Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 240 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/05/2024

Project Features

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You would think that, after it rains at Muhoni community, it would be the best time to fetch water from its local spring. All that freshwater should rejuvenate the spring and ensure there's plenty of water for everyone. Right?

But according to Ann, a 61-year-old retired schoolteacher who lives in Muhoni, this is not the case. "When it rains, we can't fetch water because the water becomes dirty," she said. "So we wait until the following day so that we can get water."

So the villagers will go thirsty for a day because the spring water becomes filled with sediment from the bottom of the spring, meaning they, their children, and their livestock may become dehydrated. And all the chores involving water: cooking, cleaning, laundry, and gardening will be paused. Considering that the main sources of income in this community are from growing maize and raising livestock, the disruption in water supply makes life harder for everyone.

The spring is deep in the surrounding Malava rainforest, lined with trees and bushes. Because of its remote location, people come from far and wide to fetch water here - some 240 of them.

"When I come from school, I find a large crowd at the spring, which makes me do my homework late at night because of the time wasted waiting for my turn to draw water," said Doricas, a 17-year-old student.

After visiting Muhoni village, I can say, the environment around the spring is pathetic. When community members come and draw water, some step inside the spring. The spring area becomes muddy and slippery when it rains. Also, they use unclean containers, which makes some of them become sick of typhoid.

With the price of living going up everywhere, especially now due to COVID-19, community members here cannot afford proper medication to treat waterborne diseases. Some have to go without medication at all.

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

May, 2022: Muhoni Community Spring Protection Complete!

Muhoni Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Kekongo Forest Spring into a flowing source of naturally filtered water thanks to your donation. Our team also trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices. Together, these components will unlock the opportunity for community members to live better, healthier lives.

Community member drinking water.

Farmer Frances Andoli said, "[I] am very happy to see water flowing from the pipe. It has been a long wait coupled with suffering because this spring was open to contamination. However, now the protected spring will reduce cases of typhoid in this community, as it came at a time when the prevalence of typhoid was too much."

Frances Andoli.

Children were just as excited as adults about the new waterpoint.

"It is easier now to access water from the protected spring because [there will be] no more immersing the container in water. The water takes [a] few seconds to fill the 20-liter container. I will make sure I use water to wash my beddings and also use water to bathe. Also, I will not waste time at the spring, as has been the case previously," said Caleb O., 16.

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 material-collection process can take anywhere from a few weeks to months.

Community engagement.

When the community was ready, we sent a lorry to deliver the remaining construction materials, including cement, plastic tarps, and hardware. Then, our construction 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 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 runoff diversion channels above and around the spring. These help to divert surface contaminants away.

Clearing the area.

To ensure community members could still access water throughout the construction process, we also dug temporary channels from the spring's eye around the construction site. This allowed water to flow without disrupting community members' tasks or the construction work.

Laying the foundation.

Excavation created space for setting the spring's foundation, made of thick plastic tarp, wire mesh, concrete, and waterproof cement. After establishing the base, we started brickwork to build the headwall, wing walls, and stairs.


Once the walls had grown tall enough, we began one of the most crucial steps: setting the discharge pipe. The discharge pipe needs to be positioned low enough in the headwall so the water level never rises above the spring's eye, yet high enough to allow room for the average jerrycan (a 20-liter container) to sit beneath the pipe without making contact.

Setting the discharge pipe.

If we place the discharge pipe too high above the spring's eye, backpressure could force water 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 stones on both sides of the spring's drainage channel. We then cemented and plastered each stone, forming the rub walls. These walls discourage people and animals from standing in that area, which could cause soil erosion and a clogged drainage area.


We then cemented and plastered 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.

Installing tile under the discharge pipe.

As the headwall and wing walls cured, 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.

The final stage of construction is backfilling the reservoir box behind the discharge pipe. We cleared the collection box of any debris that may have fallen during construction. 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 water through the discharge pipe only.

Backfilling the reservoir box with stones.

We filled up the reservoir area with the large, clean stones community members had gathered, arranging them in layers like a well-fitting puzzle. We covered the rocks with a thick plastic tarp to minimize potential contamination sources, then piled enough dirt on top to compensate for future settling.

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. Compaction can lead to disturbances in the backfill layers and potentially compromise water quality.

Transplanting grass.

The entire construction process took about two weeks of work and patience to allow the cement and plaster to finish curing. As soon as the spring 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. Several local dignitaries attended the dedication ceremony, including the ward administrator, representatives from the Community Council of Elders and the Water and Environmental Office, and the supervisor of the Forestry Office. They expressed their thanks and gave God honor and glory for remembering them.

Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19, and More

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 Mary Afandi and Christine Luvandwa deployed to the site to lead the event. 21 people attended the training, including ten women and 11 men. We held the training within the forest, under some trees.

Handing out training materials.

We covered several topics, including community participation in the project, leadership and governance, personal and environmental hygiene, water handling and treatment, spring maintenance, dental hygiene, the ten steps of handwashing, disease prevention, and how to make and use handwashing stations.

Soap-making session.

During the leadership and governance session, we held an election for the newly formed water user committee leaders, who will oversee the maintenance of the spring. We also brainstormed income-generating activities. Community members can now start a group savings account for any future minor repairs to the spring and a cooperative lending group, enabling them to develop small businesses.

Participants were taught how to take care of their teeth and handle toothbrushes. The trainers shared with participants how to make use of locally available materials like salt and soft sticks for brushing since most cannot afford toothpaste and toothbrushes.

Dental hygiene session.

62-year-old Anne Lichuma, a retired teacher and the water committee chairperson, shared, "The training was valuable to me because I have been taught how to make soap and where I can get the reagents. I will use the knowledge to make quality soap to use in my house and also sell at the market so that l can earn additional income."


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!

March, 2022: Kekongo Forest Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Muhoni 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: "Good health is my portion."

May, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Muhoni 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!

Peter M., 17, recalled what life was like in Muhoni before his community’s spring was protected last year.

"Accessing water in this spring was so frustrating. It was too tiring, and a lot of time was wasted," said Peter.

But life is much more enjoyable for Peter and the other community members in Muhoni now.

"I enjoy coming to fetch water. It's so easy. I get excited to come and drink water direct from the source. It's so clean," said Peter.

Having ready access to water from the protected spring has made a difference for Peter, allowing him to experience better health.

"My health standards have been improved greatly. The previous water-related diseases that were affecting me [are] now [in] the past. Good health is my portion. [I] am [a] happy and excited boy," Peter said. "I can confidently sit down and develop my short, mid-term, and long-term academic goals."

Thank you for helping Peter access clean water and for helping him have good health and time to dream about the future.

Right now, there are others just like him in neighboring communities that desperately need safe water access. Your support will immediately go to work to provide a clean water project - and we can’t wait to introduce you to the next person you’ll help.

Peter collecting water from the protected 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 Muhoni 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 Muhoni 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.


Project Sponsor - SJR