Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 210 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Dec 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/04/2024

Project Features

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The Mwituwa area is a steep, sloping land. Most roads in the area are muddy during rainy seasons or, like at the time of writing, dusty during the dry seasons. Most houses in this community are semi-permanent, made of mud walls and iron sheet roofs. The landscape is vegetated as most community members are farmers who grow their crops on a small-scale basis. This community is unique in how they compile their harvested bananas to sell together in the market. They are also identified by their self-help groups that meet at least twice per month.

210 people in Mwituwa depend on unprotected Onyango Spring for water. The spring is located on a steep slope which attracts surface runoff when it rains, bringing with it eroded soil, farm chemicals, and animal waste into the spring water. Even without rains, the constantly flowing water carries with it soil and sand from the ground. This drives time wastage when fetching water since most of the time. The community members need to first clear the spring for the water to start flowing through the improvised discharge pipe they lodged directly into the earth.

Overnight and throughout the day, soil and other debris build up in the pipe. When community members clear the pipe, the water runs dirty for some time until it has settled enough to fetch it. Because of this, most community members have to wake up very early to get to the spring and clear it in time to fetch clean water to start their days. In the evening, everyone returns to the spring for the same reason.

Having to fetch water around a schedule of clearing the spring of mud creates long lines at the same times each day, delaying daily routines. On weekends and holidays, the lines get longer. For women, wasting time at the spring means losing time for farm work, meal preparation, and household chores. For children, having to fetch water each morning means arriving at school late after waiting in line for so long.

"Over the weekends, it's tough for us getting clean water from this spring. The children come to fetch water. Some wash from here and make the water very dirty," said Bibiana Mulongo Oduory, a farmer in the community.

Drinking the contaminated spring water makes community members sick with waterborne and water-related diseases. The most frequently reported illness among families who depend on the spring is diarrhea, which affects young children. When people are sick, they lose more time and energy to spend on productive activities, and families drain their financial resources paying for medical treatment.

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 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 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 which 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 the formation of 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

December, 2021: Onyango Spring Protection Complete!

Mwituwa Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Onyango 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.

"Access to reliable and safe water will help me and my family so much," said Phillis Malenya, a 48-year-old farmer. "From today henceforth, we will [be] drinking safe water, thus we will not spend any coin for treatment of waterborne disease caused by contaminated water as [we did] before protection."

In this photo, Phillis is in the center, in the white shirt.

Phillis has plans to use the spring's water to better her farm. She said: "Now that the water point is complete, I am planning to start vegetable growing at my family farm to generate income from the sale of the crops. Also, my animals will be lucky to drink safe and clean water, which will produce safe milk from water that I will be [fetching] every day from the spring."

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

"Access to reliable and safe water will help me since from today I will not be sick," said 6-year-old Eliya C.

Eliya continued, "My parents thus will not be taking me to [the] hospital anymore due to disease caused by contaminated water. Now that this water point is complete, [I] am planning to help my parents to do irrigation in the farm since the access has been made easy."

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. 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 Joyce Naliaka, Laodia Chebet, and David Mulinge Muthama deployed to the site to lead the event. 15 people attended the training, including six women and nine 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.

Gamaliel Kachi, 25, was inspired by the new knowledge. "The training has created in me a sense of being an ambassador of spreading the message on the lessons I have learned today, especially on the precautions to be taken about this deadly disease."

Gamaliel at the training.

"Most of the community members insist that the disease is only for the white-skinned people, only because it originated from their countries," Gamaliel continued. "However, according to the facilitator, it is not true because the deadly viral disease affects every member of the society regardless of color, gender, race, and age."

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 was of much value to me since from today I will be able to practice what I have learned, especially on hygiene and sanitation," said Evaline Wamakalu, 35. "I have learned the need to clean [my] environment and everything that is of more importance to me and my family. I will also help create awareness to my friends and family about the importance of hygiene and sanitation."

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!

November, 2021: Onyango Spring Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Mwituwa 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: Savings for Storybooks!

December, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Mwituwa Community 4.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mwituwa Community 4 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 we protected the spring in Mwituma last year, community members had to mince their way down a steep slope in order to access the water each day. Community members reported many falls and injuries from fetching water.

"Before the protection of the spring, it was hard for me to access [the] water because it [was such a] slippery slope," said seven-year-old Eliya. "And, also, the water was open to contamination."

With each rainstorm, the spring became flooded with farm chemicals, animal and human waste, and other harmful contaminants. Drinking this water inevitably made community members sick.

But after a year of clean water accessed via stairs, worrying about the dangerous terrain around the spring construction is nothing but a memory for them.

Eliya continued: "Since the protection of the spring, it has been so easy for me to access the water using [the] staircase, and thus [I] save time for me to study and also to assist my mother to fetch water for home chores."

Eliya at the spring.

Along with good health, Eliya can now brag about a growing library at home—funded by his own garden.

"I have been able to plant vegetables at home and sell," Eliya explained. "The money I get from the [sales], I use to buy myself storybooks."

We hope that Eliya enjoys his new adventures in fictional worlds.

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 Mwituwa Community 4 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 Mwituwa Community 4 – 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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