Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 420 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/07/2024

Project Features

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Matiang'i Spring is located in Mwituwa village, where it serves 420 people. As it is located near the road, the spring serves many people. Most men in this community do not stay at home during the day, so the burden of fetching water is left to the women and children. Women are also expected to clear the bushes that grow in and around the spring, and ensure that the spring is maintained.

But with the very busy and tiring schedule that a typical woman has, it leaves her with little time to take care of the spring effectively. Women are the ones who wake up early, prepare the children for school, clean the compound, milk the cows, and ensure there is breakfast for their entire family. In this community, women are at the center of ensuring there is a meal on the table each day, regardless of the work they have to do. Their afternoons and evenings are filled with farm work, house chores, and more trips to the spring. Most women in this community also do manual labor on others' farms, for which they are paid per day. When they have to go looking for water, they miss out on time they could be working to earn a living.

So much time is lost at Matiang'i Spring due to its unprotected state. The community tried to improvise a headwall using mud in an attempt to build up enough pressure for the water to flow through a makeshift pipe. But without any other materials available or the technical knowledge of how to protect the spring, their efforts are frequently washed away in the rain. Water also escapes through either side of the mud wall, and sometimes straight through it. This leads to slower fill times for every container someone brings to the spring.

"Sometimes you come to fetch water and find the pipe missing, which makes you go back home and bring the jug. This is time-consuming, especially when I want to go to school," said primary school student Amos. Most children are asked to fetch water for their families before they attend school, leading to missed morning classes and later, absenteeism when they get sick from the spring water.

The spring remains an open source, with algae and dirt mixing in the water people collect. To reach the pipe, people also have to stand in several inches of mud and water that pool beneath the pipe, and their containers become flush with the standing water as they begin to fill. It is not uncommon to accidentally get some of the standing water mixed in with the water from the pipe. The access area means "getting water is difficult sometimes," said 25-year-old farmer Jacinta Mukoya.

This unprotected water source leads to the community spending extra money buying chlorine so as to treat the water, though not everyone can afford it. Those who can on occasion are spending resources that could be channeled to other crucial needs, like purchasing food or materials for their farms. A lot of productive time is also lost while lining up to fetch water from this water source, as people try to let the water settle between users. But with so many people waiting their turn, they can only wait so long. The crowds and lines are especially concerning during the pandemic, when community members are trying to avoid groups and limit their time spent in public.

Community members report widespread cases of diarrhea after drinking the spring water. Falls and their related injuries are also common from people trying to leave the spring with their heavy containers, since there are no stairs to aid in accessing the water point.

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

May, 2021: Matiang'i Spring Project Complete!

Mwitwa Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Matiang'i 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.

Protected Matiang'i Spring

"I will be healthier than before, and also I will improve on my sanitation and hygiene skills. It will also help me with time management because I'm no longer wasting a lot of time searching for safe water for drinking. I will use the water for irrigation, for I'm planning to be a prosperous farmer in the future," said Jacinta Mukoya, a young farmer in the community.

Jacinta Mukoya fetches water.

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

"Life will be manageable because the troubles we have been passing through searching for safe water for drinking were so immense and unbearable. Henceforth, I will have enough time after school in the evening for studies," said young teenager George.

"The water point will help me and my parents practice farming and save money for my education. It will also help me with time management skills because there will be no more toiling in search of safe water for drinking, which will ensure the best performance in my education."

George stands at the spring before fetching water.

"I feel that this water point is going to be taken care of following the level of unity expressed by the people from this community," said team member Joyce Naliaka, who helped lead this project to completion.

"The grandchildren of a single-family grew into a large family that came together and created Mwitwa community that was named after an Oak-like tree called 'mutua' that was in the middle of that village. The council of elders mostly used the tree as a community court for ruling out cases concerning youths and other members of the community," Joyce said. Generations later, that mutua tree is still a central part of the community. The village continues to work together as if they are still just one family united in their efforts, she added, leading to her confidence in their care of the newly protected spring.

Community members pose at the completed 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.

Construction materials delivered by community members.

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.

Setting 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.

Brickwork begins

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 slightly 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 discourage people and animals from standing on that area, which could cause soil erosion and thus a clogged drainage area.

Stairs construction

We turned to cementing and plastering both sides of the headwall and wing walls with brickwork and stone pitching completed. 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. The community members expressed their joy by dancing, jumping, and splashing water around.

The work team enjoys a rest and appreciates their job well done upon the spring's completion.

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 agricultural 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 Joyce, Jacque, and Julius deployed to the site to lead the event. Twelve people attended the training, including community-based leaders. It was a cool and bright morning, and the environment was conducive with no signs of rain. Community members gathered under an oak tree at Mr. Alex's compound. As the grass was dry with no signs of dew, the community members decided to sit on the ground surrounded by the graves of Alex's parents and grandparents. The compound was so spacious, providing enough room for physical distancing.


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.

Site management training and reviewing the COVID-19 prevention poster at the spring.

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.

We also brainstormed income-generating activities that people can use 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.

"Training was very valuable to me because it has made me realize that everything I have been doing as pertains to sanitation and hygiene was totally wrong. The new knowledge will help me work on these areas accordingly and also try to be an ambassador to those who totally lack the knowledge by organizing sensitization meetings with other communities," said John Akasi, a carpenter in the community and the spring's elected Chair.

Handwashing session

"It was very valuable, for it has made me realize the importance of taking care of myself and my family members," said Everlyn Makokha, the spring's elected Treasurer and a farmer and business owner, referring to the training.

"It will help me learn how to adhere to the rules and guidelines set aside by the Ministry of Health to ensure that I keep myself safe when visiting and after visiting the market."

"We were using handwashing stations in our homesteads, and also some community members were making and selling face masks to other members. We also used to keep social distance while purchasing stuff from the shops."

Trainer Joyce helps a community member put on a new mask.

Everlyne said the parts of training she valued most were the sessions on "how to wear masks properly and wash our hands in the right way to avoid contracting the virus." After training, she said as a community. They would "emphasize on handwashing, make sure the water point is safe from the virus by encouraging members to adhere to the rules set aside by the Water User Committee and make sure the environment is clean and safe for every member in our families."

Women splash water in celebration 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!

April, 2021: Matiang'i Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Matiang'i Spring is making people in Mwitwa, 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 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: School Fees? No Problem!

May, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mwituwa 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 Matiang'i Spring was protected last year, the people of Mwitwa spent a lot of time every day sourcing clean water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and irrigation.

"We had tough times searching for clean water because this [spring] was not safe for drinking," said 10-year-old Maxwel. "We could waste a lot of time on the roads, making it difficult for me to finish my homework."

But now, they don't have to search for water all around their community - it's right in their own backyard.

"Getting water from this water point is now easier because I don't experience difficulties reaching the drawing point," Maxwel said. "It has also helped me manage my time well by finishing schoolwork without any delay."

It's fantastic that Maxwel is able to complete all his schoolwork. In the past, Maxwel's academic future was uncertain because his parents couldn't afford to pay school fees. But with the money his parents have made farming, he and his siblings can all attend school without worry.

"My life in school has been so disheartening for lack of fees. Together with my siblings, the journey has never been easy for us until the water point was protected. We can now afford a smile because our parents can easily pay our school fees from the amount [of money] they get from the products gotten through irrigation using the water point [for farming."

Maxwel 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 Mwituwa 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 Mwituwa 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.


Project Sponsor - The Roney Family Foundation