Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 280 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/04/2024

Project Features

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Emalingana is a rural area which is very cool and vegetated. The homes are scattered across the land, and most of them are semi-permanent while a few are parmanent. The shopping center is a bit far from the community with just a very few shops around. What makes this community unique is that there are no issues of theft; people are afraid of stealing from others since everyone knows their neighbor. They are also known in helping each other despite the fact they are poor.

There are 280 people here who depend on Andayi Spring for all of their water needs, even though the spring water is highly contaminated. Women wake up very early in the morning to fetch water in an effort to fetch the cleanest water available for the day. Some wake up as early as 5:00 am to prepare their children for school, clean the house, and then rush to the spring to fetch water several times. When the women come home, they clean any dirty utensils from breakfast or the day before, go to work on their farms, and come home again around noon to prepare lunch and feed the family. Lunch is followed by another trip to the spring so they can fetch water for their livestock, and by late afternoon it is time to fetch water again for cooking dinner and bathing.

Right now, fetching water has to come before all else because it is so difficult to collect clean water. Most community members will end up walking to the spring, waiting their turn to fetch water, and walking home with their full containers up to 10 times in a day. On laundry days, that number increases.

There is so much extra time lost at the spring due to its unprotected state. Community members tried to cover up the spring's source with soil and inserted a makeshift discharge pipe into the earth over a concrete ledge, but this system misses a lot of the water the spring is producing. The water is visibly pouring out from under the inserted pipe, no matter how hard community members have tried to capture it. This leads to slower fill times for every container a community member brings, and consequently, large crowds and long lines. The latter is especially concerning during the pandemic when community members are trying to avoid groups and limit their time spent in public.

To access the spring, people must stand in the muddy puddle that remains opposite the discharge area. The surrounding area is slick with mud as well, making for tricky entrances and exits from the water point. Falls and their related injuries are not uncommon, especially among the children who come to the spring.

The water is contaminated with surface runoff, which carries farm chemicals and animal waste directly to the water source. During the rainy seasons, large amounts of soil are washed into the water as well. Sometimes there is so much dirt, the spring is covered over with soil and the washout carries away the pipe they installed. The water also changes color, ranging from brown to milky white, depending on the most prevalent contaminant each day. At times the water gives off a bad odor, too.

But the community members depend on this source, so they have no choice but to fetch the water even though its environment compromises its safety. Cases of diarrhea and stomachaches are commonly reported after drinking the spring water, as are cases of skin itching and rashes after using it to bathe. But most water treatment methods come at a cost, so community members mostly take the spring water untreated. Boiling, for example, requires too much firewood that they cannot spare, and other methods require purchases in the market.

"I don't boil or treat this water before drinking; it took me some time to realize that all the issues in my stomach are caused by unclean water," said 40-year-old farmer Josephine Wabwire.

Young primary school student Fabricas said the spring water is "dirty, tastes bad, and smelly," and it "causes stomachache and diarrhea whenever I drink it. The access area is also not safe."

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

October, 2021: Emalingana Community, Andayi Spring Protection Complete!

Emalingana Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Andayi 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.

Josephine Wabwire, a 45-year-old farmer, is excited for her future now that the spring is complete. "There will be no particles in the water because it's now covered and clean. Even if it rains, we will be able to access it, unlike before."

Josephine collecting water.

"[The] water is now clean, and we will not have cases of waterborne diseases," Josephine continued. "There is an ease of access because of the stairs. I will be comfortable to send my children to fetch water from this water point."

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

"I will not waste time fetching water in the morning before going to school, unlike before," said Immanuel, 10. "I will now concentrate on my studies."

Immanuel at the spring.

Preparing for Spring Protection

Community members work 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, 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.

We pitched medium to large stones on both sides of the spring's drainage channel in coordination with brickwork.

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 disturb 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.

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 (Jacqueline Kangu, Elvine Atsieno, Joy Ongeri, and Mercy Odongo) deployed to the site to lead the event. Nine people attended the training, including six women and three men (and one chicken!).

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.

Solomon Wakhu, 34, was thankful for this portion of the training. "This will help me [know] how to live and engage with community members, and also how to take care of myself and those around me so that we control ourselves from conducting this deadly disease."

Solomon helps Immanuel put on his mask during the training.

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.

Esther Were, a 32-year-old farmer who lives in the community, said, "[The training] will help me improve hygiene. There are some of the things I have been ignoring, but from today I will put [them] into practice. This training has also taught me how to live with my fellow community members."

And COVID-19 wasn't the only thing Solomon learned about. "I didn't know that [I] am supposed to wash hands regularly with soap and running water for at least twenty seconds. I have not been using soap, but I now know the importance of using soap."

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.

"I will water my vegetables and sell them to the nearest communities," Josephine said. "I will make bricks using water from Andayi Spring and sell to builders and earn a living through it."

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!

September, 2021: Andayi Spring Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Emalingana 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 healthy and strong"

January, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Emalingana 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 community members of the Emalingana Community used to collect and use dirty water because they had no other choice when their spring was unprotected.

"I always felt bad whenever it was time to get water because the water was always dirty," said 60-year-old farmer and chair of the water user committee, Sophie Atemba.

But after the spring was protected last year, collecting and using dirty, contaminated water became a thing of the past.

"I am happy because I can easily access clean water all the time. I am healthy and strong, and this enables me to be productive in my farming activities," said Sophie.

Now that Sophie has all the water she needs, she has big plans for the future.

"I plan to do large-scale farming of kale because it will give me a good yield, which I'll sell during [the] dry season, and this will help improve my lifestyle," concluded Sophie.

It's exciting to think about what Sophie might do in the future.

Sophie Atemba.

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 Emalingana 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 Emalingana 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.