Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 560 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jul 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/07/2024

Project Features

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

Eshimuli is a very cool and vegetated area with minimal shops around. The roads leading to the village are made of packed clay and gravel with potholes in some places along the way. Most of the houses here are semi-permanent.

560 people in Eshimuli depend on Mbayi Spring for all of their daily water needs. The 2 biggest challenges they face at the spring are contaminated water and difficulty accessing the water.

Unprotected Mbayi Spring looks like just a small muddy puddle. The area leading up to the spring is slick with mud, rocks, and dead leaves. The community members have tried to form walls with the mud to capture the spring water, though a lot of it escapes on either side of the pool. To fetch water, people must gently scoop from the top of the pool with a small jug, then pour this water into the larger jerrycans they bring.

The more people who fetch water, the more mud gets stirred up in the water. There are always conflicts between children and adults at the spring, especially in the evening hours, weekends, and holidays. This is because the adults want to be the first to fetch water and rush to their other work, forgetting that even the children have also been sent to fetch water quickly before starting their house chores or homework. If the water becomes dirty from other people fetching it, others have to wait to let the water settle before they can begin scooping it. The process is time-consuming and frustrating for everyone, and tensions often run high.

In addition to dirt, runoff from the rains carries other toxins straight into the drinking water, including farm chemicals and animal waste. During the rainy season, the spring water turns brown from having so much eroded soil in it. Within the muddy and wet access area at the spring, there are flukeworms inside the water which bite people as they step inside the spring to fetch water.

The water crisis in Eshimuli paralyzes the daily schedule of almost every homestead throughout the year. Relying on unprotected Mbayi Spring impacts the women in the community since they are predominantly the ones who fetch water in each family. Community members are forced to wake up very early in the morning and make several trips to the spring to fetch water before doing anything else each day. This is to fetch the cleanest water of the day before too many people get to the spring.

Once they return home, the women take breakfast and go to the farm until lunch hour. For the rest of the day, the amount of work and chores that can be accomplished are determined by how long they have to wait at the spring in the afternoon and evening. The evening can be the spring's busiest time, delaying families' dinner and bathing routines at night. Then, the next morning before sunrise, the cycle continues.

Waterborne illnesses also impact community members' schedules, taking away precious school time from children and productive hours at work, at home, and on the farm for adults.

"Whenever I drink this water, I'm always infected by flu that leads to malaria and typhoid," said 50-year-old farmer and spring landowner Antony Mbayi.

"When I drink this water," added teenager Dorine, "I always feel stomachache and diarrhea."

Dorine expressed the most commonly reported water-related illnesses among all community members here. One time, this spring water affected almost everybody in the community at the same time, they said, an issue that led them all to seek medical attention. But hospital visits and medicines are expensive, and families often must choose between paying for this treatment or their other basic needs, such as children's school fees and farm inputs.

The choice is hardly a fair one.

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. Therefore, protecting the spring and offering training and support will 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 training 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, which 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 to alter their practices at the personal, household, and community levels to affect change. This training will help ensure participants have the knowledge they need about healthy practices and their importance to make the most of their water points as soon as the 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 handling, storing, and treating water. Having a clean water source will be extremely helpful, but it is useless if water gets contaminated by the time it is consumed. The community and we 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 training 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 spring's operations and maintenance. 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

July, 2021: Mbayi Spring Project Complete!

Eshimuli Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Mbayi 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 be able to save time since clean water is in my backyard. Before the protection of this water point, I used to walk miles away in search of clean and safe water for drinking. Since I have more time at hand, I will focus on my farming activity. I will plant more vegetables and sell more because of the availability of controlled water," said Gladys.

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

"Before the protection of the water point, we used to drink dirty water, and most of the time we fell sick and lost time at home instead of being in school. Accessing reliable, clean, and safe water from this water point will enable me to lead a healthy life. A life free from diseases. Since I will be leading a healthy life, I will be able to concentrate on my studies and pursue my dreams of becoming a teacher," said Dennis.

Preparing for Spring Protection

Community members worked together to source and carry 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.

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. Next, 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.

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.

If we place the discharge pipes 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.

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.

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.

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. 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.

The community members were so excited for the spring. They invited the village elder to be part of the handing over ceremony. Due to COVID-19, the shaking of hands wasn't possible. The field officer in charge made a short speech after handing over the spring to the community. Cheering and celebration indicated they were grateful for the project.

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 to relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

When the day arrived, facilitators Adelaide Nasimiyu, Joyce Naliaka, and Elvine Atieno deployed to the site to lead the event. Twenty-one people attended the training, including community-based leaders. We held the training outside under a tree to shelter the participants from the scorching sun and so they could space themselves out to maintain physical distance.

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 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. In addition, 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 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 facilitator explained to trainees the causes of water pollution and also took them through water purification processes. The process that amazed all of them is the process of SODIS(solar purification). They could not believe how the water became pure and safe for drinking just by placing the water under the sun for six hours. They were grateful for the knowledge received. They were glad that they would save fuel previously used to boil water and money used buying water treatments.

"Now that we have proper knowledge on the measures to take to prevent COVID-19, we will wear masks wherever we go out, wash our hands with soap and water more often, and put up more handwashing stations. We will also avoid crowds and observe the physical distance," said Francis.

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!

June, 2021: Mbayi Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Mbayi Spring is making people in Eshimuli, 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: More Studying and Farming!

August, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Eshimuli 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!

When we spoke to Gladys Achieng last year, she shared that she had to walk miles in search of clean and safe water.

"We used to waste time queuing and taking dirty water at the same time," said Gladys.

But now that the spring has been protected, Gladys has regained her valuable time since water is always accessible. With her regained time, she plans to increase her farming efforts.

"We can easily access clean water without struggling and wasting time," said Gladys. "I wish to do farming of kale since it will be easier for me to manage because I have enough water."

Gladys isn't the only one saving time.

Seventeen-year-old student Dennis M. shared, "The time I used to waste fetching water I can now be able to study and complete my homework."

With more time available, who knows what the future will bring for Gladys, Dennis, and their fellow community members.

Gladys and Dennis at the 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 Eshimuli 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 Eshimuli 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.


Imago Dei Community
10 individual donor(s)