Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 84 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/04/2024

Project Features

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Matekwa Spring is contaminated and difficult to access, and yet all 84 of Malimali's people use it as their only source of water. As Stephen Matekwa said, if he had any other choice, he would take it.

"Sometimes I wonder where else to get water from, especially after heavy rains," Stephen (in the photo below) said. He is a local farmer and is 22 years old. "The water gets so polluted due to runoff water."

The spring is surrounded by a banana plantation, whose fertilizer often leeches into the water.

It's during the rainy season that people report the highest instances of water-related illnesses, which include typhoid, cholera, and skin rashes, among others. The community members know their health issues are due to the unclean water they drink.

If contamination were the spring's only problem, that would be enough, but its rocky and slippery surroundings have injured many, especially children.

"I once slid and fell in the water source after I lost balance while trying to draw water," said nine-year-old Ann M. (in the picture above). "It's such a tough exercise drawing water from this place for me. The area gets slippery when it rains."

Local wildlife also uses the spring for bathing and drinking, and they find the area difficult to traverse, too. A number of times, community members have found drowned animals, particularly young chickens, in the water. But because there's nowhere else to get water, they are forced to scoop the animals out and fill their containers anyway.

Despite their unfortunate water situation, this community has warm-hearted people who are so welcoming and willing to share whatever little they have. During our visit, they shared with us some sugarcane and groundnuts from their farms. If they were granted a source of clean, safe water, they would be healthier, happier, and doubtless have more to share.

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

November, 2022: Malimali Community Spring Protection Complete!

Malimali Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Matekwa 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 construction of this water point, getting water for my family was a hard task. My wife would have to go to another place in order to get drinking water because she did not think this water was safe for drinking. But immediately after construction, she went and fetched it and drank from it for the first time. Now, I know that my wife will have ease of access to the water. This water has come just at the right time," said 70-year-old Albert Ambani.

Albert collects water to drink.

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

"After school, I had to come with my water containers and queue for water. Sometimes, conflicts would arise because everyone wanted to be first. But I believe now, things will be easier for me and even the rest of the people," said nine-year-old Lillian.

Lillian at the protected spring.

She continued: "Before this water point, some people would come and excrete just near the water point. This was a health risk to all of us. But now, the source is protected, and we know we will now be accessing safe water."

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.

After a prayer of thanksgiving, 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.

Receiving writing materials.

When the day arrived, facilitators Patience and Mildred deployed to the site to lead the event. 12 people attended the training, including seven women and five men. We held the training outside, under some trees.

Learning to make soap.

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.

Training group photo.

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 about spring maintenance.

Participants found the session on water treatment and handling very interesting. The facilitator urged people to ensure their containers are clean, both inside and outside, so that, when water is collected, they can be assured of its cleanliness. Participants admitted they were guilty of using dirty containers to collect and store water but thanked the facilitator for the important message and agreed to use clean containers going forward.


"Most importantly, I learned how to maintain this spring, which I intend to ensure will be followed to the letter. This will help serve many people to come in [the] future," said 60-year-old farmer Jared Matekwa.


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!

September, 2022: Malimali Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Malimali 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: ". . . I don't have any worries about the water."

January, 2024

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Malimali Community 4.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Malimali Community 4 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!

Everlyne Uside, 40, recalled what life was like in the Malimali Community before her community’s spring was protected last year.

“Fetching water from this water point was really a problem. The area had stones which were difficult to stand on when fetching water, and at some point when it's rainy season, they were slippery. These difficulties made me not send my children to fetch water because they could come back home in muddy clothes,” said Everlyne.

“We used to scoop [water] with a jug, and this required one to get to the spring early enough before animals or people made it dirty,” continued Everlyne.

Collecting water is now much faster and safer for Everlyne and the other community members in the Malimali Community.

“Collecting water nowadays is faster and easier. No more overcrowding and quarreling because the water flows well through the discharge pipe to our containers,” said Everlyne.

"The water has really enabled me to have more time and focus on farming activities. [I] am grateful, and I enjoy the work of my hands by having [a] vegetable plantation which I used to spend more time [on] especially [on the] weekend. This enables me to get financial income by selling to the community members, and at some point, I get orders from [the] school to supply vegetables. From the sales, I am able to provide for my family and even pay school fees," Everlyne said.

Having ready access to water from the spring has made a difference for Everlyne, allowing her water that helps provide an income for her family and allows her to improve her hygiene.

"For me, I don't have any worries about the water. [I] am really contented that after protecting the spring, water is safe for human consumption. This can be proven [as] I have not [had] any sickness related to water," Everlyne concluded.

Everlyne watering her garden.

Right now, there are others 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.

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 Malimali Community 4 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 Malimali Community 4 – 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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