Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 300 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/05/2024

Project Features

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"Fetching water from the spring is not enjoyable at all because, being young, we are forced to step inside the water as we fetch at the same time. This means we are taking home dirty water, but because we need water, we have no other options," said Anyango, a primary school-aged girl in Shianda who, along with some 300 other people in the area, depends on Mucharia Spring for water.

The spring's landowner, Mr. Wycliffe Mucharia, knows his spring is not providing his community with clean and safe water, but he has not had the resources to improve it on his own.

"The spring being open has forced us to endure consuming dirty water although we know that the water is not safe  - but we have no choice."

The water at the spring is most contaminated during the rainy season when runoff directs soil, animal waste, and farm chemicals into the water. In all seasons, animals can walk straight through the pool of water community members collect from, drinking from the source and leaving their waste behind. Algae, water plants, and insects are constant companions in the spring.

Many of the community members and especially children have been treated for typhoid and diarrhea after consuming dirty water from Mucharia Spring. Women pray that the spring will be protected soon so that their children will no longer visit the hospital as they used to, they told us. Medicine and hospital visits drain families of their financial resources that were intended for other uses. When sick, adults miss out on productive work time, and kids have to stay home from school. Everyone is being held back by this spring who uses it.

Access is the other major challenge at Mucharia Spring. To fetch water, people must either stand directly in the water they are fetching or try to balance on a few slippery stones. Then, they have to scoop the water from the surface using small jugs or bowls to then pour into their larger jerrycans.

The scoop-pour method is time-consuming and tiring, and crowds are constant as people wait their turn to fetch water. While most women would prefer to fetch water in the morning so they can attend to the rest of their daily activities, this is not the routine at Mucharia Spring. Instead, women here are forced to fetch water in the morning, noon, and evening due to the long lines.

As people wait, many conflicts arise because each person wants to fetch water quickly so they can get on with their day. There is also some competition as the more people fetch water, the more mud gets churned up in the water and the longer people have to wait for it to settle before fetching can begin again.

Cleaning the spring after the rains is another issue as the entire area can become filled in with eroded soil and other debris. Clearing the spring takes a lot of time and energy and is left for the women to attend to. But they are already losing so much of their day to fetching water that no one wants to sacrifice more of their day to the extra work at the spring.

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

October, 2021: Shianda Community, Mucharia Spring Protection Complete!

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

"My family will no longer use a scoop-and-pour method or standing in water while fetching. It's now in the past," Wycliffe Mucharia (the spring's namesake) said. "We collect water directly from the pipe and from a clean environment."

Wycliffe at the spring.

"This water point will help me improve general sanitation and hygiene in my family and help the community, too," Wycliffe continued. "Access to clean water promotes good health and hygiene all the time."

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

"I will enjoy fetching water now that clean water is coming directly from the pipe," said Mercy A. "[I] am sure I will have more time to do my school assignments and not spend [so] much time queueing just [to] get water."

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.

The diversion channel flowing.

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 Christine Masinde deployed to the site to lead the event. 17 people attended the training, including nine women and eight men. We held the training at Wycliffe's house under the shade of an obliging tree.

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 discovered that the village had not implemented any preventative measures for COVID-19 except to carry masks in their pockets to put on in case they encountered their chief. They thought COVID-19 affects only people in urban areas. After a long discussion, they learned that COVID-19 is real.

"The training made me understand and learn more about coronavirus," Wycliffe said. "We will ensure that every household has a leaky tin with soap to wash hands since we have learned how to make one. We will ensure that everyone follows COVID-19 guidelines and regulations by wearing masks, washing hands, and keeping physical distancing when in crowded places."

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 made me realize that I have been ignorant about general sanitation and hygiene and that's why I've always been sick," Wycliffe said.

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.

Shianda community members' favorite topic was soap-making. They were excited to learn that they could make soap themselves without using electricity or heavy machines.

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!

September, 2021: Mucharia Spring Protection Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Shianda 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: "I am just happy."

December, 2022

A year ago, your generous donation helped Shianda Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Faith. 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 Community 10.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shianda Community 10 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 Shianda, fetching water for community members was an arduous, time-consuming task. First, they would have to wait in line. Then, when it was their turn, they had to stand on slippery rocks placed in the water, scooping water from the surface and pouring it into their jugs. This painstaking process was meant to keep dirt and algae from entering their water jugs. If someone fetched water without care, it would muddy the water for the next person in line.

They would repeat this process multiple times per day, which left them without time for other tasks.

"We fetched water from the small pool dug for us to fetch from," said 10-year-old Faith.

Since the spring's protection, however, everything has been made easier. People expend so much less energy fetching water because all they have to do is place their jerrycans beneath the discharge pipe and go.

"We use stairs to access [the] water, fetch [it], and go home easily," Faith said. "People fetch water without making the water dirty. The water flows smoothly [as] well."

The improvement has improved moods and lessened the amount of time taken for chores all over Shianda.

"[I] am just happy," Faith said. "Since the day [the] spring was constructed, we [have] played with [the] water, enjoying the flow and how clean it was. I wash [our] utensils (dishes) every day using this water."

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 Community 10 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 Community 10 – 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.


St. Therese Foundation