Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 300 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/04/2024

Project Features

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The Mushirongo area is a land with steep terrain. Most houses are semi-permanent, with few permanent houses. The area is vegetated as a majority of the community members are small-scale farmers.

300 people in the Mushirongo area depend on unprotected Eshikhanda Spring for water. But the unprotected spring compromises the water's safety, and it isn't easy to access.

As a result of the cramped, bushy, and slippery access point to the spring, fetching water and moving in and out of the spring are often slow processes. As a result, long queues form at the spring each day, leading to time wastage for those waiting.

The community members prefer fetching water very early in the morning to get to the rest of their day's activities on time. For women, these include work, farming, and domestic chores, including cooking. For children dependent on their mothers to have meals cooked in time for school, delays in their day often mean they are late for school. Sometimes, if the lines are too long during the day, some women feel forced to fetch water late in the evening. This delays them from getting home to prepare for the evening meal; however, the next day, the cycle of waiting and delayed work repeats.

"I waste time queueing here so that I can fetch water. As it is now that it's not protected, I take much time to access it, which compromises my daily activity as a mother," said Gladys Inzofu.

Open to contamination, the spring water is contaminated and hence not safe for drinking. Waterborne diseases like diarrhea and cholera are frequent among families that depend on this spring, community members say. According to Gladys, children have been complaining of stomachaches due to drinking water from this source, and it is her prayer that the spring is protected so that there will be no such cases among them all.

Drinking contaminated water leads to waterborne and water-related diseases, which are costly for community members to treat. When sick, adults and children alike are robbed of their energy and time for other endeavors.

The makeshift discharge pipe that the community lodged directly into the earth near the spring's water comes to the surface is not very secure. Any disturbance of the land behind the pipe or the pipe itself from animals, hands, or even heavy rains stirs up mud and debris in the water. When this happens, it further slows people down as they wait for the water to clear before they can begin fetching it again.

"The water source is open to contamination, hence making it not safe for me. Sometimes, when I go to fetch and find out that it's not clean, I just come back with an empty container and wait for odd hours when it has settled," said Dennis, a boy who lives in the community.

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

October, 2021: Mushirongo Community, Eshikhanda Spring Protection Complete!

Mushirongo Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Eshikhanda 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 community started off sieving tiny bugs from each jerrycan of water and only half-believing political candidates who curried favor by promising to help them protect their spring. But now, they have a protected spring and a water user committee to help maintain it.

"Waterborne diseases will be a thing of the past since this water is safe and clean," said Gladys Inzofu, 35. "Water drawing will be easy since access is now good."

Gladys at the spring.

Now that the spring is protected, Gladys said she will be able to manage her time better. "I will undertake more chores," she vowed.

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

"The water is clean and easy to access using the pipe," said 12-year-old Dennis N. "I will finish my chores quickly and have enough time to play and study."

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.

With local leadership, we officially handed over the spring to mark the community's ownership of the water point. The community members were urged by the local administration to keep the spring clean so that it can help them longer. The village elder announced that anyone found contaminating the spring would face consequences.

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 (Emmah, Joy, Mercy, Margaret, and David) deployed to the site to lead the event. 25 people—more than we had expected—attended the training, including 18 women, seven men, and even the village elder. We held the training beside the new spring as the weather was nice.

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.

"I did not know the different types of masks and how they can be used," said Benjamin Washitakaya, 67. "I am now knowledgeable and will share the same to the rest."

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.

"I have really benefitted from the soap-making training," said Lynah Okutoyi, a 51-year-old farmer. "Now I will be able to have enough soap for my family and also to maintain hygiene."

Lynah helps a boy put on his mask.

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.

One of the village elders, Benjamin Washitakaya, who works in the carbon trading industry, also took the opportunity to educate his fellow community members about environmental factors in maintaining the spring.

"I have had an opportunity to talk to the community on the importance of removing the eucalyptus trees near any water points, and also protecting the riparian (river-bordering) area," Benjamin said.

As a community, they expressed their gratitude for making it possible for them to access safe and clean water. They had tried protecting the spring on their own, but it collapsed. They also applauded our qualified artisans and said the good work is evident. They have committed to managing the spring well through the Water User Committee leadership. They promised to meet and add other posts so that they can manage the spring well. They thanked everyone for considering them.

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!

August, 2021: Eshikhanda 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: "I am now strong."

January, 2023

A year ago, your generous donation helped Mushirongo 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 Mushirongo Community 2.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mushirongo 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!

When we first met Gladys in 2020, the water crisis was impacting her ability to mother her children. She would constantly face delays in preparing their meals, washing their clothes, and keeping everyone clean because every trip to the water point meant hours of walking and waiting.

"I used to waste a lot of time queuing for water because the discharge was too low," Gladys explained.

Before its protection, the spring's discharge pipe only produced a tiny stream, so filling each jerrycan took a long time. But now that the spring's water is properly filtered and channeled, filling a container takes much less time.

"I spend little time to get water, and this helps me to save time and engage in other activities," Gladys said.

Another benefit of the protected spring is the safer water it yields. People are no longer being hospitalized for water-related illnesses. This has helped Gladys to feel more capable in her own body.

"Because of clean water, I am now strong, and I am able to save money and time and engage in other income-generating activities," Gladys concluded.

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 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 Mushirongo 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.


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