Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 320 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/02/2024

Project Features

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"I waste a lot of time collecting water during the dry season due to overcrowding. Since the spring is unprotected, animals can access the spring, which makes it contaminated because sometimes we find fecal matter very close to the spring. My family and I suffer from diarrhea from time to time, and medication is expensive for me," said Lois Philis Aromba, a 49-year-old farmer in Lunyinya, referring to her water source, Ngaiywa Spring.

Lois is one of 320 people in Lunyinya who depend on Ngaiywa Spring as their primary water source, but the spring cannot produce clean water in its current state. As it stands, Ngaiywa Spring provides a shadow to a past attempt at spring protection some time ago. But that attempt was not made to standard, and it quickly fell apart, leaving community members with a difficult-to-access spring and dirty water once again.

Today, the discharge pipe sits in a gaping hole surrounded by mud, clay, and green growths. Without separation between the outside environment and both ends of the pipe, the water is exposed to animal waste, soil erosion, and farm chemicals carried by runoff from the rains. As a result of depending on dirty water for daily use, community members report constant coughs, colds, and diarrhea.

When people fall ill due to consuming the spring water, families lose precious resources trying to pay for medicine and hospital visits. Time spent at home sick means time lost at work among adults and in school for children.

Access is the other major challenge at Ngaiywa Spring. Since the past construction work broke down, eroded bricks stick out at random. Without a proper drainage system, the ground beneath the pipe fills with water and silt several inches deep.

"The water point looks pathetic, and I step in dirty water to fetch water. Accessibility is difficult, especially when it is overcrowded during the dry season because people from different areas come to collect water at this point," said primary school-aged student Purity.

Ngaiywa Spring is known for its reliable water even when other springs in the area go seasonally dry, hence the crowds both Lois and Purity mention. But without a correctly placed discharge pipe and backfilled system behind it, the current pipe is missing a lot of the water the spring produces. The limited output slows community members down as they wait for their jerrycans to fill, eating away at the time they have for the rest of their daily activities.

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 a 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 ensure participants have the knowledge they need about healthy practices and their importance to make the most of their water points 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

November, 2021: Ngaiywa Spring Project Complete!

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

"This will help me achieve good hygiene and sanitation standards. Being healthy means, I'll be able to take good care of myself and my family. My children will also be safe from waterborne diseases and will fully concentrate on their studies," said Mable Muhonja, a female farmer in the community.

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

"This water point will help me to quickly access water therefore, time previously wasted collecting water will be diverted to my academics. Previously cases of complications arising from the water were common. After protecting the spring, I'm sure it will be a story of the past," said Antony C., age 12.

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.

A fence post for the project.

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 a community elder, we found the preferred date for training while considering other community calendar events, such as the agricultural season and social events. The village elder chose participants from households consuming the water from the spring to attend training and relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

When the day arrived, facilitators Amos Emisiko and Afuya Elvis deployed to the site to lead the event. Nineteen (19) people attended the training, 11 women and eight men, including community-based leaders. We held the training outdoors under a shade tree at one of the water users' homesteads. We expected more community members for the training, but several men could not attend due to an unexpected funeral ceremony in a neighboring village.

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.

A community member practicing dental hygiene.

The participants were engaged as they learned about dental hygiene and the benefit of using a toothbrush and toothpaste. Many of them acknowledged they rarely brush their teeth using those tools but were glad to learn how to use a toothbrush and toothpaste correctly. With new toothbrushes in hand distributed by the trainers, they promised to adopt the techniques shown.

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.

Learning to make soap.

The newly appointed secretary of the water user committee, Mable Muhonja, was excited to share her experience with the training, "It was very valuable to me. It will help me save on soap buying expenses. I have also learnt how to correctly brush my teeth using a toothbrush and toothpaste. I will brush that way and also show that to my children at home."

Enjoying clean water to drink!

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!

October, 2021: Lunyinya Community, Ngaiywa 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 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 no longer get sick."

February, 2023

A year ago, your generous donation helped Lunyinya Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for John. 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 2.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Lunyinya Community 2 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!

The community members of Lunyinya used to do their best to collect water from Ngaiywa Spring, but the water was contaminated, and the spring was dangerous to access.

"I used to have a tough time accessing water because it was slippery around the spring, and once I slipped with water and hurt my knee," said ten-year-old John O. "I no longer get sick, and also, I have never fallen into the water point after fetching water due to the presence of [the] well-constructed stairs."

When we asked John how else spring protection had helped him, he said it has also saved him time, so he can study.

"This is simply because I no longer scoop water using a jug, and also, the time wasted fetching water is now used to study and also do my assignments," concluded John.

John by the protected 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 Lunyinya Community 2 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 2 – 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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