Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 280 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/04/2024

Project Features

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Please note: original photos were taken before the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The first time I looked at this water source and noticed how exposed it is to contamination, I lost the appetite of even testing it - I can't drink this water since it's not safe," said Monitoring and Evaluation Officer Betty Mwangi upon seeing Lubale Spring during her initial visit.

Every morning in Emutetemo, the 280 people who depend on Lubale Spring for all of their daily water needs wake up very early. First, they rush to the spring to fetch water, making several trips home and back before tackling their other duties. The water collected in the morning gets used for drinking, cooking breakfast, doing the dishes, laundry, and other household needs. In the evening, again people go back to fetch water for evening use such as cooking and bathing. The next day, the cycle continues.

Those who trek to the spring - predominantly women, children, and a high number of the elderly in this village - complain of the unprotected nature of the water source. The water is open to contamination from the environment, people, and animals. Water-related illnesses are a common complaint among people of all ages who drink this spring water.

"When I drink this water, my stomach starts to produce funny sounds and sometimes diarrhea," said 23-year-old college student Caroline Namukoya.

The community tried to improvise a discharge pipe stuck directly into the earth, but inevitably some water escapes around the edges of the pipe. This slows down the collection process, so groups form while people wait their turn to fetch water. If someone disturbs the pipe by accident, dirt and sand are stirred up into the water. The next person then has to wait for the debris to settle before they can fetch water.

When it rains, the pool of water that forms beneath the discharge pipe rises to just a few inches or less below the pipe. During the wettest seasons, the pipe can even be submerged. If the water from the pipe and the pool mix, there are added contaminants from people walking in the water to reach the pipe.

"I don't like to come here to fetch water when it has rained because the water is always dirty, and the drawing point is always full of water  - there's nowhere to step," said primary school student Braiton.

This frustrating process of collecting dirty water leads to conflicts at the spring and within the community. And the crowds are increasingly concerning during the COVID-19 pandemic, when community members are trying to limit time spent in groups or in public.

The area leading up to the spring is very steep, and it gets slippery with mud when it rains. Falls, spilled water, and injuries are common consequences of this required daily task. The spring's uncertain footing also makes it hard for the elderly in particular to access the water.

If only the spring could be protected, community members said, it could save much of their time.

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

April, 2021: Lubale Spring Project Complete!

Emutetemo Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Lubale 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.

Community members celebrate the completed spring.

When asked how the newly completed spring might impact her life, community member and local teacher Selpher Keya Shiundu said the biggest impact would be the prevention of waterborne diseases."

"A lot of the users of Lubale Spring are young children, and we do have a school nearby called Emutetemo Primary School. The cases of waterborne diseases are going to decrease greatly. This will reduce the cost of medication because when someone gets sick with typhoid, it costs greatly because you have to transport them to the hospital, and that's just one of the hidden costs," Selpher said.

Selpher Keya Shiundu fetches water.

"Cleanliness will now be available in the homes," responded Martin Kabunga, the elected Chair of the water user committee and a Sunday School teacher on the weekend. "Having a trustable source of water is also encouraging - waterborne related diseases are no longer going to be a problem."

A mother with her baby at the spring.

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

"I will no longer get diarrhea and typhoid, which used to be a problem amongst us. We actually knew it was from the spring water, but we had no option. Having clean water now makes me happy," said teenager Kellian.

"Water from the spring can bring life for fish farming and vegetables and trees that can be a source of income. As you can see, we do have the land!" Kellian said.

Kellian fetches water at the spring.

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 stones 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.

Community members help carry construction materials to the spring.

When everything was prepared, 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.

Community members of all ages lent a helping hand in mobilizing materials.

From Open Source to Protected Spring: A Step-by-Step Process

At last, it was time to dig in at the spring! Women and men lent their strength to the artisan each day to help with the manual labor. We also noticed a group of young children who came to each mid-day to see if they could help with the work. We found out these were learners from Emutetmo Primary School, located just 500 meters away, on their lunch break. The pupils were curious and excited to see the project in action and be a part of it.


First, we cleared and excavated the spring area. 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.

Laying the foundation

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.

Bricklaying begins

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.

Raising the walls

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.

Setting the pipe

If the discharge pipe were placed 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 the clay is in short supply) and placed it at a slight incline to ensure water flows in the right direction.

Cementing the headwall

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. These help to discourage people and animals from trying to stand on that area, which could cause soil erosion and thus a clogged drainage area.

Plastering the rub walls

With brickwork and stone pitching completed, we 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.

Plastering the walls

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.

Backfilling with clay

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.

Passing large rocks down to the artisan for backfilling.

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 stones with a thick plastic tarp to minimize potential contamination sources from aboveground, followed by a soil layer. We piled enough soil on top to create a slight mound to compensate for the backfill’s future settlement.

