards without a sufficient supply of clean water. Sometimes, tasks like washing dishes, laundry, general household cleaning, and even handwashing are sacrificed because women cannot waste any more of their day at the spring.

"As a small child, I am forced to recycle my clothes at least twice; that is when my mother is now able to give me another set of clean clothes to put on," said young primary school-aged student Purity.

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. Therefore, protecting the spring and offering training and support will 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 training 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, which 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 to 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 the 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 handling, storing, and treating water. Having a clean water source will be extremely helpful, but it is useless if water gets contaminated by the time it is consumed. The community and we 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 training 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 spring's operations and maintenance. 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

April, 2021: Mukeya Spring Project Complete!

Shianda Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Mukeya 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.

A woman raises a glass of water from the protected spring.

"We anticipate a reduction in infections related to water. Living a healthy life will ensure the productivity of our members and, in the end, we will live a good life. Installation of the facility will allow members to draw water easily and fast, thus avoiding time wastage at the spring. We will now be able to access the spring at any given time due to much improvement in security," said Elizabeth Mukeya, the spring's elected Chair and a businessperson in the community.

Elizabeth Mukeya celebrates the completed spring.

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 infections. This water point will help me realize the hope for a better future. I see myself having much time for my studies while at home," said a young Jacinda.

Children fetch and drink water from the spring.

Preparing for Spring Protection

Community members worked together to source and carried 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. 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.

Brick laying on 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.

Stairs construction

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.

Pipe setting

If the discharge pipe were placed 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.

Stone pitching

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 to discourage people and animals from trying to stand 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.

Tile setting

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.

A woman celebrates the completed spring.

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.

Thomas splashes water in celebration.

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, who will relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

Trainer Sam teaches solar disinfection as a method of water treatment.

When the day arrived facilitators Samuel Simidi and Christine Masinde deployed to the site to lead the event. Sixteen people attended the training including community-based leaders. We held the training at Mr. Mukeya's homestead as it was convenient to all and did allow for on-site demonstrations at the nearby spring. Hot would be ideal to describe the weather of the day!

Elizabeth Mukeya demonstrates toothbrushing during the dental hygiene session.

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 also left behind a rice sack painted with messages of COVID-19 prevention reminders in the local language. We affixed the sign to the spring's fence during training and encouraged community members to use it as a daily reminder to stay cautious both at home and at the spring.

Trainer Sam pours water as a community member practices the ten steps of handwashing.

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. We held an election for the newly formed water user committee leaders during the leadership and governance session. The election process was intense because in every position there were three to four members contesting for the spot. After an intense and vigorous election process, leaders for the various positions were elected fairly.

Trainer Christine demonstrates how to sew a homemade mask.

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.

"Today's training has been very enriching to us, the beneficiaries. Personally, I haven't been keen when it comes to good hygiene standards. I have promised to change by maintaining the standards recommended. A lot has been taught in the training and whoever has ears has heard and indeed will see to it that their hygiene and sanitation standards are at par," said Ruth Juma, the spring's elected Secretary and a businessperson in the community.

Community members practice the ten steps of handwashing.

"COVID-19 being here with us, it is helpful to us when regular sensitization programs are carried out in our community," said Elizabeth Mukeya, a businessperson in the community and the elected Chair of the water user committee.

"Most of us still didn't believe that COVID-19 was real. Today's training has revealed quite a lot and as beneficiaries, we will ensure that the community is free of infection by ensuring that all the regulations laid down by the Ministry of Health are adhered to. Being reminded about COVID-19 regulations is indeed a plus to me and the entire community members," she said.

Trainer Sam teaches how to make a simple kitchen garden using drip irrigation.

"As a community, we have been encouraging our members to always install handwashing facilities at the entrance of their homes to allow visitors to wash their hands before interacting with them. Wearing masks and social distancing, especially in gatherings, has always been encouraged."

"We have been taught how to make masks by ourselves and this has been very encouraging. Most of us have been avoiding wearing masks, claiming they are expensive, but from today we promise to make ours and always wear them," Elizabeth added.

Mr. Mukeya washing his hands at the spring.

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!

March, 2021: Mukeya Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Mukeya Spring is making people in Shianda, 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: No More Slipping in Mud!

April, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shianda Commnity 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!

Elizabeth Mmasi, 18, shared her feelings about collecting water before the spring in her community was protected last year. "It was hard to get water from the spring because the area was muddy and slippery."

But since the spring protection, she can now quickly and safely access water and not resort to other options. This has saved her valuable time that she can commit to other things.

"I no longer have to spend hours walking for water. Instead, I have time to help my siblings do their homework," said Elizabeth.

Not only can Elizabeth help her siblings, but now she also has time to dedicate to her studies. And hopefully, being able to focus more on school will give her a brighter future.

"It has helped me to concentrate more on my school work because I no longer waste time at the spring," shared Elizabeth.

Elizabeth happy for access to clean water 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 Shianda Commnity 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 Shianda Commnity 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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