Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 125 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Dec 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/30/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

"When I visit the hospital, the nurses are aware of my case even without me explaining to them; I have spent a lot of money treating typhoid. If I was to buy properties with the money I spent at the hospital, I would be the richest person in the community."

This is how Susan Awinja, a 50-year-old farmer and mother living in Lunyinya, described her relationship with Shirongo Spring. Serving 125 people in Lunyinya, Shirongo Spring is depended on as one of the only reliable year-round water sources here, yet it costs residents greatly in their health, time, and finances.

The community members tried protecting the spring some years back, but without the proper materials or technical expertise, they were not successful in a durable solution. Today, all that remains of their work is a pipe lodged in a small outcropping of cement and bricks. The catchment area is not protected, meaning the water is still contaminated. The access area is wet and slippery, forming a large puddle around the spring.

Community members of this particular spring have no specific time of day for drawing water. Instead, their water fetching schedules are more driven by the season. During holidays, most people try to draw water early in the morning or late in the evening because the children home from school lead to overcrowding. Because the community was not able to fully capture the spring's eyes in the catchment area, they are missing out on the spring's naturally high yield. This slows them down as they wait their turn to fetch water.

"During holidays, I wake up very early in the morning to go and draw water before other people just to avoid being part of the overcrowding team," said Phanice, a primary school-aged student.

Lacking a properly protected catchment area, the spring's water is still unsafe for consumption. Susan is not alone in falling ill after consuming the water. The community members said typhoid affects nearly all of the families that depend on this spring. Here, typhoid is particularly expensive to treat, as Susan noted. Medication and hospital visits lead to expensive medical bills and productive time lost for all ages.

The Lunyinya community is highly vegetated as a majority of the villagers practice mixed farming. Most buildings are semi-permanent in construction materials. Some farmers grow sugarcane to sell at the nearest factories. "The unity among the community members and respect given to their leaders is just amazing," noted Field Officer Betty.

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

December, 2021: Shirongo Spring Protection Complete!

Lunyinya Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Shirongo 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.

A smile of joy!

"Through this new water point facility the hygiene standards will improve, i.e bathing on a daily basis, washing clothes, safe water for drinking and cleaning utensils," said Emily Awinja, a local farmer.

Emily at the spring.

"Health issues will be minimal, hence [we will be] economically empowered, as much time will be created for work. As a farmer, I will practice farming activities without any hindrance."

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

"As a child from the community, for me, [accessing] water will be much easier," said Brian A. "[I will have] much time for my classwork, daily cleaning, and living a healthy life with minimal cases of diseases. Achieving academically and ensuring the community is uplifted through my education."

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.

Ready for the ribbon-cutting ceremony!

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. A member of the county assembly was in attendance to mark the occasion. 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 Victor Musemi and Olivia Bomji deployed to the site to lead the event, which we held near the site of the spring. 20 people attended the training, including 15 women and five men.

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.

"The training will really bring changes to our community," said Emily, who was elected as the newly formed water user committee's secretary. "The hygiene standards will improve. People will live [a] healthy, safe life."

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 water user committee leaders during the leadership and governance session.

Practicing handwashing.

"This was a new dawn for me," said community leader Samson Tali. "Learning things concerning hygiene and sanitation standards. Through learning, the entire community has changed. I will create awareness [for] other people, hence impacting them."

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.

Lunyinya Community's favorite training topic was soap-making. They were excited to learn the process, and ended up being amazed by how easy it was. Several members said that they planned on going into a soap-making business.

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: Lunyinya Community, Shirongo Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Lunyinya 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: "I now use less than 5 minutes at the water point"

January, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Lunyinya Community 4.

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

Community members in Lunyinya used to spend a lot of time collecting water from Shirongo Spring. And sadly, the water they worked so hard to collect made them ill with water-related illnesses.

"I used to queue for a very long time while fetching water from the spring due to its unprotected nature," said nine-year-old Josiah M.

But we protected the spring last year, and since then, water has been freely flowing and has made a significant difference in everyone's daily life.

When we asked Josiah how the waterpoint has helped him, he said he saves time.

"I fetch water comfortably from the pipe and don’t queue anymore since there's enough water which is always available. I now use less than five minutes at the water point fetching water, unlike before, [when] I queued for [a] long [time]," said Josiah.

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 Lunyinya Community 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 Lunyinya Community 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.