Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 128 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/05/2024

Project Features

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"This water point provides for us water throughout the year, but unfortunately the water is unclean and unsafe for human consumption. Since we have no alternative, we just use it in its state. I am tired of paying hospital bills due to waterborne and water-related diseases. If this water point is protected, we will be saved from these diseases," said Julius Butiku, a 34-year-old farmer and father in Mulwanda Village.

Mulwanda Village has beautiful scenery from trees, grass, flowers, and other plants. The landscape is on a gradual slope with well-defined paths interconnecting homesteads. The roads are accessible and the most common mode of transport is motorcycle.

People in this area earn their living through farming. They plant foods like maize, sweet potatoes, bananas, sugarcane, vegetables, and cassava. They also rear chicken and keep cattle and sheep. Sugarcane is supplied to the nearby sugar factories for cash. Some men work as casual laborers in the factories, while others earn their income providing transport as boda boda (motorbike taxi) drivers.

Julius is 1 of 128 people who depend on Inganji Spring as their closest and only year-round water source in the area. The spring has never dried up, even during one of the most intense droughts on record in 2019. But water from Inganji Spring is not safe for drinking because it is contaminated and dirty. Appearing as a muddy puddle, the spring is completely open to runoff from the rains that carry farm chemicals, residues from animal waste, and soil directly into the water. The spring is defined by a bottom layer of rotting leaves, algae, insects, and mud.

As Julius noted, water-related illnesses are highly prevalent among the families who depend on Inganji Spring. The most common illnesses connected to the spring water include typhoid and diarrhea, which sometimes lead to death if left untreated. So much money is spent on buying medicine and going to hospitals for treatment that families find they have little money left for anything else. When they have to stay home sick, adults miss out on productive work hours and kids have to stay home from school, often causing them to fall behind in their studies.

In addition to the health risks posed by the unprotected spring, accessibility and time wastage are the other top concerns at Inganji Spring. The pool where the spring's water collects is so shallow that to fetch water, everyone must bring an additional bowl or jug to scoop water from the spring to then pour into their larger jerrycans. This scoop-pour method carries any dirt and bacteria that were on the containers or people's hands into the water they are collecting.

Sometimes people's shoes and toes slip into the water accidentally due to the muddy access point, further contaminating the water. The community tried to place a few stones to help them stay above the water while fetching it, but these, too, are slippery and often end up with people standing in the same pool of water they are fetching from.

The current process to fetch water is extremely time-consuming, imprecise, and tiring. But if people move too quickly while scooping water, or if more than one person tries to fetch it at the same time, they stir up the mud and debris from the bottom of the spring into their collected water and waste their chance at fetching the cleanest water possible.

The associated long lines and wait times at the spring feel, at this point, inevitable. The time and energy people lose to their water-related illnesses are compounded by the daily time lost at the spring, eating into everyone's daily schedule and activities.

"My daily routine is to wake up early and start my day by making several trips to the spring to fetch water. It doesn't matter whether it's a school day or not; it's a tiresome experience for us. I hope this spring will be protected soon so that I can have time to concentrate more on my studies," said teenager Faith, who needs to keep her grades up if she wants to continue to secondary school.

But the dirty water from Inganji Spring is putting Faith's future at risk.

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

August, 2021: Inganji Spring Project Complete!

Mulwanda Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Inganji 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.

"I will no longer spend money on hospital bills in treatment of waterborne and water-related diseases for my family since we can now access clean and safe water. I will be able to invest saved time and money in income-generating activities in order to improve my family's living standards," said Julius Butiku, a 34-year-old farmer.

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

"Water from this water point is very clean and I enjoy drinking it without the fear of getting sick. Since our spring was protected, my siblings and I make several trips to the spring and back within a short time since fetching water is really fast. We can now get more time to play unlike before when it was hectic to fetch water," said Marlin M., age 9.

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.

Making Gravel

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.

Collecting bricks for construction

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, Christine Masinde, and Samuel Simidi deployed to the site to lead the event. Seventeen people attended the training, including community-based leaders and village health volunteers. We held the training at Mrs. Kulecho's compound under shade trees. It was convenient for training since it was quiet and calm and had enough space for the demonstrations and to follow COVID-19 guidelines.

Demonstration on making masks

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.

Dental hygiene training session

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.

Learning to make soap

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.

Alpha Oking'a, Chairperson, Water User Committee

"Whatever we have learned today will transform our lives positively. Our hygiene standards will improve, especially now that we are able to make soap for ourselves and use clean water from the protected spring," said Alpha Oking'a, Chairperson of the Water User Committee and a local farmer.

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: Inganji Spring Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Mulwanda 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 Videos

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: More Time for Homework!

August, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mulwanda Community 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!

Inganji Spring once presented several issues for those relying on it before its protection last year. The spring was difficult to access, water had to be scooped up little by little into larger water containers, and the water was contaminated.

"The spring was overcrowded and hard to access. When I came from school, I [could] take a lot of time to draw water from the spring," said 16-year-old Silvia K.

But now, since its protection, water flows freely and access is easier, making things better for Silvia and her fellow community members.

"There is no queuing at the spring because it is easy to access the water," Silvia said.

"I take [a] short time to fetch [water] and do my homework early enough before I [have to] go to bed," Silvia concluded.

Silvia (in pink) with other community members 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 Mulwanda Community 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 Mulwanda Community – 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.


2 individual donor(s)