Planting grass inside the fencing

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.

Protected Lubale Spring

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.

Women pose at the spring.

We officially handed over the spring two days after completion. Since we completed work on a Friday, we had to wait for Monday to go back and officially hand over Lubale Spring to the community. On that morning, a small group of community members gathered for a prayer of thanks and danced to songs and music while receiving their new water point. This was an important moment that marked 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, who will relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends. When the day arrived, facilitators Adelaide Nasimiyu, David Muthama, and Jacky Kangu deployed to the site to lead the event.

Trainer Jacky shows how to use the elbow for safer sneezes and coughs.

16 people attended the training, including members of the local self-help group and community-based leaders. Martin Kabunga, the now-elected Chair of the water user committee, helped mobilize community members to attend. We held the training in the homestead of Mama Zaituni Nechesa Okanga, located about 30 meters from the spring. The tress provided good shade in her homestead, and since it was early morning, we did not suffer the midday heat. We set up a small learning area with chairs provided by Mr. Kabunga.

Trainer Adelaide (left) next to Zaituni Nechesa Okanga demonstrating the ten steps of handwashing.

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 also left behind a rice sack painted with messages of COVID-19 prevention reminders in the local language. We affixed the sign to the spring's fence during training and encouraged community members to use it as a daily reminder to stay cautious both at home and in the spring.

Handwashing session

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 and sanitation platforms; dental hygiene; the ten steps of handwashing, and how to make and use a tippy tap and leaky tin. We held an election for the newly formed water user committee leaders during the leadership and governance session.

Trainer Jacky shows how to sew a mask.

We also brainstormed income-generating activities that can be used to start community savings account for any future minor repairs to the spring and a cooperative lending group to enable members to develop small businesses.

The session on COVID-19 became the most memorable due to the thorough discussion on myths and rumors surrounding the virus and related vaccines. One community member, Celpher Saitoti, said she did not trust the COVID-19 vaccines, saying she believed they would make her age faster. The Facilitator, Trainer Jacky, explained to Mama Saitoti the importance of taking the vaccine and assured her that what she had in mind was only a myth.

Martin Kabunga addresses the group at training.

Another special topic was mask-making and wearing. When someone asked a question about the importance of wearing a mask, "a lot of cheeky answers shot up, like, 'town ladies are using masks for swag,' and 'hiding from people that you have a debt to settle with,'" recalled Trainer David Muthama. The group was then able to discuss the medical and social importance of mask-wearing in public. At the end of the training, the facilitators passed out new, reusable cloth masks to all training attendees.

Facilitators pass out new cloth masks to training attendees.

"The training has helped me, and now I do believe that COVID-19 is real...I now accept it's not all a lie and myth from the urban town folks," said Mama Zaituni Nechesa Okanga, who manages the chlorine dispenser at the spring to help people double ensure the water they take home is safe and clean.

Mama Zaituni Nechesa Okanga

"With the new knowledge, we can now make masks in bulk and help where possible - even the children in the community are going to benefit," said Martin Kabunga, the elected Chair of the water user committee and a Sunday School teacher on the weekend.

Martin Kabunga

Martin said he is worried about the virus "because many people think it is just a myth. My key concern is to secure containers and make leaky tins to be placed at the entrance of every homestead to make handwashing a lifestyle amongst us."

Celebrating clean water flowing at the spring.

When an issue arises concerning the water project, 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!

March, 2021: Lubale Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Lubale Spring is making people in Emutetemo, Kenya sick. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know this community through the narrative and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation, and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with news of success!

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: Ingenious Water Use Leads to Food!

April, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Emutetemo 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!

Barack J., 13, recalled what life was like for him before his community's spring was protected last year. "I remember I could not drink directly from the source because of the conditions of where we used to fetch water from. I had to use a cup and during the heavy rainy seasons, I had to go boil water at home. Sometimes it became a challenge due to [a] lack of firewood."

But life is much simpler for Barack and the other community members in Emutetemo now.

"The new spring came with a pipe that you just wash your hands and get a drink very, very easily. I usually do that every day after lunch. I just pass by the spring on my way to school."

Having ready access to water from the spring year-round has made a difference for Barack, even in obtaining food. "Now, I have clean water to drink after eating and also the spring helps me to get food."

A tradition in Kenya, as well as in other parts of Africa, when the rainy season begins, is to catch termites escaping the flooding ground to fry and eat.

In the video below, you can see Barack and his friends collecting water from the spring to flood the ground to simulate the rainy season so they can collect termites to eat. Ingenious!

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 Emutetemo 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 Emutetemo 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.


Project Sponsor - Columbia Baptist Fellowship