Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 180 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/09/2024

Project Features

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Any development for the 180 people in Sundulo Community has been put on hold: they spend any money they can get at the hospital on typhoid treatments.

"Drinking water from the spring has affected me because I have been sickly, and this has made me weak," said 38-year-old Lilia Ndoli, shown collecting water from the spring above. "Spending money in the hospital every time is so expensive and this sometimes makes me not to visit the hospital but rather take traditional medicines, which affects me more."

There's a similar theme when it comes to time. Sundulo's people spend most of their money treating water-related illnesses, just as they spend most of their time every day fetching water.

In Sundulo, most people make at least five trips to the spring a day, which is no easy feat. Both the young and the old have trouble accessing Shem Ndoli spring due to the surrounding slippery, swampy area. A number of injuries have been reported, particularly among small children. It is unsafe for them to fetch water even though they would love to help their parents.

The water crisis has also led to quarreling amongst the community members. In the morning, when everyone flocks to the spring, people become impatient with one another. One recurring complaint is that some women use dirty containers to fetch water, which others say is the cause of the high cases of typhoid that have ravaged this community and kept it from flourishing. But without being protected, the water from this open source would cause typhoid even if it were fetched with the cleanest jerrycan on Earth.

Fighting is particularly detrimental to Sundulo because of how the community members live and work together harvesting sugarcane for bulk sale to the nearby sugarcane factory. Without harmony amongst the people, their very livelihood is at stake. But when all their loved ones are sick with typhoid, people can hardly be blamed for having short tempers.

8-year-old Shaleen's mother has obviously taken care to lecture her daughter about only fetching the cleanest water in hopes that water fetched with care will no longer make their family members sick. But Shaleen (pictured below)knows it's useless.

"Fetching dirty water has been a habit because using a scooping jug to fill water in the container is not easy," Shaleen said. "My hand gets tired sometimes and I find myself not putting much effort to get clean water because I know that the situation will always be the same. Nothing changes."

It's difficult to hear an 8-year-old girl sounding so hopeless when she has a whole life ahead of her. But a protected spring will stop her and her family from being sick all the time, which will open up a whole new world of possibility and hope.

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

June, 2022: Sundulo Community Spring Protection Complete!

Sundulo Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Shem Ndoli 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.

Lilia when we first visited her community versus now!

Housewife Lilia Ndoli felt stuck in Sundulo before. But since the spring has been protected, that is changing.

"For a long time, our community has been neglected in terms of development," Lilia said, but finally we are happy that at least we have something to be proud of: our protected spring."

Lilia waits for her jerrycan to fill.

"Access to a reliable clean and safe water source will eradicate water-related illness in our community, which in turn will improve our health and well-being. There will be no more queueing at the spring since fetching water is faster than before the spring was protected."

"As a result, I will have more time to engage in income-generating activities to support my husband in providing for our family's basic needs."

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

Shaleen stands in front of a group of community children.

"My major concerns were accessing water from the unprotected spring and frequent attacks from water-related diseases," said nine-year-old Shaleen. "The spring has now been constructed well and stairs installed for easy access. No more getting sick!"


"I will be able to make several trips to the spring and still get time to study and play with my friends," Shaleen concluded. "Thank you for making it possible for us to access safe drinking water. God bless you all."

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 help to carry bricks and stones.

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.

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 our field officers to fetch 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 to relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

When the day arrived, facilitators Christine Masinde and David Machanja deployed to the site to lead the event. We expected 20 participants, but 26 people showed up, excluding children! They all wanted to get firsthand information and they were ready to share the acquired knowledge with their peers after the training.

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.

"This training is very invaluable to me and my community as a whole," said Samuel Chiluka, a farmer and the chairman of the new water user committee.

Samuel brushes his teeth at the training.

"With proper practice of what has been taught, we will eliminate attacks from diseases related to hygiene and water like malaria, trachoma, typhoid, stomachache, and diarrhea, among others."

Samuel also remarked on the soap-making portion of the training. "[The] soap-making lesson was important too because, with clean water from the spring and soap, we are assured of keeping ourselves and the environment clean, which will improve our mental health and also self-esteem."

Curious participants watch the soap-making process.

Handwashing was one of the most-discussed topics of the day. One of the participants stated that she now understands why, when everyone in the community was washing their hands frequently with soap and clean water during the COVID-19 pandemic, cases of diarrhea and colds were reduced. She reported that since handwashing is no longer being exercised as diligently, such illnesses have increased again. She then encouraged other participants and the community at large to wash their hands frequently and properly to lead a healthy life and increase productivity in their community.

Another notable topic was when we taught community members how to maintain their new spring so as to maintain the quality and quantity of water from the spring and promote its sustainability. They promised to punish anyone who acted against the established rules and regulations. They also put in place a duty roster for each household to clean the spring.

Facilitator Christine explains how to care for the spring.

This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our partners, 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 our field officers to assist them.

Community members bring materials to the construction site.

Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program. We have an ongoing commitment to walk with each community, cooperatively problem-solving when they face challenges of any kind: with functionality, seasonality, or water quality. With all these components together, we strive to ensure 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.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

April, 2022: Sundulo Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Sundulo 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: "Fetching Water is Now Easy!"

June, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Sundulo 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!

Thirty-two-year-old farmer Jennifer Luvembe recalled what life was like in Sundulo Community before her community's spring was protected last year.

"We could find the water is dirty. Once one person fetched water, it got dirty due to [the] rising of sand. The pond also attracted insects to float on [the] water," Jennifer said.

But life is enriched for Jennifer and the other community members in Sundulo Community now.

"Fetching water is now easy, and the water is very clean. After construction, they brought chlorine that has enabled us to have clean water for drinking. The water point is accessed from both sides, which has also helped on [the] interference of [the] spring box," she continued.

Having ready access to water from the spring has made a difference for Jennifer, allowing her to have clean water and motivating her to use safer water practices.

"The water point is clean [which] also motivates us to ensure we carry water in clean containers whether for drinking or any other activity," Jennifer concluded.

Thank you for helping Jennifer access clean water and keep their spring safe.

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.

Jennifer Luvembe.

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 Sundulo 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 Sundulo 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.


Project Underwriter - 2021 Holiday Matching Gifts
1 individual donor(s)