Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 320 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/02/2024

Project Features

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The area around Francis Okumu Spring is green and well-vegetated, surrounded by sugarcane and maize farms that are the income source to support the community's families.

The community of 320 people relies on this open, contaminated spring as their only water source. Some families make up to 7 trips a day to collect enough water to meet their daily needs.

To collect water, community members must travel down a steep, narrow pathway that can be difficult to navigate on the return trip with full water containers, especially during the rainy season when the area around the spring becomes very slippery, making it even more challenging to access and leading to physical injuries from falling.

Once they reach the small pool of water, they must use a scooping jug to pour water into collection containers because it is shallow and covered with a layer of algae. This is a time-consuming task, especially when there is a line and people become impatient with one another.

"Fetching water using [the] scooping jug is not easy. I personally get tired lifting the jug uncountable times a day. Protecting the spring will keep us safe, and we will no longer waste time rather fetch water directly from the pipe. It will prevent injuries, especially to the young children," shared Diana O., age 12.

Because the water source is open to contamination, community members suffer from sicknesses such as typhoid and diarrhea due to drinking the water. Children and adults alike develop skin rashes unless they boil the water before drinking.

Mrs. Risper Okumu, a 55-year-old community member, shared, "Contamination of water at the spring has made our children and families to suffer from skin rashes and water-related diseases. Protecting the spring will guarantee many families in this community good health and good access to the water point."

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: Lunyinya Community Spring Protection Complete!

Lunyinya Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Francis Okumu 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.

"Before the implementation of this project, the water was open to contamination," said Rispah Nanzala, 42.

"I would frequent the hospital with episodes of diarrhea. Also, I would always find people scrambling around for water. But now, I believe that there will be no more scrambling and quarreling because in a minute people will have filled their containers and [been] ready to go back to their homes. I believe also that, having safe water will greatly reduce the visits to [the] hospital and help save the money that can be used in other ventures."

Rispah pours water at the protected spring.

"I intend to use this water for sanitation purposes to ensure that I maintain high standards of cleanliness both personally and even around me with my family, too," Rispah continued. "I hope that I can also start on the kitchen garden that I have been desiring to have around the compound."

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

"Before the installation of the water point, we would have to make long queues and fetch water for very long periods of time," said 10-year-old Ruth O. "As a result, disputes would arise among people. Also, a few times I have had to be treated for typhoid and even amoeba because of the contamination of the water."

Ruth fills a glass.

"But I believe having access to safe and reliable water will help reduce [the] chances of conflicts among members because they will now spend very little time at the water point. Also, I believe now that [the water] is safe for consumption, I won't have to worry about getting sick from drinking the water again."

Ruth and Rispah, in the purple dresses, smile amongst other community members.

"Before construction, I would sometimes have to put on my uniform up to three days before I wash and skip at least a day before I shower due to the long queue at the water point," Ruth said. "Now, I know I will be able to access water as often as I want, therefore that means I will be able to carry out cleaning activities without any hassle."

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 members bring stones to the construction site.

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.

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.


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.

Stones awaiting their cement outline.

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.

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.

Placing the tiles.

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.

Artisans fit stones together in the spring box.

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 get ready to help cover the spring box with soil.

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.

Grass planting.

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.

Community members carry full jerrycans home.

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 Patience, Rose, and David deployed to the site to lead the event.

The training group poses with their notebooks.

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.

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.

The most memorable topic in Lunyinya was teenage pregnancy, which has been a problem in this community. When we asked parents how they discuss this topic with their children, they responded that in the past they have threatened their teenage girls to not have sex and chased them out of their homes when they did fall pregnant.

After long discussions among participants and the facilitators, it was agreed that the best way to handle the situation in the future would be to talk to their children with love. In the case of pregnancy, girls should be forgiven and treated with love.

Ruth assists the facilitator, Patience, with her handwashing demonstration.

Another topic that caused quite a stir (pun unintended) was soap-making. All the ladies were excited to learn this new skill. They took turns stirring the mixture while singing happy songs and thanked the facilitators for teaching them.

"Before this training, there were some things I would do which, apparently, are not really good," said Ruth. "But now, I have added to the knowledge I already had and learned new things about sanitation and hygiene practices, which I believe will help me change how I did some things, like handwashing and dental hygiene, among others. Soap-making skills will help my family reduce the cost of buying 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!

April, 2022: Lunyinya Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Lunyinya 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: Safe Water for All!

June, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Lunyinya Community 5.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Lunyinya Community 5 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!

Ruth O., 13, recalled what life was like in the Lunyinya Community before her community’s spring was protected.

"It was difficult because this water point served a larger number of people, making it overcrowded. This increased contamination because some people came with dirty containers to fetch water," Ruth stated.

But life is much more advantageous for Ruth and the other community members in the Lunyinya Community now.

"Work is now easier because water is now in plenty [supply] and [the] time taken when fetching water is reduced, thus reducing quarrels at home with my parents because of staying out late," she continued.

Having ready access to water from the protected spring has made a difference for Ruth, allowing her to prioritize her time to focus on school and enjoy time with friends.

"The water point has helped me get more time to study, and hence I have improved in my studies. Also, now I get enough time to rest and also time for playing with my friends," Ruth said.

Thank you for helping Ruth access clean water and giving back her time that was once spent waiting for contaminated water.

Right now, there are others just like her 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.

Ruth carrying 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 Lunyinya Community 5 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 Lunyinya Community 5 – 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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