Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 350 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/04/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

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

The 350 people in Ikoli who depend on Odongo Spring for water are facing a lot of challenges regarding their spring. First, the water point is open, exposing it to contaminants ranging from farm chemicals to animal waste and others. The spring water is not safe for drinking.

"l have been taking the spring water without any precautions, thus making me be sick on and off and thus I am spending a lot of money in the hospital," said 30-year-old farmer Emily Okumu.

Second, during dry seasons the spring becomes overcrowded due to its year-round reliability - but the process of fetching water without capturing the spring's full yield slows everyone down. Most of the spring's water flows directly down a rocky and muddy outcropping, while community members have only been able to capture a small portion of the discharge in a makeshift metal sheet wedged into the earth. It is frustrating and time-consuming to fill their buckets with this limited yield. Time spent at the spring means less time for other productive activities, such as farming, housework, and studying. Conflicts at the spring due to the long wait times, especially during the dry season and the academic year, are common.

"I have been wasting a lot of time during the dry season making a queue so that l can fetch water, causing me not to be able to complete my homework and be late at school. My parents have to spend a lot of money treating me of typhoid because of the dirty water," said young teenager Godwin.

Additionally, community members spend a lot of money buying medicine to treat their water-related illnesses contracted from drinking the dirty spring water. And time spent at home while sick means missed classes for students and missed labor and income-earning time for adults. Community members have always become sick after drinking from this spring, they say,  with waterborne diseases including typhoid and dysentery their most common issues. Some families have lost their relatives because of water-related diseases. Everyone here has been affected by the spring's unsafe water in one way or another.

The environment around the spring is not clean. There are animal footprints and waste from when they stand and drink directly from the spring. There are also farm waste deposits and soil erosion, contributing to the spring's contamination.

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

June, 2021: Odongo Spring Project Complete!

Ikoli Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Odongo 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.

Field Officer Joyce Naliaka (wearing mask) and community members celebrate the completed spring at the handing-over celebration, including Miriam Okumu, second from right.

"Being a farmer, safe water will, of course, be a key point in my farming activities which require a lot of water. The water will also be helpful in my domestic duties, hence my general hygiene will improve by a bigger margin," said Miriam Okumu, a farmer in the community.

A gesture of thanks between Water User Committee Chair Wilimina Atitwa and Field Officer Joyce.

"The water point will be key in kick-starting my irrigation plans which have been derailed by lack of sufficient water. Secondly, my cows and goats will be able to access water easily - something which was difficult before the spring was completed. This will in turn increase their productivity."

"Thank you, Milliman Group! Spring #2 Complete!"

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

"Before the spring was built, I used to go a long distance to fetch water for the cattle. However, the spring being this close means water will be easily accessible, which in turn will save more time for studies," said young teenager Abel.

Abel fetches water.

"The water point, I believe, will enable my parents to pay my academic fees which would be achieved from their irrigation projects."

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 deliver 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.

Taking measurements during excavation.

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.

Pouring 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.

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.


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 inside the fence

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.

Women celebrate the protected spring while fetching water.

We officially handed over the spring directly following training to mark the community's ownership of the water point. During the dedication ceremony, most if not all community members turned up. This was occasioned by singing and dancing as the community members were grateful for the project which to them would be helpful in dealing with their water shortage. 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.

Community members mask up at training.

When the day arrived facilitators Joyce, Adelaide, and Elvine deployed to the site to lead the event. Thirteen people attended the training including community-based leaders and self-help group members. On the day of the training, the weather looked gloomy since it was the rainy season. This made it more ideal for the training to be conducted close to the spring.

Physical distance check

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.

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.

Active question and answer 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.

The most memorable moment from training was during the session on water pollution and hygiene. Members were surprised to find out that water should not be kept in their water pots for more than three days due to the risk of bacteria or other contaminants affecting their water. Most of the community members said that they have been storing water in their pots for even a month considering the fact that they have small families.

Site management training at the spring

Another memorable moment was during the site management training session held at the spring. For the community members who were not present during the implementation process but attended training, they got excited at their first sight of the protected spring. They were amazed that the spring was now very safe and access was good from both sides of the spring.

Two-sided staircases help ease entry and exit at the spring.

"The training was very valuable to me because I had no knowledge of almost every topic that was being addressed, hence, the knowledge acquired would play a big role in my handling and managing of some situations in future," said Joyce Naomi, the community's organizer.

"The training was very valuable because generally, it has impacted my knowledge of the virus. Secondly, I have been made to understand that hygiene should always be key in my day-to-day operations. I could say that the training really impacted my hygiene, especially regarding my hands, which I had never taken a keen interest in cleaning. Therefore, the training really helped me," said Wilimina Atitwa, the elected Chair of the spring's water user committee.

Kids at the spring

"When the outbreak was announced in our country, as a community we had heard that the virus spread faster when in large crowds, so we took it upon ourselves to reduce communal meetings in order to curb its spread," Wilimina explained.

"As a community, we plan to really emphasize the importance of handwashing and social distancing which will play a bigger role in curbing the spread of the virus. My general feeling about the virus is for it to just disappear because it has really impacted our lives, but all in all, I have no worries because I'm very sure all my family members have taken the correct measures to curb it."

Women, including Water User Committee Chair Wilimina Atitwa (left), celebrate 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!

May, 2021: Odongo Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Odongo Spring is making people in Ikoli, 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: "The water is always clean."

June, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Ikoli Community 2.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Ikoli Community 2 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!

Eight-year-old Henry shared the challenges he faced when talking about his community's spring before it was protected last year. "The water was dirty and young children like myself were not easily allowed to come for water because we would dirtify it," said Henry.

But since Odongo Spring in Ikoli was protected last year, things have been different for Henry and other community members. He said, "I am happy that I can also be allowed to come for water. The water is always clean and I enjoy drinking."

We asked Henry what is something the water has helped him achieve. He said, "To go to school every day and learn when I am healthy."

Not only does he enjoy drinking the water, but when he is healthy and not ill from drinking dirty water, he can attend school more regularly. And hopefully, more time in school will give Henry a brighter future.

Henry on the spring's stairs.

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 Ikoli Community 2 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 Ikoli Community 2 – 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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