Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 210 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/01/2024

Project Features

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Without someone pointing it out, one might mistake unprotected Davis Mamuti Spring for merely a puddle among the grass. For the 210 people living in Machemo who depend on this spring as their only source of water, however, they know this spring all too well as a reliable yet highly contaminated and difficult to access water source.

Davis Mamuti Spring is located in a rural area where the environment is cool and wet during the rainy season. There are many trees in the area, and when combined with the large amount of fertile land community members farm, the landscape appears lush. During the dry season, which was ongoing during our most recent visit, the roads to the village are dusty and have a lot of potholes.

Each morning, the first thing women and children do is head to the spring to fetch water. Families use this first round of water for house chores, watering plants, and giving to their livestock. People continue to visit the spring throughout the day and into the evening to collect enough water for all of their drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs.

The spring's difficult access area slows community members down, wasting their time and delaying the day's activities. The spring water flows out across a relatively flat grassy patch of land, creating a slippery and muddy area on all sides of the spring. To fetch water, people have to lay down their jerrycans into the mud to try to submerge their openings, if possible. Everyone has to at least top off their jerricans using smaller jugs to scoop water off the ground that they then pour into their larger containers. People cannot fetch water too quickly or they risk stirring up too much mud, forcing them to wait even longer while the water settles before they can begin fetching again.

"The devastating moment I had at the water point was when I went to fetch water after it had rained. I slid and fell down, dislocating my left foot. If we had good accessibility, then I would not have had such a bad experience. I am hopeful that the project will be implemented so as we can have a safe place where we can get clean, quality water," said Robai Nasimiyu.

The scoop-pour method of fetching water is tiring and time-consuming. For women especially, the amount of time they spend fetching water often prevents them from finding day labor jobs that would give them income. As a result, most women here are restricted to childcare and household chores while they remain economically dependent on their husbands, despite having their own development goals.

As an open water source, the spring water is not safe for human consumption. Aside from the grass growing in it, there is algae and of course the mud coating the bottom of the spring. Animals walk through and drink from the water, while runoff from the rains carry more soil, animal waste, and farm chemicals into the water. Added to this are any bacteria and dirt on community members' hands, feet, and containers as they step in the water to fetch it.

"The situation at the water point is not pleasing, thus making the water dirty more often. In our school, we use white shirts which, when I wash them with this water, turn to a different color. I would be happy if we will be helped to get safe and clean water," said young teenager Davis.

The most frequently reported health effects among community members who depend on this spring include diarrhea, typhoid, and cholera. Most of the diarrhea cases occur in children. Families drain their financial resources seeking medication for these diseases which are expensive to treat and often long-lasting.

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

October, 2021: Machemo Community, Davis Mamuti Spring Protection Complete!

Machemo Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Davis Mamuti 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] am a neighbor to this spring. Imagine how happy I am!" said Rose Walufa, a 56-year-old farmer. "Access will be easier. [I] am gonna live a happier life and healthy. This is an achievement for us as a community. We have made a mark."

Rose at the spring.

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

"Clean water, to me, means good life," said Moi T. "[I] am going to wash my uniforms on [a] weekly basis. My main objective [now] is to work hard in [my] studies to improve my parents' lifestyle. I see such motivation from you, bringing good water to us."

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 rocks 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.

A community member brings bricks to the construction site.

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 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 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, Amos Emisiko, Erick Wagaka, and Patience Njeri deployed to the site to lead the event. 18 people attended the training, with an equal number of men and women. We held the training under a tree near 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 have heard a lot of rumors about COVID-19 vaccination, but you have elaborated well how it works," said Rose Wafula. "I have made a decision. You gave us real examples of other vaccinations that we have received, e.g measles and others. [I] am encouraged to go and tell [everyone] to get [a] vaccination."

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.

"The training was so interesting, especially the part of soap making," said Mercy K. "I have learned how to make it and I can't wait to make mine at home. The training was so valuable to me, and I appreciate it a lot."

"We will be making soap on our own and improve hygiene," Rose added. "With the new skill of making facemasks, [we] will be making our own."

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.

Participants were particularly interested in the section where we explained how community members can best maintain their new protected spring. They enjoyed learning about the different components that make the spring work. One participant joked that they wouldn't use the nice, sturdy fence for chicken-rearing as they had planned to before the training, which made everyone laugh.

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: Machemo Community, Davis Mamuti Spring Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Machemo 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: Quicker Access to Water!

February, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Machemo Community 3.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Machemo Community 3 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 construction, insects used to float on [the] water, and there was grass all over the place, making us scared of the place," said ten-year-old Emily A. when describing the spring's condition before it was protected last year.

But since the spring in Machemo was protected, access has been much easier for Emily and other community members.

"We could easily fall, mostly when it rain[ed] and we went to fetch water, but the installation of the staircase has really made the access easy," said Emily. "[The] installation of the fence has really helped because children cannot get access to the spring eye and dirty the water, unlike before where they could play inside the water, making it dirty."

Time management was also a challenge before the spring was protected, but now the process of collecting water is much faster and less tedious.

"There could be [a] long queue of people, especially during drought season, and filling a 20-liter jerrican using a scooping container was time-wasting. Now water flows from a pipe and fills the jerrycan within seconds," said Emily.

Hopefully, less burden collecting water will give Emily more time and energy to pursue other things in the future.

Emily at 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 Machemo Community 3 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 Machemo Community 3 – 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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