Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 350 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/07/2024

Project Features

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Lutali A is a rural, peaceful area. Looking out across the village, it is highly vegetated with crops like maize, beans, sugarcane, and trees. Most buildings here are semi-permanent with smeared mud walls and floors; very few homes are made of cement.

There are 350 people in Lutali A who depend on Khavana Spring for water, but they face many challenges at this water point.

In its unprotected state, Khavana Spring is open and exposed to many contaminants thus making it unsafe for drinking. In an attempt to improve the spring's water quality, the community tried to backfill the area and inserted a discharge pipe into the ground. But without the proper materials or technical expertise of how to protect a spring, they fell short of their safe water goals. Surface runoff still pollutes the water, carrying farm chemicals, animal waste, and other contaminants. During the rainy season, the spring water turns brown due to the large amount of soil that gets washed into the water as well.

Community members spend a lot of time and money seeking medical treatment for their water-related illnesses. People here most commonly report cases of typhoid, diarrhea, and dysentery after drinking this spring water. Some community members have also lost their loved ones due to water-related diseases. But they have no other water source within walking distance they can turn to.

"We have been sick always as a family of typhoid, and l have spent a lot of money on treatment. Being sick always has caused me not to work so that l cannot provide for my family," explained 34-year-old farmer Benedict Shona.

While adults miss out on crucial productivity at home, at work, and on the farm while they are sick, kids miss their school lessons and fall behind.

"I have been sick always of stomach pain, thus making me be absent in school and not able to complete my homework in time," said local pupil, lvy.

Sometimes the money families owe for medical attention and medicine were intended for their children's school fees, and pupils cannot attend if their fees are not maintained. The students, consequently, fall further behind.

The village elder said if only their spring were protected, the community members and members from Nangavo Market, which is also nearby, will access clean and safe water and there will be no sicknesses caused by waterborne diseases. The community members would do their daily activities without any struggle, he added, improving their livelihoods, and thus becoming better people in their society.

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

November, 2021: Lutali A Community, Khavana Spring Protection Complete!

Lutali A Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Khavana 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.

Metrine Wechuli, 32, plans to use the water to improve her family's lives in multiple ways. "I will use the water to do irrigation, which will ensure I have enough food, and also ensure hygiene and sanitation is well-managed in my family by using clean water from the spring, thus promoting healthy living."

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

"Access to reliable and safe water will help me stay healthy and reduce the number of [times] going to [the] hospital for treatment since I used to get sick from the contaminated water," said 16-year-old Godfrey M.

Godfrey collecting water.

But he has plans for the water besides just getting healthier. "I am planning to utilize my weekends to plant vegetables and use the water for irrigation," Godfrey said. "This will help me raise some money for exams and other personal needs for my studies."

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.

Khavana community members supported the project wholeheartedly, as seen by the way they conducted themselves in organizing materials and taking care of our artisan for the project days. They did not shy away from the hard work involved!

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.

After the project was completed, the field officer in charge handed it over to the community members, who were so excited to see a well-constructed water point with clean flowing water. The beneficiaries' joy could not be hidden from their faces as they shouted with joy. The field officer pronounced that they were free to fetch water from 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. Even so, we had a higher number of participants than we were anticipating. The community members said they didn't want to learn any of the information secondhand.

When the day arrived, facilitators Laodia Chebet, Joyce Naliaka, and Elvine Ekesa deployed to the site to lead the event. 18 people attended the training, including 13 females and five males.

"The training was of much value to me since from today, I will be able to make sure hygiene and sanitation is the key to [the] healthy growth of my family," said Lucy Chimita, a 40-year-old farmer.

Lucy at the training.

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.

"The most helpful part of the COVID-19 sensitization knowledge that I received today, and hopefully to create awareness to my fellow community members, is about myths and misconceptions about the deadly virus," said Janet Amakobe, 46.

Janet Amakobe.

"The facilitator told us that this disease is not only affecting the white-skinned and urban people, but if anyone fails to follow the guidelines by the Ministry of Health, [they] will eventually get affected, despite skin color, race, tribe, age, or gender."

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.

"Me and my community members plan to ensure every home has a handwashing station at the entrance of [each] compound for washing hands regularly with soap and running water," Janet said. "We also plan to make our own masks by using locally available materials to ensure we protect ourselves, families, and friends."

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.

Spring site management training.

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!

October, 2021: Lutali A Community, Khavana Spring Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Lutali A 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: Time for studying!

February, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Lutali A 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!

"Before the spring was protected, it was time-consuming to fetch water since it was hard for me to access the spring because the area around the spring was slippery," said ten-year-old Brian J.

"Since the protection of the spring, it has been so easy for me to access the water using the stairs and thus save time to fetch water and use it for home chores [and] also save time for me to study.

"I have managed to join the Agricultural Club. Thus, we have been able to plant and irrigate vegetables in this club. The money from [the] sale of our products will be used to support our education in terms of small amounts of fees," concluded Brian.

Brian (far left) with friends 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 Lutali A 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 Lutali A 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.