Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 245 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/23/2024

Project Features

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Most people living in Chiliva are small-scale farmers who grow sugarcane and a variety of crops for home consumption. Despite the community's many challenges in accessing basic needs, most children and teenagers are highly educated thanks to their parents' continuous support and value in education. The young are the pride of this village, the adults say.

245 people in Chiliva depend on unprotected Elphas Omworo Spring for water. The spring is an open source carved into a small hillside surrounded by mud and makeshift ledges as stairs. Community members access the water by either submerging their containers or using a bowl or small jug to scoop water from the pool to then pour into their larger jerrycans.

Most people prefer drawing water from the spring very early in the morning or late in the evening in an effort to fetch the water at its calmest; too many people fetching too quickly stirs up mud, algae, and detritus from the bottom of the pooled water. With everyone of the same mind, however, community members often find themselves in long lines wasting a lot of their time waiting to fetch water. This delays the rest of the day's activities and takes away from productive time at school, work, home, and on the farm.

Water from the spring is highly contaminated. Run-off from the rains carries dirt, animal waste, human waste, and farm chemicals straight into the water. Animals come to the spring and drink directly from the pool. And when people dip their containers into the water, they bring with them any dirt or bacteria from their jerrycans, hands, and feet as they collect water at the spring's edge.

Community members report frequent and persistent cases of typhoid among families who depend on this spring. Typhoid is particularly expensive to treat in this region, draining families of their time, energy, and financial resources as they seek care and medication.

"Because of the outbreak of waterborne diseases, I have been in and out of school and this has really affected me academically," said Catherine, who attends primary school.

"I have spent a lot of money treating typhoid every now and then. It's my humble request that you help us protect this spring to avoid paying huge bills at the hospital," said Elizabeth Ayuma, a 67-year-old farmer, mother, and grandmother.

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: Chiliva Community, Elphas Omworo Spring Protection Complete!

Chiliva Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Elphas Omworo 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.

Brigid Wafula, a 24-year-old farmer, explained why this new spring means so much. "We used to waste a lot of time. But now we can get water whether it's [the] rainy season or sunny. The place around [the] water point is no longer slippery. The rate of waterborne diseases will definitely decrease because all routes of contamination have been blocked."

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

"I used to waste time at the spring because dipping the water container into the water point made it dirty and one had to wait for [the] water to clear up," said 13-year-old Frankline. "Now we are able to get clean water from the pipe, hence [there is] very little time used."

But Frankline isn't just excited about more time for himself - he has plans to pay for his own school fees now that water is readily available. "Now that we are sure of clean water throughout the year, I will ask my grandfather to [give] me a small piece of land that I can plant some vegetables [on] during dry seasons. I will be able to earn some money that will sustain me at school instead of asking my grandparents."

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.

As soon as we proclaimed construction was complete, all the community members assembled and the staff in charge thanked members for their great support towards spring implementation. Members were asked to take good care of the water point. All their hard work is a certain sign that they will!

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.

Mr. Elphas Omworo, who is the landowner where the spring is protected, helped us mobilize participants for the training. Since most of the water users attend the same church as Elphas, he announced the training time and day there.

When the day arrived, facilitators Betty Muhongo and Stella Inganji deployed to the site to lead the event. 18 people attended the training, including 12 women and six men. We held the training at Elphas's homestead under the shade of a tree. We were pleasantly surprised at the number of attendees.

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.

Elizabeth Ayuma, a 69-year-old farmer who attended the training, had been worried about COVID-19, but said that the training allayed her fears. "Together with other members that attended this training, we all agreed to be on [the] forefront to ensure that we all adhere to the rules and regulations put in place by [the] Ministry of Health."

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.

Elizabeth continued: "We shall make sure every family has [a] leaky tin that will help in handwashing, and soap will be available throughout now that we are able to make our own soap."

"At my age, there are some things that I have not been keen about," Elphas said. "To me, [I] am always at home, so the issue of hands has not been in mind. I have been washing my hands, but without 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.

Dental hygiene was one of the most memorable topics because the participants shared with us what they do in order for them to learn better practices. They all admitted that none of them brush their teeth twice a day. Sometimes, it would even take two days before one would remember to brush their teeth. We all agreed that teeth should be brushed at least twice a day.

The community members' favorite topic was soap-making. They took meticulously detailed notes on the process so that they would be able to recreate it later.

"I never imagined that liquid soap is that easy to make," said Elizabeth. "With the knowledge acquired, [I] am intending to start soap-making which will help me improve my lifestyle.

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!

September, 2021: Elphas Omworo Spring Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Chiliva 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: Faster and safer water collection!

February, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Chiliva 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 people of Chiliva used to waste their valuable time waiting in long lines to collect water for their daily needs since everyone had to carefully and slowly scoop water with a jug from Elphas Omworo Spring. But it didn't matter how careful they were; the water they collected was still contaminated.

"We used to queue at the water point and waste a lot of time. Sometimes we [would] wake up early so as to fetch clean water before people overcrowded and made [the water] dirty," said 34-year-old farmer Mary Mukhonji.

But last year, we protected their spring, and since then, the water collection process has become much easier and faster.

"Since the spring was constructed, I use less time to fetch water and spend other time with my family and do other house chores on time too. Now we no longer use a jug to draw water and also no time wasting as before. I can even send my children to draw water comfortably because the place is safe," continued Mary.

Not only is it a faster process, but the water they are collecting is now protected, so the risk of contracting water-related illnesses has drastically reduced.

"Also, cases of waterborne diseases have reduced in the area because our water point is covered well and safe for consumption," concluded Mary.

Mary drinking 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 Chiliva 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 Chiliva 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.


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