Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 504 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/07/2024

Project Features

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Butunyi village is a vegetated area because most of the community members are small-scale farmers who have involved themselves in different farming activities. Most people live in semi-permanent houses with a few living in permanent homes. Apart from farming, women from this community are particularly known for running their own small businesses. People from neighboring communities come to buy different things from them. The Butunyi women believe that a woman should go the extra mile in taking care of her children without depending on her husband.

504 people in Butunyi depend on unprotected Elijah Spring as a year-round water source. This is a large number to depend on one spring, and as a result, long queues and a lot of wasted time are the norm for the women and children who fetch water here every day. Some prefer fetching water very early in the morning or late in the evening in the hope of avoiding the crowds. But fetching in the morning delays the women from doing other things like going to the garden, going to the market for those who do small businesses, and preparing their kids to go to school. Fetching in the evening, on the other hand, delays the women from going to the market to sell their commodities and also preparing supper.

The spring's open nature means the water is open to contamination which leads to waterbone diseases among the community members. Hence, the water is not safe for human consumption. Community members say cholera and stomachaches are commonly contracted among those that depend on this spring.

"The water source is open to contamination, making the water not safe for drinking. I make an effort of fetching it either early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid queueing and going home with dirty water because we are many," said Susan Were Makokha, referring to the large number of people relying on the spring.

The area directly around the spring also has a steep and then muddy and slippery terrain, making it particularly difficult for the many children who need to access the water daily.

"This water source is on a slopy terrain which makes it difficult for me to access water, especially during rainy season, and also it's very open and the water gets dirty easily," said a young Grivin.

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: Elijah Spring Protection Complete!

Butunyi Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Elijah 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.

"Cases [of] waterborne diseases have now come to an end because the water point is covered, and [the] water is clean and safe," said Susan Elijah, 32. "It has been a challenge to fetch water after it has rained because the point was open to contamination. [Now], it is protected and I can fetch water anytime."

Susan at the spring.

Susan has plans for this water beyond just being healthy. "I will use water from this spring to start a vegetable garden, sell some to my community members, and eat some," she said. "I will also use water to make bricks and sell [them] so that I can get school fees for my daughter."

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

"I will not waste time fetching water before going to school," said Grivin M., who is 10 years old.

Grivin fetching water at the new spring.

"Water from this source will help me water our sukuma wiki (collard greens)," he continued. "No day we will lack green vegetables in our garden!"

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 mark the community's ownership of the water point. Community members, the area council leader, and the community health volunteer attended the handing-over ceremony. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day, flowing in all directions. Butunyi Community members send their regards to everyone who contributed to the spring protection.

Even the kids joined in.

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 Elvine Atsieno, Joyce Naliaka, and Adelaide Nasimiyu deployed to the site to lead the event. 17 people attended the training, including 11 women and six men.

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 have known that it's important for me to stay safe and protect my family from contracting this deadly disease," said Jared Elijah, 87. "I have an elderly wife who doesn't go out, and it's my responsibility to make sure she is not infected. Through the training, I have known what to do to keep the disease away from us."

Mr. Elijah, a village elder, gives thanks to everyone for attending 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.

"[The training] will help me live in a clean environment, eat clean food, and drink clean and safe water. It has taught me how often I should wash my beddings, clean food before eating, and to fetch water using [a] clean and covered container," said Christine Simiyu, 35. "My family and I will no longer face challenges I have been facing before like skin disease and waterborne diseases."

Community health volunteer assists training attendee with handwashing.

For Butunyi Community, the most memorable topic was water storage. The majority of the participants did not know the importance of storing water properly; they had been washing their water storage facilities only once in a while. They also had been adding water to their storage containers without bothering to wash them. One participant said that she can't even remember the last time she washed hers. Some had delegated the task of fetching water to their children and were unaware of whether the children washed the containers before adding water.

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.

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: Butunyi Community, Elijah Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Butunyi 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: Less Wasted Time Means Better Academic Performance!

December, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Butunyi 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!

A year ago, the community members in Butunyi waited in long lines for water every day because collecting water from the unprotected spring was time-consuming and labor-intensive.

"Due to [the] large population in our community, we could queue at the water point waiting for our turn to collect water," said 10-year-old Grivin, who we spoke to last year when we first visited the community.

"I wasted [a lot of] time in the morning before going to school and in the evening when I came back home," Grivin continued. "I went to school late, when my fellow pupils had started learning, and that was dragging back my performance at school."

Now that the spring has been protected, fetching water is much easier, which means no one has to wait for their neighbors to finish collecting water anymore.

"Collecting water from this water point is now very fast," Grivin said. "[I] am able to collect water easily very early in the morning before going to school, unlike before [the] protection when I could queue at the water point for hours before collecting water. Actually, I don't waste time for school. [The spring] has given me ample time in school, which has helped me improve in my studies."

The new water point has given Grivin a sense of security that he'd never known before. That, coupled with his improved academic performance, will help him in building his future.

"This water point has helped me have enough time in class and understand what my teachers have [been] teaching me, knowing that when I come back home, there is enough clean and safe water. I have improved in classwork, unlike before," Grivin 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 Butunyi 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 Butunyi 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.


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