Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/07/2024

Project Features

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The area around Edward Spring is scarcely vegetated and surrounded by mud-walled houses with iron sheet rooftops. The Khunyiri area is also rocky, which brings about rising slopes throughout the community. Living here are small-scale farmers who depend on maize, sweet potatoes, and arrowroots for food. Most members of this community are Wanga, a sub-tribe of the Luhya people.

Edward Spring serves about 500 people in Khunyiri, but the spring's unprotected state compromises the water's safety and people's ability to fetch it efficiently.  The daily long queues at the spring waste community members' time and delay their daily activities. This is especially true in the morning when most women prefer fetching water before embarking on other household and work-related activities.

The spring's narrow, rocky, and slippery access adds to the congestion and time spent at the spring as there is no convenient way in or out of the water point. Overcrowding at the spring brings about many problems among the users, including arguments and competition for water, causing disunity. Children get into disagreements at the spring as well.

"It affects me a lot, especially during the morning hours when the water point is crowded, and I intend to catch up with other chores, thus making it difficult for time management," said Alice Shikhule, a farmer and young mother describing the daily situation at the spring.

The unprotected spring is open to contamination which causes waterborne diseases among community members—these illnesses costing families financially as they seek medication and treatment. Community members report cholera, dysentery, and amoebiasis as the order of the day for those living here.

"The water source is open and contaminated, infecting me with diseases that cause my absence in school. Due to inconvenience in reaching the water point, it makes it difficult for me to fetch water," explained young teenager Brian.

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 community's female members 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 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 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 critical 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 firmly 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 forming 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

September, 2021: Khunyiri Community, Edward Spring Project Complete!

Khunyiri Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Edward 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.

"To start with, this project generally has brought about satisfaction and peace of mind knowing that I participated in a noble activity," said local farmer Alice Shikhule, 26. "This, I feel, will be essential in my productivity."

Alice at the spring.

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

"This water point has really unlocked my potential," said William K., a nine-year-old student. "Seeing how the community members were excited when the spring was completed, I would like to work hard and be a successful person in [the] future to help other needy communities."

William at the spring.

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.

Women bring bricks to the construction site.

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.

Diversion channel.

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.

The community members thought of organizing a small ceremony, which was attended by the village heads, a Community Health Volunteer, and the chairperson of the Water Environment and Natural Resources Conservation.

The ceremony kicked off to a bright start with some celebratory songs and dances, followed by a few congratulatory messages and speeches from the leaders, which mainly focused on the sustainability and conservation of the spring. They thanked us and promised to work hand-in-hand to take care of the water point. 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.

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 Joyce, Jacquey, and Elvine deployed to the site to lead the event for the 17 people who attended.

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.

Moses Olando, chairperson of the newly formed water user committee, explained why the COVID-19 portion of the training was vital for him: "Personally, the training has equipped me with very vital information. What really caught my attention was the continued mention of maintaining social distance and wearing of masks. I also learned that based on my age, I'm at a high risk of contracting the virus, and so I'm inspired to continuously protect myself and my loved ones."

Moses Olando.

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 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.

"The most helpful part of the training that really caught my full attention was the handwashing techniques," Moses said. "This has really been a very big problem to most of the members in our community."

Bilha A., a 17-year-old student, shared which topics impacted her the most: "Through the training, I've been able to gain adequate knowledge about how to maintain high standards of hygiene and the importance of doing so. Having the knowledge, hygiene will always be my priority so as to avoid infectious illnesses such as COVID-19. I'll also be able to create awareness to others about the same."

Bilha washing her hands at the training.

"Something which I've always wanted to achieve was safe, clean, and accessible water to all the members in the community," Alice Shukhela concluded.

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: Edward Spring Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Khunyiri 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: Smiles for Clean Water!

September, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Khunyiri 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 originally visited Edward Spring in Khunyiri, community members were struggling because the spring was overcrowded, difficult to access, and producing contaminated water that was making people sick.

"It was hard to get water. Sometimes I would fall down because of the place being muddy," said eight-year-old William when describing the spring's previous condition.

But since we protected the spring last year, thankfully, things have improved for William and other community members.

"The stairs are good because they prevent me from falling," William said.

"I can easily get water, and I don't get sick. I will not be absent from school because of sickness, and this will help me pass [my] exams," concluded William.

Fellow community member Felister Weyama, a 65-year-old farmer and trader, said, "Before this project was completed, the water was dirty and made us suffer from diarrhea quite often."

But since the spring's protection, Felister is also noticing her improved health and easier access to water.

"I can easily access water faster and get back home to do other work. I no longer get sick due to dirty water, and therefore I am able to do my own work well," concluded Felister.

William (grey shirt) and other happy community members, including Felister (in the headscarf) 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 Khunyiri 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 Khunyiri 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.


SEVA - Sai Baba Temple Society of Ohio
The McKinney Family
4 individual donor(s)