Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 140 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Dec 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/04/2024

Project Features

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The Mushikulu A area has a flat terrain that is green and vegetated due to the community's primary livelihood of farming. Some women in particular also run small businesses like selling fish at the market centers in the evenings. Most homes here are semi-permanent structures.

140 people in Mushikulu A depend on unprotected Wesonga Spring for water. As an open water source, the spring is contaminated and not safe for consumption. Animals come to the spring to drink directly from it, and human activity such as farming also pollutes the water through runoff.

The pooled water has a constant layer of mold and algae which tends to settle below the surface at night. As a result, community members head to the spring as early as possible, even before the sun is up, to fetch the water they will use for drinking that day.

As the sun ascends the sky, the algae start floating to the surface and mixing with the water. At this point, the community can only fetch water for their animals, but it cannot be used either in the kitchen or drinking. Those who have not fetched enough water in the morning cannot do so by evening because the water gets increasingly stirred up and dirty throughout the day from everyone coming to fetch it. Anyone trying to fetch water before dinner either goes home without it or collects the dirtiest water of the day.

Drinking contaminated water leads to waterborne diseases. People here report cases of coughs and stomachaches when they drink the water from this source, in addition to diarrhea and other illnesses. These diseases can be costly to treat, robbing families of their financial resources in addition to their time and energy for other activities.

"If I get clean and safe water, I can add to my days on the earth as I do get sick often while drinking water from here," said Susan Mutondo, a farmer in the village.

The spring is also difficult to access, especially after it rains. The community members step on a log while fetching water, which they placed at the spring's edge to keep them from sliding directly into the mud while fetching water. But the log is always slippery, and many times people have fallen into the water while fetching it. When this happens, people have to wait for hours before the water settles and become safer for fetching again. Children are especially prone to these accidents.

"I have fallen in the water many times when I come collecting water. The piece of timber that we step on is slippery after raining," said Dennis, a young boy in the community.

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 community's female members 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 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 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 forming 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: Wesonga Spring Protection Complete!

Mushikulu A Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Wesonga 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.

"For a long time, we have been drinking dirty water from this water point," said Saidi Wesonga, a local farmer. "Now that [it] is complete, access to clean, safe, and reliable water will enable me to lead a healthy life free from diseases. Leading a healthy life will help save the money that I was frequently using on medication. It will also help me concentrate on my farming activities."

In particular, one community member who was overjoyed with the spring's protection was Mama Susan Wesonga, who owns the land on which the spring flows. She told us that since she got married in that home thirty five years ago, it has been her desire for that waterpoint to be protected.

Mama Susan said she can't believe her hopes and wishes have been fulfilled while she's still alive. She passed her gratitude to everyone who helped her dream come true and said she can die in peace knowing that her grandchildren will now access clean and safe water.

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

Mom shows her baby how to collect water at the new spring.

"I used to avoid fetching water," said Immaculate M. "Every time I was called upon to fetch water, I could get away or have excuses of not wanting to go for water. Now that [the spring] is complete, [I] will help out in fetching water because the water point looks good and access is perfect. This will make my work easier by fetching water on time and dedicating the [rest] of my time to studies."

Immaculate at the spring.

"I want to become a teacher," Immaculate continued. "Leading a healthy life with no sickness will enable me [to] put more effort in my studies to see my dream of becoming a teacher coming to pass."

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.

Diversion channels being dug.

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.

Handing over the spring to the community members.

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 Protus Ekesa, Adelaide Nasimiyu, and Joyce Naliaka deployed to the site to lead the event. 12 people attended the training, including 11 women and one man. We held the training at Mama Susan's house under a shady tree.

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.

"Before this training, we used to put on masks, but leaving the nose out," said 29-year-old Susan Mutondo. "Most of us believed that if we covered our noses we might suffocate and die, but today I have learned that I can breathe and talk while wearing my mask covering both nose and mouth."

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 very valuable to me because I learned many things," said Real Sumba. "One major and important thing I have learned is the Method of SODIS (solar disinfection) in water purification. It is a new method that I have learned today and [I] am going to embrace it. It will save me on fuel and cash. Another thing I have learned is the importance of personal hygiene. When we observe hygiene, we will keep off diseases that come with dirt."

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.

"Before this training, I used to wear a mask only when I boarded a matatu (motor taxi) not to protect myself, but not to be caught with the arm of [the] law," Susan Mutondo continued. "I have learned that I should not wear masks to be seen, but because I want to protect myself and the people I love from the virus."

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: Mushikulu A Community, Wesonga Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Mushikulu 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: Dreams of Teaching!

December, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mushikulu 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!

Collecting water from Wesonga Spring used to be challenging for 11-year-old Abel M.

"Getting water before was very hard, especially when it rained. The place used to be slippery, and most of the time, I used to fall with my jerrycan. It was time-consuming, and [I] used to spend most of my time at the water point," said Abel.

But since the spring's protection last year, things have become much easier.

"Getting water now has been made easier and enjoyable. With the stairs, it's more interesting to go for several trips to get water. During my free time, I clean the spring. This is a hobby I developed after the spring was protected," shared Abel.

"This water has helped me live a healthy life. With this, I have spent most of my time at school, unlike before, when I used to be absent from school due to sickness. This has enabled me [to] perform better in my studies. I believe when I grow up, the dream of becoming a teacher will come to pass," concluded Abel.

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 Mushikulu 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 Mushikulu 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.


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