Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 490 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/07/2024

Project Features

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

The Khaunga A area is primarily agricultural with farmers specializing in sugarcane, maize, beans, and local vegetables. Murutu spring is located near the Khaunga Market, with all types of businesses taking place there from a small petrol station to shops, small traders, and fishmongers. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the area is particularly populous with most students having come back home due to the national school closures. Once can see kids assisting their parents with normal chores from digging to fetching water and house chores.  Shiloh Church and Khaunga Mosque are also in the vicinity, where people from each institution come to use the spring water.

A normal day for the 490 people who depend on Murutu Spring begins at 6:00 am with fetching water, cooking breakfast, cleaning the compound, and tending to livestock. Then they might do some farming activities, depending on the season. Around 11:00 am, people come home to wash clothes an eating utensils from breakfast. They return to the spring to fetch more water for cooking and sometimes bathing, though most people wait to bathe until nighttime due to a lack of bathing shelters.

After lunch, community members go looking for firewood and maybe shop for groceries at the nearby market. Some go to church for weekly meetings, or to the mosque for weekly or daily worship. By evening, people fetch more water for bathing and cooking before they retire to bed at around 9:00 pm.

So many people and uses depend on the spring water, and yet it is dirty. The area around the spring is slippery with mud as people walk up to and into the spring to fetch water. Heavy rains make this worse, causing people to slip and fall while fetching water.

"The terrain is bad; it affects my legs, and at times I fall. With my old age, I have to walk slowly so that I don't have accidents," said Grace Murutu, a farmer and the landowner of the spring.

In its unprotected state, Murutu Spring is open to contaminants including farm runoff, animal waste, and human contamination from people having to step in it. Community members cite a long list of water-related illnesses associated with consuming the spring water, including Typhoid, Malaria, Bilharia, Amoeba, headaches, and stomachaches.

There is also a lot of time wasted in the act of fetching water. People try to wait between users to allow the water to settle before the next person begins fetching it, and community members have tried to improvise a discharge pipe stuck directly into the ground. But evidently, there is always some dirt mixing in with the water. The wait time leads to crowds, which are especially unwanted during the pandemic.

"The time I spend on the spring would be used for something else as I take a long time since its crowded," said 20-year-old Joel Sawinja, who would prefer to be studying or working than waiting at the spring watching dirt settle.

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: Murutu Spring Project Complete!

Khaunga A Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Murutu 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 protected spring.

"I now have water for drinking nearby. I will be preparing lunch for the children from school on time. This will save my time to cater to other activities," said Caroline Amakhongo, a farmer and mother in the community.

"I have experienced some ailments before [related to water from the unprotected spring]. With the money I will save, I will begin a small business at least to get some profit to ensure I take my children to school to get access to education," Caroline added.

Caroline Amakhongo fetches water.

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

"I used to go collect water from a distance for drinking after school. I will not be going there anymore, and I will save time. I had wanted to plant vegetables in a seed bed and some trees. I will irrigate them using the water," said primary school-aged Yvonne.

Yvonne gives thumbs up while fetching water at the spring.

"The community came together and was able to work as one during the implementation of the project, right from the locally available materials mobilization to the completion of the project," noted Programs Coordinator Protus Ekesa, who helped lead the team that saw this spring to completion.

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.

Women carry and deliver 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.

All ages helped mobilize materials for construction.

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.

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 slightly incline to ensure water flows in the right direction.

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.

Cement and plaster work

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.

Stairs construction

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 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.

Planting grass

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.

Handing over ceremony

During the dedication ceremony, the water users came in large numbers to be handed over the project since they had waited for this opportunity to start fetching water. There was a celebration at the water point to mark the occasion with community members singing and shouting when the moment arrived. The ceremony was attended by the water users, including the village elder.

There were three older women in the community, ages 87, 70, and 69, who had difficulties accessing the water point in particular before its protection. After protection, these women were the first ones to go down the steps of the newly protected spring to access and fetch the water. They were so excited to have been considered a community for the project, and they were so grateful for the good work done.

Elder women fetch the first water from the protected spring.

An elder celebrates the 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 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.

Participants listen to the trainer.

When the day arrived, facilitators Protus, Elvine, and Adelide deployed to the site to lead the event. 32 people attended the training, including community-based leaders and the local Village Health Volunteer. We held the training at the spring because it had enough space for physical distancing and plenty of fresh air in the shade.

Community members raise their hands to answer a question at 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.

Practicing using the elbow for safer coughs and sneezes.

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.

Community member Everline discusses toothbrushing during the dental hygiene session.

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.

"This new knowledge will help me now to be keeping water for drinking safe, and also my environment will be kept safe. The knowledge will also help me to follow the COVID-19 measures more strictly than before," said Grace Murutu, a farmer and village elder.

Handwashing session

"The knowledge has acted as an eye-opener to me since I just heard things from the radio, but I had no one which reached me to inform me in person about COVID-19. I will be very cautious to avoid being infected by the virus," said Dickson Murutu, a farmer in the community.

"We had not taken this virus seriously since we just heard it from the radio and people. We bought some masks just in case someone wants to go far from here. I am so afraid of this virus because of the way it kills people. It has stopped so many activities," Dickson added. He said the most valuable parts of the training included the sessions on "wearing face masks in the right manner, washing hands with soap and running water, avoiding handshaking and hugging, and avoiding overcrowding."

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: Murutu Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Murutu Spring is making people in Khaunga A, 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: Better Scores, Cleaner Water, and Improved Hygiene!

May, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Khaunga A 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 we protected Murutu Spring, 16-year-old Edwin and his fellow community members had an incredibly difficult time fetching water. Because community members had to submerge their containers in the shallow stream, sediment from its bottom was continually stirred up, rendering the water undrinkable (even before thinking of all the microorganisms invisible to the naked eye!).

"[The water] was always dirty and you would wait for it to settle," Edwin explained. "Sometimes people could not access it because it always got dirt after [a] few people fetch[ed] it. When you [came home] from school, you [would] not get clean water to take [a] bath."

But now, things have changed - hygiene has improved, and people waste much less time fetching water and more time on other things.

"Now, it's easy to get water," Edwin said. "I can come back from school and fetch water without worries of getting it dirty. No matter how many people fetch the water, it cannot get dirty, unlike in the past.

"This water has helped me improve in my studies. I always take baths and concentrate on my studies [now]. This has helped me achieve a better score at school."

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 Khaunga A 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 Khaunga A 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 - In loving memory of Joseph and Florence Burgess