Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 210 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.

"I have been taking this water without any precautions because l didn't have any alternative and it has caused me to spend a lot of money on treatment for waterborne diseases," said 36-year-old Selpha Nyakoa, referring to Ashuma Spring.

Even though Ashuma Spring is the sole source for all of the daily water needs of 210 people in Mabanga, its water is far from safe. The community members face many challenges from this water source, not least of which is that the spring is difficult to access. The community tried to improvise a discharge pipe by sticking a pipe directly into the earth, but the best spot for the pipe was very low down to the ground. When approaching the spring, people must wade through the water and mud to reach the pipe.

Once there, it is very difficult to get the average jerrycan - a 20-liter container - to stand since the pipe is so low. When there are a lot of rains and the pool rises, it is even harder to try to collect water from the pipe without the pool water mixing in. The water is contaminated from surface run-off that carries farm chemicals and animal waste, and any accidental disturbance of the pipe causes dirt and sand to mix with the water.

People often try to wait between water users to reduce the issue of dirt in the water in particular, but with so many people in line, the waiting has to be brief. People waste enough time there as it is, and there are often disputes over who made the water dirty, even though it was unintentional and often unavoidable. Adults have to delay they other work because they are stuck waiting at the spring, and kids can be late to school when their first morning chore is to fetch water for home use.

Community members report that there are worms inside the water that give them rashes and are always making them sick from having to stand in the pool of water at the base of the pipe. Each day they said there is a new case of someone contracting a water-related disease such as typhoid, diarrhea, or rashes on the body, among others. These illnesses caused community members to spend a lot of money on treatment, and some have died from their water-related diseases.

"Using water from this water source has caused me to be absent in school because l have always been sick, coughing and getting rashes on my body. Sometimes I am late to school because of the long queue waiting to fetch water," said primary school student (and son of the spring's landowner) Mike.

The community members have tried to reach out to others before to help them protect their spring, but so far all of their attempts have been in vain, they said. We're excited to change that story forever, starting now.

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: Ashuma Spring Project Complete!

Mabanga Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Ashuma 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 will no longer have stomach complications since the water is safe. Access is easy and there will be no crowding while fetching water. I am a farmer, so I will be able to irrigate the vegetables that I grow near the discharge area," said Selpha Nyakoa.

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

"I will save time - time to study, since I will be going back to school faster. There will be no crowding," said teenager Isabella.

Isabella 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.

A community member carries construction materials to the spring site.

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.

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. 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.

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.

Laying the foundation

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 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.

Plastering the stone pitching

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.

Stairs construction

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.


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.

Setting the tiles

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 stones with a thick plastic tarp to minimize potential contamination sources from aboveground, followed by a layer of soil. We piled enough soil 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.

Planting grass

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 directly following training to mark the community's ownership of the water point. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day flowing in all directions.

Celebrating the completed spring

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.

Director Emmah leads a session at training.

When the day arrived, area Director Emmah and a team of facilitators deployed to the site to lead the event. Thirteen people attended the training including community-based leaders, the village health volunteer, and self-help group members. Mr. Ashuma hosted the training outside in his compound. The location was conducive to training as we had plenty of space to spread out while observing physical distancing, and we were close to the spring for the site management portion of training.

Site management training

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 at the spring.

Handwashing demonstration

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. We held an election for the newly formed water user committee leaders during the leadership and governance session.

Handwashing demonstration

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

"I have been empowered...I think we can invest in fish farming at the spring. This will help me keep some income since I am not working," said Silas Chitechi, who works as a journalist and is the elected Secretary of the water user committee.

Jemimah Masai, the Community Health Volunteer, said that training was important "because we are looking for groups so that we can train them to make tippy taps to be washing hands with. I will use the knowledge acquired to train all community members on COVID-19. I will educate the community on how to keep safe."

Jemimah (left) and other women celebrate the completed spring.

"With the Water User Committee, we plan to teach each other on how to make tippy taps for each homestead - it's cheaper and more hygienic to use. This will ensure handwashing more often, hence we will stay safe."

"The virus has killed many people and thus made development decrease, and businesses too. I am not worried because I know how to protect myself," Jemimah added.

A mother fetches water while holding her baby.

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: Ashuma Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Ashuma Spring is making people in Mabanga, 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: No More Waterborne Disease!

May, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mabanga 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!

Before Mabanga Community's spring was protected, the health of its people was in jeopardy. "We suffered from waterborne diseases because of the quality of water," explained 15-year-old Protus M.

But now that the spring produces naturally filtered water, Protus's life has changed. "We have clean and safe water, hence we have no diseases," he said. "[This] has helped me to utilize my time [better] because there is no traffic [at] the water point."

With less time waiting in queues for water, Protus and other kids will have more time for studying, helping around the house and the farm, and, most importantly, playing!

Protus 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 Mabanga 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 Mabanga 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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