Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 250 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 07/02/2024

Project Features

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Please note: original photos were taken before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mulukobha Village is saturated with green vegetation; the community is known for its unique skills in agriculture. Accordingly, most people work as farmers, though there are some people who run small businesses or work for others.

Farm plots lead up to Omusebe Spring, which serves 250 people in Mulukobha. Although the spring is reliable and produces water year-round, its accessibility and contamination pose big challenges to community members here.

The area leading up to the spring is carved several feet below ground level into the mud, with a narrow entryway to the access point. The ground here is slick with mud due to the spring's constant output. Community members placed a few stones in this area to try to help themselves avoid the mud, but these, too, are slippery and unstable.

In an effort to improve the spring's discharge and community members' ease of access, they also dug a small trench from the spring's source and installed a long banana stem to help direct the water into a spout, under which people can place their jerrycans. But even the slightest adjustment of the stem, or of the ground upstream from it, can instantly turn the water dark brown with silt. This forces people to wait even longer while the dirt settles so they can once again fetch water.

Rains, too, turn the water brown with eroded soil. But even when the water looks clear, contaminants ranging from farm chemicals to animal waste pollute the water. Sometimes the pollutants are visible, too.

"Sometimes I have seen worms in the water. This caused me to fear drinking the water directly from the spring. It is not comfortable to draw the water from the spring, either," recalled 20-year-old Newton Masai.

"The water is open and anybody with ill intention can easily contaminate the water," said  35-year-old farmer Mildred Omusebe.

"We are afraid to drink the water directly from the spring; we have to boil the water to be sure of its safety."

But boiling requires firewood, which is already difficult enough and time-consuming to collect for cooking. So most people do without any treatment of the spring water, leading to water-related illnesses and their expensive treatment. Time, money, and energy lost when sick robs children of time in class and adults of their productive hours at home, on the farm, and at work.

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: Omusebe Spring Protection Complete!

Mulukobha Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Omusebe 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.

"Before the protection of this water point, we used to walk 5km to get drinking water. The water from this water point was only used for washing and doing other household chores but not for drinking. The water was dirty because it was open for contamination. Now that we have the protected spring near we will be able to save time in search of drinking water. The time saved I will be able to use it in other constructive projects like planting and watering of vegetables," said Mildred Omusebe, 35.

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

Newton, a young man from the community, shared, "Before the protection of this water point, I used to hate fetching water. But now, before I'm being sent, I just send myself to fetch water. The water point is accessible with ease because of the stairs, and also, there is no stepping on the stagnant water at the water point. This will help me save time, and I will be to concentrate on my studies and achieve my goal of becoming a chief accountant."

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. We officially handed over the spring to the spring chairperson, committee members, and community to mark the community's ownership of the water point. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day, flowing in all directions with singing and dancing to express their joy.

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 Adelaide Nasimiyu, Elvine Atieno, Joyce Naliaka deployed to the site to lead the event. Fourteen (14) people attended the training, including community-based leaders and village health volunteers. We held the training outside a community member's house under a tree for shade from the scorching sun.

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.

One very interactive session on personal hygiene and washing your bedding led to participants being vocal about their opinions on the subject. Mama Everlyne made the excellent point that those with young children who wet their beds should wash bedding more often. And Hillary added that he thought you need to wait until you start feeling some itchiness in your body before you wash bedding. Participants were surprised to hear the facilitator explain the importance of airing and washing their bedding every week to avoid skin-related diseases.

Hillary practices washing his hands with a leaky tin.

Hillary remarked about his experience after the session, "The training was very valuable to me. I got to learn a lot of important things. This knowledge that I have received today will enable me to lead a healthy life. I have learned that it is important to wash my beddings more regularly. By doing that, I will be able to get rid of skin diseases among my family members."

Mama Everlyne (left) waiting to collect water.

Mama Everlyne summarized her training experience saying, "After receiving the training we are now going to put on masks correctly, and wash our hands more often. To achieve this we are going to place leaky tins at the entrance of our homesteads to ensure everyone washes hands with soap."

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: Mulukobha Community, Omusebe Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Mulukobha 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: Dreams Realized, and Dreams in the Making!

February, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mulukobha 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 our intervention in Mulukobha, people had to mince their way through mud to reach the opening of a spring whose water often made them sick. Fetching water took a long time, and so did boiling it. With all these limitations, people hardly ever had spare time.

"Before, fetching water from this water point was risky and uncomfortable," said nine-year-old Fabian. "We had to step [in] the stagnant water while drawing water, and this caused [us] a lot of discomfort. The water point was open to contamination, and because of this, we fell sick most of the time."

But since we protected Omusebe Spring last year, the spring is easy to access, and its water is reliable and safe.

"Getting water now is easier because of the stairs," Fabian said. "We no longer fall sick because [we now drink] clean and safe water. This has enabled me to live a healthy life. I no longer fall sick, and this has made [me] spend most of my time at school."

"I use less time in fetching water and spend my quality time doing what I love," said Mildred Omusebe, whom we've interviewed each time we've visited Mulukobha. "The water from this water point has enabled me [to] be a farmer throughout the year, in rainy and drought seasons. It has helped me plant all types of vegetables. This has really transformed my life. I no longer depend on my husband and children for money, because now I can make my own money."

"Accessing clean and safe water for drinking has enabled me to live a healthy life," Fabian said. "This has helped me spend most of my time studying. I have greatly improved in my grades. With [these] grades, [I] am looking forward [to] becoming a doctor in [the] future. When I become a doctor, I will be able to help my community by treating them for free. They will no longer need to spend their money on medication."

Happy community members at the spring. Mildred is on the right in the orange shirt and Fabian is in front of her in the blue shirt.

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 Mulukobha 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 Mulukobha 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.