Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 105 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/04/2024

Project Features

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The Shikulu area is in a rural set up but next to the highway. It is very rocky, providing community members with a readily available raw material to sell and also to break down into gravel for sale. Despite the rocks, people manage to plant some crops to sustain their families. Some people also work as day laborers to earn a living. The houses here are made of mud with iron sheet roofs. Christianity is observed by the indicators of several churches in the area. Shikulu ia a unique, cosmopolitan community settled by people from all over Kenya. Together they live here united and in peace, providing a very hospitable and welcoming place for outsiders.

105 people in Shikulu depend on Mikalo Spring for water, but the spring is not meeting their need for clean and accessible water. One of the biggest challenges with this spring is how it comes to the surface almost directly under a large rock embedded into the earth. Without the ability to excavate it on their own, community members have only been able to improvise a plastic discharge pipe by lodging it directly into a small patch of grass around the rock. The pipe is barely secured with mud and rocks, and it often comes loose in the heavy rains this area frequently experiences.

The plastic discharge pipe also misses a portion of the spring's natural output, slowing the discharge speed - and community members - down. Most community members fetch water very early in the morning or in the evening to try to avoid the daytime crowds. When there is a long queue of people at the spring, many are forced to wait. These lines take away community members' time for other crucial activities and work.

The drawing point at the spring is slick with mud due to a lack of a drainage system. Falls are common as people try to leave the spring, cracking jerrycans and even leading to injuries.

"Accessing water from this point has been a challenge over time. Due to the lack of staircases, one of my children slipped and fell, dislocating her leg. This made me sad and again I yearned to get the spring protected," recalled 46-year-old Hellen Mikalo.

"I have been affected personally when I had gone to fetch water and that day my jerrycan fell off my head and broke. It was good that I still stood strong. What is needed is ensuring the spring is protected to avoid accidents, and it will save the issues of damage," explained teenager Silvya, recounting her most recent slip at the spring.

The quality of the water from the spring is questionable, as community members cannot be sure how much the runoff from the rains carry farm chemicals, residues from animal waste, and soil into the water they drink. People here report cholera and typhoid as their most common water-related illnesses, both of which they think stem from this spring's dirty water.

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

November, 2021: Mikalo Spring Project Complete!

Shikulu Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Mikalo 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 be spending less on hospital bills. I'll have some money to save. Months before the protection of the spring, my children among others in the community were victims of acute diarrheal diseases that drained me financially while catering for their hospital bills," said Mary Minyusi, 46.

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

Twelve-year-old Rebah M. said, "I'll start a kitchen garden at home since there is reliable, safe water for my vegetables. Thus, [I] will help my parents start saving for my future (studies)."

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.

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.

Community members gathered around the spring with songs of praise in the local dialect to The Water Project and to God for a great job of protecting their spring. Ululation filled the air and thanks were given by a community leader.

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. The community mobilizer recruited participants by going house to house informing people about the training. For those that were not home, she called them by cell phone just to ensure that no one was left behind.

When the day arrived, facilitators, Jemmimah Khasoha and Victor Musemi deployed to the site to lead the event. Thirteen (13) people attended the training, including self-help group members and community-based leaders. There were nine women and four men in attendance. We held the training under trees just next to the spring.

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.

One of the most memorable topics for the group was soap making. No one in the group knew how to make soap or even where to get the chemicals that are used to make it. They were happy to learn the new information, get to take some soap home with them and have the new skill for the future.

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 about spring maintenance.

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: Shikulu Community, Mikalo Spring Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Shikulu 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: "Water is now safe for drinking"

February, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shikulu 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!

"[The] water was very dirty, more so during rainy seasons, so you had to [sieve it] using a clean cloth, and the process itself was very tiresome," said 27-year-old Jackline Atenji when describing the tedious task of collecting water from Mikalo Spring last year.

But that was before the spring was protected, and since then, things have dramatically changed for community members in Shikulu.

"[The] water is now safe for drinking. It is not exposed to agents of contamination like before," said Jackline.

"Through the help of [the] stairs, I have been able to go fetch water even during rainy seasons without sliding," said 13-year-old Kevin M.

Now that Jackline and Kevin have easy access to all the water they need, they have made strides in other ways, brightening their futures.

"I am no longer taking the cows to the farthest streams because water is now readily available," Kevin concluded.

"My savings have enabled me to venture into poultry farming, as I no longer spend money on medication for waterborne diseases," concluded Jackline.

Kevin collects water from 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 Shikulu 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 Shikulu 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.