Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jul 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/05/2024

Project Features

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Govet Lumbasi Spring is a permanent water source that serves a large population - about 500 people in the Shianda Community. But currently, the spring is exposed to contaminants as the catchment area has not been protected, and its yield is only being partially captured.

The most common pollutants are carried into the spring water through runoff, which seeps into the ground and flows out through the spring's makeshift pipe. Farm chemicals, animal waste, and eroded soil are the primary concerns. The area around the spring is not clean either, contributing to the contamination. Community members report frequent cases of typhoid and cholera among families who depend on this spring, which are expensive to treat. Time spent at home and in the hospital while sick means less productive time for adults and missed classes for children, causing them to fall behind in school.

"Water from the spring is not safe for me as the catchment area has been exposed to contaminants. Twice I have contracted typhoid and this I relate to the water from our spring, for we at times cannot afford treating the water we drink," said young primary school-aged student Shirleen.

Accessibility is the other big challenge at Govet Lumbasi Spring. There are no stairs guiding the path to the spring, so it becomes challenging, especially during the rainy season, for people to enter and exit the wet, slippery area. The access point is defined by a constant pool of water that people have to stand in to fetch water, with soft sand and mud in every direction. Occasionally, community members slip and injure themselves while trying to leave the spring, forcing them to seek medical attention. This wastes more of their time, energy, and financial resources.

To aid in fetching water, the community improvised a discharge pipe by lodging it directly into the earth near where the spring water comes to the surface of the ground. But a lot of water escapes around the pipe, which means slower fill times and long lines at the spring. Time spent waiting at the spring eats into community members' time as a majority of them are employed in the nearby town and would wish to report to their work stations in time. The overcrowding gets worse during weekends and holiday seasons.

"Having not been protected, l waste much time drawing water from the spring due to the low discharge as we have not been able to tap most of the water. Occasionally I report to my workplace very late," said a concerned Nasiche Atswenje, a 62-year-old farmer living in the community.

Currently, the community is trying to observe proper hygiene and sanitation standards. But since they are limited in how much water they are able to collect each day due to the limited yield and resulting slower fill times at the spring, they are not meeting those standards and their health is being compromised.

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

July, 2021: Govet Lumbasi Spring Project Complete!

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

Miriam Indasi, a 90-year-old local farmer, said, "The protected spring will help me access safe and clean water. It will be convenient to draw water from the protected spring at my age, unlike in the past where the queue was long. I will have time to be involved in other viable economic activities."

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

When asked what this water point means to him, Grifeen Kesholi, a 14-year-old young man from the community, said, "I will readily access clean and safe drinking water. I will also easily draw water from the protected spring for other domestic uses. There will be sufficiency of water supply and reduced outbreaks of water-borne diseases in our community."

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. 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 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 the clay is in short supply) and placed it at a slight 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. These help discourage people and animals from standing on that area, which could cause soil erosion and thus a clogged drainage area.

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.

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.

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.

Men and women of the community came in large numbers to celebrate at the new water point, sang songs, and danced at the completion of the spring.

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 Rose Amulavu and Mary Afandi deployed to the site to lead the event. Twenty-seven people attended the training, including several community-based leaders. We held the training in an open field under the trees with space to accommodate every participant and maintain physical distancing.

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. The participants were excited after being taught how to make face masks using locally available resources. This will help in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the making of masks, the community members will earn extra income by selling them.

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.

Dental Hygiene

We also brainstormed income-generating activities that they can use 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.

"The training was valuable to me because I have been taught how to make masks using locally available materials which I decided to make for my family. It was hard to access a supermarket without a mask. It was a must when you go out. I've learned COVID-19 is real and a big threat to humanity. Each person needs to take control of their own life. I was taught how the minimize the spread of the virus. With the information and knowledge gained, I will endeavor to do my best to control the virus," said Jane Astwenje, a local businesswoman and the chairperson of the water committee.

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!

June, 2021: Govet Lumbasi Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Govet Lumbasi 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: Accessibility is the Song of the Community

July, 2022

A year ago, your generous donation helped Shianda Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Elly. 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 7.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shianda Community 7 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 the completion of the [protected] spring, the spring was open to contamination, which was risky to the community members," said 20-year-old tailor, Esther Maongo. "Typhoid was the song [of] the community."

Before its protection last year, Govet Lumbasi Spring constantly infected its community members with water-related diseases. And during the rainy seasons, the surrounding area was always slick with mud.

"It was hard to fetch water after school because the place was slippery," said 7-year old Elly O.

But now, Shianda's people no longer suffer from waterborne illnesses, and accessing the spring is always easy no matter the weather.

"It is easier now to access water from the spring because of the stairs," Esther said. "I can get water anytime I feel like [it]."

"I take [only a] few seconds to fetch water from the spring," Elly said. "It is easy to access. After school, I take my bath on time, which enables me to do my homework on time."

Esther collects 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 Community 7 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 7 – 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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