Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 240 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/07/2024

Project Features

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The Elwasambi area is slopy and vegetative, with indigenous trees throughout the land. Many of the houses are semi-permanent, and most of the roads are muddy during the rainy season and dusty during the dry season. Most community members here are small-scale farmers. They also have self-help groups that bring people together with one common goal of improving their farming skills and livelihoods.

Mboya Spring is the main source of water for 240 people who live in Elwasambi. The area around the unprotected spring is bushy and without an access point, making it particularly hard to collect water after it has rained. Animals pass through the collection area, further dirtying the water and access point. Animal droppings surrounded the water source - not a good sign for the water's safety and quality.

"Accessing the spring after it has rained is difficult because the spring does have a steep and slippery access point," said Rodrick, a young boy in the community.

A lot of time is spent - and wasted - every day at the unprotected spring. In the morning, long queues at the spring delay people going to their farms and other activities. Later, during lunchtime, most women fetch water again, making them late for preparing lunch for their school-going children who return home for the meal. This, in turn, makes the students late getting back to their afternoon lessons. This cycle of wasted time and lateness continues throughout the day, through dinner preparations and other domestic tasks requiring water. In the morning, the cycle begins again.

"I waste a lot of time in the morning collecting water, and also during lunchtime, making me delay in making lunch for the school-going students," said Phanice Inganga, a farmer and mother in the community.

Sometimes when the community members collect water at the unprotected spring, they find it dirty and contaminated due to the dogs and other animals that pass through the spring at night. Animals and heavy rains can dislodge the makeshift collection point community members made using an old iron sheet. When the water or iron sheet is disturbed, community members have to wait even longer to reset the metal and allow the silt to stir up in the water. As a result, to settle. Sometimes upon arriving at the spring, people find the iron sheet is missing entirely, complicating their efforts to fetch water.

Drinking contaminated water from the open spring leads to waterborne diseases. Community members say they are most frequently sick with typhoid, which drains them of their financial resources as they seek medicine. When sick, adults lose their ability to be productive, and students miss school. The dirty water from this spring is holding everyone back who uses it.

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 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 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 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: Mboya Spring Project Complete!

Elwasambi Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Mboya 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.

"Getting clean water will be much easier since it is no longer open [to contamination] and getting dirty. Now I will have plenty of free time since the water is safe 24/7. I can fetch water at any given time of day unlike before. We used to compete with children and animals. Getting clean water was very tricky. You had to wake up very early in the morning hours," said Phyllis Inganga, 36.

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

"I will now have good health unlike before. We had to boil drinking water to be safe and sometimes I lacked firewood or [would] come back home very late. I had no choice but to drink the water that way. Now [I] am drinking directly without any fear," said Eugene O.

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 to 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 handing-over ceremony where the water users took the opportunity to dance happily around in celebration. It was awesome!

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, David Muthama, Emma Nambuye, and Adelaide Nasimiyu deployed to the site to lead the event. Nine people attended the training, including self-help group members, government officials, and village health volunteers.

The training was held at the homestead of Mzee Charles Mboya. He provided everyone with plastic seats under the shade trees on his property so participants would be comfortable.

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.

Albert Wamukoya, a 29-year-old local farmer expressed his gratitude for the training, "Since I have been very stubborn sometimes I quarrel with my lovely wife because of the way I used to fetch water from the drinking pot. The same cup I used to drink with is the same cup I used to draw water from the pot. I was totally wrong and she was right."

The training helped Albert understand his wife's point of view better. She had been expressing her concern about water contamination in their home from how he was handling water.

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: Mboya Spring Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Elwasambi 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: "We can now access clean water in all seasons!"

September, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Elwasambi 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!

Before Mboya Spring was protected last year, collecting clean water was impossible.

"We used to drink dirty water, especially during rainy seasons, [when] the water was brown throughout. Stomachaches and diarrhea were the order of the day here," said 36-year-old farmer Phyllis Inganga.

Not only was the water dirty, but it was also contaminated by animals of all sorts. "We also used to share our water with frogs where frogs would dirtify [our] water in the process of us fetching," said Phyllis.

But things have been different for Phyllis and other community members since their spring was protected last year.

"We can now access clean water in all seasons," said Phyllis.

"We are happy we're now healthy and strong. [And] we are able to save some money that we spent on medication to do some income-generating activities such as improving our farming techniques," Phyllis concluded.

Phyllis (left) with other ladies enjoying 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 Elwasambi 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 Elwasambi 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.


The Hermosillo Family
7 individual donor(s)