Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 600 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/13/2024

Project Features

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Wekoye Spring is the only source of water for the 600 people living in Shivagala. The area around the spring has gradual slopes with trees and sugar plantations surrounding it. Farming is this community's most common livelihood.

Community members have endured the contaminated water and difficult access point at Wekoye Spring for a long time. A few years back, desperate for clean water, the community tried to protect the spring themselves. But without the proper materials or technical expertise, they were unsuccessful in their efforts. All that remains is a discharge pipe stuck into a small cement wall, but on all sides of the wall, the spring's water remains open to the environment, prone to contamination, and unprotected.

The environment around the spring is bushy, making it risky to access, especially for women and girls in the evening. The area in front of the discharge pipe is constantly backed up with several inches of muddy water, putting community members at risk of snakebites and bilharzia, both of which live in this environment.

People here queue for long periods of time to fetch water due to the limited yield their wall and pipe were able to capture from the spring's total output. This slows community members down, as does the tricky and slippery access area. This wasted time could otherwise have been used for incoming-generating activities, home chores, or work on their farms. Fights commonly arise at the spring due to disagreements over places in line and hierarchy of needs, causing tension among community members.

"I have had fights with the members of the community over the water," said Wilbroda Ayeta, a farmer and mother.

Community members report frequent cases of waterborne and water-related diseases, especially diarrhea and typhoid. These further drain families of their time, energy, and financial resources as they seek medical treatment. When it rains, the spring water becomes even more contaminated as runoff carries dirt, animal waste, and farm chemicals into the water. During the rainy season, cases of water-related illnesses in the community rise.

"I have suffered from diarrhea a few times due to the contaminated water," said Esther.

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: Wekoye Spring Protection Complete!

Shivagala Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Wekoye 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.

"Before the implementation of this project, accessing this water was quite a challenge because of overcrowding at the water point," explained Wilbroda. "Now, everything will run smoothly. There will be no more overcrowding. This, in turn, means very little time will be taken there, thus I can commit myself to other activities."

But the water will do more than give Wilbroda and her family more time with each other: it will also make them healthier. "This water point will help me achieve high standards of cleanliness at my house," Wilbroda said. "[I] am assured that my family will be drinking clean and safe water now. I do not have to worry about the safety of the water anymore."

Children were just as excited as the adults about the new water point. Chatty and adorable Susan couldn't stop telling us about all the different ways her life will improve now.

"With access to safe water, [I] am assured of very minimal visits to [the] hospital due to stomach upsets caused by drinking water," she said. "Time wasted in [the] hospital will now be put into my school work. I hope this will help me better my grades even more."

Susan smiling at the spring.

"Before, I would have to [wait in] long queues at the water point in order to get water to wash my uniform. Sometimes I'd have to forego washing my uniforms. But now, work has been made simpler this means I'll be able to maintain high standards of cleanliness. Also, now I can start my own kitchen garden which I have always wanted to have and plant some vegetables for household use, to save us the cost of buying.

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.

Boys from the community help with backfilling.

Community members transplanted grass onto the backfilled soil to help prevent erosion.

Wilbroda planting grass.

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.

Some last-minute tidying!

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.

Clean water flowing.

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 Patience, Eric, Amos, and Wanja deployed to the site to lead the event. 19 people attended the training, including 17 females and two males.

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.

"Before this training, I had very little knowledge on sanitation and hygiene practices," Wilbroda said. "But with the new knowledge gained, I intend for it to help me make better decisions about sanitation and hygiene, and even other things generally."

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 community members addressing the group.

"Before this training, I would do things because I was told to do so, or because I saw others do it," Susan said. "For example, dental hygiene. I didn't really know why I did it, but I did it anyway because everyone around me did it. Now with [this] new set of skills, I intend to better myself and also pass it down to my friends."

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.

"After this training, my community intends to do better where handwashing is concerned," Susan said. "Most of us were doing it because we had heard that we have to. But after today's training, we have new insight on its importance."

The group celebrates after the training's completion with a dance.

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: Shivagala Commmunity, Wekoye Spring Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Shivagala 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: Drinking water without fear!

February, 2023

A year ago, your generous donation helped Shivagala 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 Shivagala Commmunity 4.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shivagala Commmunity 4 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!

Wekoye Spring has provided water for the people living in Shivagala for years, but in the past, the water being collected was contaminated and made people sick with waterborne illnesses.

"The spring used to look dirty and dangerous. Sometimes we used to be sick after drinking water from the spring, which made us miss school," said 12-year-old Faith K.

But since the spring was protected last year, the water is now safer, and people are no longer afraid to drink it.

"I nowadays even drink water direct from the spring without fear because it is well-constructed and safe. I no longer get sick as usual, and this has made me concentrate on my studies," continued Faith.

"[I] have been able to help my parents with house chores on time and have time with my friend whenever I want," said Faith.

Faith 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 Shivagala Commmunity 4 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 Shivagala Commmunity 4 – 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.