Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 350 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/07/2024

Project Features

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Looking at Saidi Spring now, you might think it provides safe water to the 350 people of Namanja. But unfortunately, the walls and discharge pipe have only made water faster to collect. The water itself is still contaminated due to the construction's poor workmanship.

When we first vetted Namanja Community's suitability for water intervention, their spring was not protected. Since then, a politician vying for the votes of the community members hired contractors to "protect" Saidi Spring. As soon as our field officers saw the work, however, they knew the project was not sustainable - and that's hardly the project's only issue.

The spring was not protected at the correct location, which would have been the spring's eye, where the water filters up from beneath the ground's surface. Instead, the water source is open to animal, human, and environmental contamination.

Although large stones have been added behind the discharge pipes in an effort to filter the water, this measure alone does very little. The spring box (the area behind the pipes' wall) must include several carefully placed layers of rock, tarp, soil, and grass. It must also be fenced to prevent anyone from walking on the layers and compacting them over time.

Even though the project was only constructed a few months ago (as of September 2022), the walls and floor of the spring have already begun to show signs of wear, which suggests the workers may not have used waterproof cement. This means that soon, the people of Namanja will be back to square one without our help. For them, square one means an endless stream of water-related illnesses.

"I have for a long period of time made a hospital in my home," said 52-year-old farmer Saidi Namanja (pictured above at the spring).

"Diarrhea and typhoid are very troublesome, and if they are not well addressed, they tend to reoccur. [I] am a troubled man because I do not know when I will completely be safe from these diseases. The [most] recent occurrence scared me a lot. I was afraid that I might die, and yet I haven't settled my two wives and many children."

For young people in Namanja, this steep toll on their health makes them less hopeful about their futures.

"I want to become [a] doctor when I grow up," said 13-year-old Alex S. "I [am] worried [about] whether I can achieve [it]. I have been unable to attend class lessons due to sickness and being hospitalized due to diarrhea or typhoid diseases."

Namanja's people need a sustainable, well-made project in their community to protect them from the debilitating illnesses that have dogged their every step.

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

January, 2023: Saidi Spring Protection Project Complete!

Namanja Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Saidi 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.

"Access to clean, safe water allows people [to] live a healthy life," said farmer Olivia Likundu. "[The] protection of this water point has guaranteed us clean water. From today, I will live a healthy life free from water-related diseases."

Olivia carries a jerrycan full of water from the new spring.

"Being free from diseases related to water, I will be able to put more energy into my business, [and] thus improve my income," Olivia continued. "[With the] accessibility being fast, I will be able to have enough water to carry out cleanliness in my home, thus [our] hygiene standards will greatly improve."

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

"[With] water being safe and reliable, I will have clean water for drinking," said 13-year-old David M. "This will not compromise my health. [The] discharge [rate has also] improved, [so] water collection is now fast compared to back then. Cases of congestion, especially during the drought season, will now be a thing of the past."

David at the spring.

"Much time was wasted fetching water at the spring, especially during the drought season," David continued. "This made me not have ample time to rest, play, and work on my school assignments in time. Water being easily accessed at any time of the day will allow me [to] plan for the day without any challenges."

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 their local 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. The community members invited our field officers into their homes.

"Together, we shared a meal," said our field officer, Sam. "Later, the area village elder closed with a word of prayer, thanking God for the gift of clean safe water."

Training on Health, Hygiene, 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 and relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

When the day arrived, facilitators Sam and Victor deployed to the site to lead the event. Mr. Saidi, the owner of the land on which the spring sits, helped us in gathering everyone.

"While walking [to] every household, he also encouraged children to be part of the training, telling them that they are the future generation and that future depends on them," said field officer, Sam.

18 people attended the training, including 13 women and five men. We held the training under some shade trees in a community member's yard.

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.

David (quoted earlier) holds a bowl for Elizabeth (quoted below) to wash her hands in.

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.

Elizabeth at the spring.

"Hygiene and sanitation [are] key in [the] sustainability of a community," said farmer Elizabeth Saidi. "Hygiene, when observed, allows community members [to] live a healthy life. Today, we have been enhanced accordingly by our facilitators. [The] information obtained will be positively effected for a healthy generation in the years to come."

Mr. Saidi speaks at the training.

Landowner Mr. Saidi also offered to take the lead when it comes to maintaining the spring, which we held a training session on so everyone could learn the spring's components and their functions. The other community members were happy to nominate Mr. Saidi as the one to keep the spring in good shape.


This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our in-country teams, and the community members themselves. 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 their local field officers to assist them.

Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our monitoring and maintenance program. We walk with each community, problem-solving together when they face challenges with functionality, seasonality, or water quality. Together, all these components help us strive for enduring access to reliable, clean, and safe water for this community.

With your contribution, one more piece has been added to a large puzzle of water projects. In our target areas, we’re working toward complete coverage of reliable, maintained water sources within a 30-minute round trip for each community, household, school, and health center. With this in mind, search through our upcoming projects to see which community you can help next!

Thank you for making all of this possible!

October, 2022: Namanja Community Spring Protection Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Namanja 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 Within Sight!

April, 2024

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Namanja Community 2.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Namanja Community 2 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!

Jacob Saidi, 53, recalled what life was like in the Namanja Community before her community's spring was protected last year.

"The major problem was drinking contaminated water, which could affect our health because water was exposed to disease-causing microorganisms. We used [to] spend a lot of our resources seeking medication [for] waterborne and water-related ailments. Besides that, we used to waste much of our time [at the] waterpoint during dry spells. It was very hectic and time-consuming. [The] water drawn was not clean as sometimes we used to collect water from a pool of water using a bowl. So any time rain stopped, water in the spring also reduced because of poor workmanship and little know-how on spring construction," Jacob shared.

Collecting water is now less concerning for Jacob and the other community members in Namanja.

Jacob at the spring.

When Jacob was asked what had improved since the spring's protection, he was eager to share his own personal improvements! "Currently, [I] am not prone to waterborne diseases as before because [I] am accessing safe, clean water. The implementation of this waterpoint made me concentrate on agricultural activities, as I don't waste my resources seeking treatment for waterborne ailments as before. During short rains (the dry season), [I] managed to plant some cassava stems and bananas using water from the constructed waterpoint."

Having ready access to water from the spring has made a difference for Jacob, allowing him to focus on his livelihood. He now has the chance to grow his farm and his dreams!

Jacob in his fields.

"The water point has helped me greatly engage [in] agricultural activities. I have a number of cattle which get drinking water from the waterpoint. Besides that, the waterpoint helped me [during] short rains [to] get water for planting plants like cassava, vegetables, and even bananas. My dream is to do major agribusiness on my land, and it is very achievable with [a] reliable water source like this one of ours," Jacob concluded.

Jacob inspects the fruits of his labor.

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 Namanja Community 2 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 Namanja Community 2 – 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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