Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 182 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/04/2024

Project Features

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For the 182 community members who live in Machemo, finding sufficient water is a daily struggle. The primary water source is a local, unprotected spring that presents several challenges to individuals and the community as a whole.

The spring is open to contamination, surrounded by grass and trees that drop debris into the water. To collect water, individuals must balance each foot on a rock, bend over, and meticulously scoop water into their jug from the small watering hole, hoping not to stir up mud that would cause the water to become cloudy. It is a slow and tedious process requiring the patience of each person waiting in line to collect water.

Rose Shilakwa (shown below), a 45-year-old farmer was brutally honest about the stress that not having access to sufficient water creates. She said, "Personally, I don't have peace with my neighbors. [My neighbor and I] fought and I injured her at the spring [when] she skipped my turn to fetch water. This forced me to pay for her medication. So I request that if possible help us by implementing this spring so that we can have clean and safe water for drinking and also peace with our neighbors."

Rose is not the only community member feeling the stress. Quarrels are common because the queues for water start before the sun has risen. Most women in the community make several trips very early in the morning so they have enough water to make breakfast for their families and to try and do some of their daily chores.

Delays at the spring also affect the children of the community, as shared by Douglas M. (shown below collecting water), age 12. "I fear going to the spring alone because the area around the spring is bushy. But when my parents force me I go, but [it causes] delays [for me] to go to school. [I] am punished every day, which makes me hate school, and [I] have really dropped in my performance."

The people of Machemo are more than ready for their spring to be protected so they can use their energy for more productive tasks and regain their community's sense of unity.

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 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. 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

November, 2022: Machemo Community Spring Protection Complete!

Machemo Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Machikwa 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.

"The conflicts that were at the spring have been solved. We will be fetching water with lots of love," said 46-year-old farmer Rose Shilakwa, who we interviewed before the protection of the spring. When we last spoke to Rose, she was honest about the stress and conflict caused by waiting for water, but thankfully, things have changed now.

She continued: "Now that we have clean and safe water, our drinking water is never going to be compromised. Cases of water-related infections are now going to be a thing of the past."

Rose collecting water.

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

Before the protection of the spring, we also spoke to Douglas, who shared how scary it was for him to collect water. But now things are now not as scary for him, and he feels the freedom to collect water whenever he needs it.

"The areas around the spring were cleared during construction, and the fear I had has gone. Now I can go to the spring as many times as possible," said Douglas M.


He continued: "The water point has helped me because I don't waste time [at] the spring, and this has made me get to school early. My performance in exams will improve as I now enjoy ample time studying."

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.

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 Rose and Mary deployed to the site to lead the event. 14 women attended the training held at the homestead of a community member.

Training participants.

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.

Learning to make soap.

Operation and maintenance was an informative session where the facilitator emphasized the importance of keeping the water point in good working condition for its sustainability. During the discussion time, community members asked about the reason The Water Project uses local construction materials to build each project, and the facilitator responded that it allows each community to feel like they're part of the project, which enhances their sense of ownership.

"This training has been timely. I have learned three very important things: how to wash hands, soap-making, and environmental hygiene. From today, [I] am going to practice all these skills to better my health and life," said 55-year-old chairman of the water user committee, Rose Okwili.



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: Machemo Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Machemo Spring 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: Improved Health and A Brighter Future!

February, 2024

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Machemo Community 7.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Machemo Community 7 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!

Farmer Rose Wekhau, 39, recalled what life was like in the Machemo Community before her community's spring was protected last year.

"To get water from this water point was so hard because it forced us to carry a jug so that you [could bend] and scoop water, making it more tiresome," said Rose.

Collecting water is now much less physically demanding for Rose and the other community members in Machemo.

"The best thing about living with clean water is that one is sure of having a healthy life free from waterborne diseases. My health has changed since I had been experiencing backaches each and every time I fetched water before the project was implemented, but now [I] am happy I don't strain so much since [the] fetching of water is easier and faster," continued Rose.

Having ready access to water from the spring has made a difference for Rose, allowing her time and energy to put the new water source to good use.

"Thus, water has helped me start a small vegetable garden that provides vegetables for my consumption while at home, and also I have managed to rear a dairy cow which provides milk that I sell to my neighbours and get some cash. My dreams for the future involve projects like [more] animal farming. I believe access to water will make it easier. I am sure my animals will have enough water for drinking," concluded Rose.

Right now, others in neighboring communities 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.

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 Machemo Community 7 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 Machemo Community 7 – 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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