Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 280 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/01/2024

Project Features

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Mushirongo Community is covered in green vegetation; most people here are farmers who plant maize, sugarcane, and beans on a small scale. A few people do casual labor jobs such as construction or working on others' farms. The roads in this area are rough, becoming very muddy during the rainy season. Most houses are semi-permanent with iron sheet roofs and mud walls.

280 people in Mushirongo depend on Were Spring for water. In its unprotected state, the spring has several issues. The community members tried to protect the spring on their own, but they were unsuccessful without the proper materials or technical expertise.

The spring's eyes, where its water originates, are still open to contamination from surface runoff that carries farm chemicals, dirt, and residues from animal waste. Some people also do their laundry around the spring, where the soapy and dirty water flows into the spring water. As a result, the spring water is not clean or safe, putting community members' health at risk. When they get sick, community members cannot afford medicines from the hospital, so most depend on traditional medicines to get better. Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to recover.

Community members improvised a discharge pipe by lodging a plastic pipe between rocks and the earth near where the spring's water comes to the surface. The pipe, however, is not capturing all of the spring's natural output. This slows community members down as they watch the uncaptured spring water escape down the rocks and ground around the pipe. All of the time people waste at the spring due to its currently limited yield means delayed daily schedules and reduced productivity in other aspects of their lives.

"When you get people (adults) at the spring, they cannot allow you as a child to fetch water before them. Sometimes my mum thinks that I was playing at the water source, and therefore she punishes me for delaying bringing her water," said young boy Flevian.

The crowding and wait times at the spring are at their worst in the evening, on weekends, and during the dry season. Sometimes conflicts break out among community members, frustrated at the delays in this necessary and basic task. When other seasonal springs in the area dry up, local spring users must also contend with neighboring villages coming to Were Spring for its reliable water, which sometimes makes the wait times unbearable.

"I wanted to plant vegetables and use the spring water for irrigation, but by the time that I was supposed to irrigate the vegetables, the water source was so crowded, my vegetables dried up, and I was not able to continue with the project," said Sara Mikalo, a young farmer and mother.

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 the 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 ensure participants have the knowledge they need about healthy practices and their importance to make the most of their water point 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

August, 2021: Were Spring Project Complete!

Mushirongo Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Were 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.

"It will reduce water-related diseases that have been here like typhoid. The money that would be used to treat the water-related diseases will be used to improve the livelihoods of the community. And I will grow vegetables for sukuma (a traditional dish of collard greens, tomatoes, and onions), which I will irrigate using water from the spring, then sell and get some income," said Sara.

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

"It will reduce the time I use to spend in the morning fetching water at the unprotected spring and thus enable me to get to school early to attend the morning lessons. I will use the time I spent in the morning going to collect water to read and improve my studies," said Flevian.

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 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 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! 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 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 the 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 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.

Since the community had participated in the construction process in large numbers, there was a large celebration with dancing and splashing of water at the waterpoint. Benjamin Washitakaya, one of the community members and the Chairperson of Water Environment and Natural Resources in Elwasambi Community, thanked everyone for helping the community in protecting 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 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 Edmond Otieno and Joyce Naliaka deployed to the site to lead the event. The community health volunteer had been told about the training and assured us that she would attend the training and mobilize other community members. Eleven people attended the training under a tree on a community member's homestead, including community-based leaders and village health volunteers. The participants sat one meter apart, observing all COVID-19 protocols.

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.

"We plan to introduce a social awareness campaign to create awareness to the whole community on ways of preventing the spread of coronavirus," said Nicholas.

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!

July, 2021: Were Spring project underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Mushirongo 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: Finally, Time to Play!

September, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mushirongo 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 first visited Mushirongo Community, Were Spring was always crowded. People woke up as early as they could in an attempt to win the race against others within the community for water.

At the time, we spoke to young Flevian W., who said: “When you get people (adults) at the spring, they cannot allow you as a child to fetch water before them. Sometimes, my mum thinks that I was playing at the water source, and therefore she punishes me for delaying bringing her water."

One year after the spring's protection, Flevian had different things to say.

"People are not always crowded, so getting water is easier than before," Flevian said.
"I get time to go and play with my friends because I can come back and fetch water any time."

"We always get water easily since at any given time [the] water is always clean," said another community member, Sarah, a 27-year-old farmer. "[I] am able to preserve the environment because I have planted some flowers which I use to water with the water from the spring."

Now that Mushirongo's people have access to clean water, they have free time to enjoy life—and their more beautiful environment!


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 Mushirongo 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 Mushirongo 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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