Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 400 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 07/03/2024

Project Features

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Please note, original photos were taken before the pandemic.

The Mushiibi community is fertile with farming activities, varying from food crops like maize and beans to cash crops like sugarcane. At the time of our last visit it was the planting and weeding season, and we could see community members using cows to help plow their fields. The area is green with a variety of home styles. Some are mud houses, others are semi-permanent, and some permanent. It is a vibrant community, and people are observing COVID-19 restrictions and guidance by ensuring there are water and soap in each of their home compounds for handwashing.

The name Mushiibi translates to "problems" or "troubles", and comes from the village's inception. When people first settled here, there were poisonous thorns in the bushes where they began constructing their homes. They always identified the area by saying if the thorns pierce you, then you are "in trouble," because you would become very sick. Even though the thorns are no longer there, the name carried over to present day.

The area has a steep terrain leading to Ambani Spring, where 400 people in Mushiibi go for all of their daily water needs. But the spring cannot produce clean water, and the water is rife with contamination.

Women here begin their day by fetching water at 6:00 am, after which they prepare breakfast, send children to school, and the men leave to take care of milking and grazing the cows and goats. Around 9:00 am, the women leave for farm work and come back around midday. They prepare lunch for the children and then go fetch more water for the livestock to drink and for bathing. Some days they do laundry after coming home from the farm, briefly relax, or attend to other tasks like church meetings. Women then look for firewood before looking for what to prepare for dinner. They fetch more water for bathing, families eat dinner, and then everyone goes to bed.

Due to Kenya's national coronavirus-related school closures until 2021, students are home all day and parents are using them to help fetch water throughout the day. More people at home means higher water needs, so the added pressure at the spring is coming at a bad time when community members are trying to avoid groups and limit their time spent in public.

At the spring, we saw how the community attempted to protect the backfill area, but they did not have the technical knowledge of how to do it currently. There are haphazard layers of bricks, rice sacks, and rocks visible from the ground up with gaps between all of them. But the spring is still not sealed in, so contaminants trickle - and sometimes pour, if it rains - into the spring. Dirty surface runoff carries farm chemicals, animal waste, and extra soil into the water.

The community also placed a discharge pipe near the bottom of the mound, though we noticed a lot of water escaping around the pipe. This leads to slow fill times and adds to the crowds at the spring.

To fetch water, community members must try to balance on some rocks they placed at the drawing point, though sometimes they end up stepping or falling into the water and mud anyway. The pooling water is dangerous for people to stand in, as there are visible worms, called mahuhuni in the local dialect, that attack people's feet and sometimes their hands when they get wet. When it rains, the area around the spring becomes particularly muddy and slippery, making it difficult to safely access the water.

Because the discharge pipe is so low to the ground, it can be difficult for community members to fit their containers below it. If their container cannot fit, they must bring a smaller jug to fill, then pour into their larger containers. The whole of fetching water is time-consuming and frustrating, and accidental bumps into the pipe often dislodge more dirt and particles into the water they collect.

Waterborne diseases including typhoid, amoeba, and diarrhea are widespread in this community. Community members also report frequent cases of sore throats and stomachaches after drinking this water, along with the sore muscles and injuries that come from falling while trying to leave the spring area with heavy containers of water.

"This water has insects in it, and when I drink it I get a sore throat. We are afraid to use the water for drinking but we have no other solution," explained 50-year-old farmer and spring landowner Beatrice Ambani.

"I always become sick, especially stomach pains. When it rains, it becomes muddy and slippery," said primary school Romano while explaining how the unprotected spring affects him.

Community members have already mobilized the local materials needed for this project, and they are excited at the possibility of accessing clean and safe water from Ambani Spring for the first time.

"Our lives will never be the same again," said community member Paul Oliya, who has seen the life-changing benefits of clean water at Mabanga Primary School, where he works as a teacher.

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

August, 2021: Ambani Spring Project Complete!

Mushiibi Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Ambani 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.

"This will be the closest reliable water point from our home. It will help my children have enough time to do their homework and other chores," said Beatrice Ambani.

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

"It will help me to drink clean water, and it impacts our health positively. Also, it will help in cooking. Since there are two pipes, it reduces time wastage and will help me do other duties at home," said Augustine K., 19.

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 rocks to break them down into gravel. Because people have to carry most items by hand, the materials collection process can take anywhere from a few weeks to months.

When the community members had prepared everything, 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! Locals lent their strength to the artisans 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, which is 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 pipe 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 clay is in short supply) and placed it at an 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. This helps discourage people and animals from standing in that area, which could cause soil erosion and thus a clogged drainage area.

We then 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 rocks with a thick plastic tarp to minimize potential contamination sources from aboveground, followed by a layer of soil. We piled enough dirt 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 to mark the community's ownership of the water point. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day, flowing in all directions.

There was a celebration of singing and dancing, and the women were especially happy and appreciative when we handed over the water point.

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 Emma, Elvine, and Julius deployed to the site to lead the event. Thirty-two people attended the training, including community-based leaders and village health volunteers. We held the training under a tree at a local homestead.

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 community members can use to start a group savings account for any future minor repairs to the spring and a cooperative lending group to enable members to develop small businesses.

"It was valuable. It will help me develop even more. I will educate my children. I will also encourage my fellow community members to develop ourselves for the better of our lives and children's future," said Ruth Masitsa.

When an issue arises concerning the spring, 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!

July, 2021: Ambani Spring Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Mushiibi Community drains people’s time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know this community through the introduction and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation, and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with more good news!

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 now clean, and I enjoy drinking it."

September, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mushiibi 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!

"The water used to be too dirty, and I used to suffer from diarrhea," said 11-year-old Cyprian O. when describing what the water flowing from Ambani Spring used to be like before.

But things changed for Cyprian and other community members once their spring was protected last year.

"The water is now clean, and I enjoy drinking it," he said.

And with cleaner water for drinking, Cyprian spends less time battling sickness and has more energy to concentrate on other things.

"I always enjoy going for water because it's clean. I am healthy, and I plan to improve in my studies and pass exams."

Beatrice Ambani, a 52-year-old farmer in Mushiibi echoed Cyrpian's sentiments.

"I am able to save time and money for other activities that help me to take care of my family. I and my family are healthy and strong," said Beatrice.

Children collect water from 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 Mushiibi 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 Mushiibi 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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