Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 250 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/03/2024

Project Features

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In Machemo Community, the young and the old are most affected by their open spring's contaminated water, but all 250 people would benefit from cleaner, safer water.

"Poor sanitation and drinking contaminated water has made me sickly," said Charles, a 13-year-old student (pictured above at the spring). "Most of the time, [I] am out of school. Like today, [I] am having [a] stomachache."

Consuming water from this source has led to illnesses such as gastroenteritis and diarrhea among the community members. During the rainy season, some community members also cough after using the water. They suspect it is because the water becomes dirtier when it rains and soil and fertilizer runoff enter the water, making it cloudy and opaque.

"Water is life, as the saying goes," said local farmer Franklin Mato, 51 (pictured at the spring, below). "But water can also take away life."

"The challenge is that the water is contaminated and my young children are suffering a lot," Franklin continued. "Protecting this spring will save me a lot, both financially and mentally."

The spring is situated on farmland, and is used as a staging area for women when they wash their families' clothing. As such, the area can become slippery from water even as the spring itself grows contaminated from soap, fertilizer, soil, sugarcane and maize trimmings, livestock, wildlife, and anything else that falls into the open water source.

The women of Machemo Community get up very early to fetch drinking water, because that is when the spring appears clearest. But they might go back to the spring five or six times a day for other uses, which leads to overcrowding, and sometimes even conflicts about who should be able to fetch water first.

"I hope soon the problem will be over and I will be healthy and strong again to go back to school," Charles concluded.

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

April, 2022: Machemo Community Spring Protection Complete!

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

Giggles for water.

Franklin Mato said, "My family's state of health will change because all waterborne diseases that we were suffering from will be a thing of the past. This [is] because we will be accessing clean flowing water from the protected spring. [I] am sure I will save the money that I've been using to take my family to the hospital. The money will help me do other things which will earn income for my family."

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

"I will no longer carry dirty water back home because the spring is now protected and clean flowing water is flowing from the spring. I will have enough time to do my homework and even help my siblings to do their homework too," said Noel T.

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

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.

After the construction of the spring, the artisan and the field officers handed over the spring to the community. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day, flowing in all directions.

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 Olivia Bomji and Elvis Afuya deployed to the site to lead the event. Ten people attended the training, including six women and four men. We held the training under shade trees at Mato Talai's homestead.

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.

Learning about handwashing.

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 training has helped me to identify my weakness, especially on general sanitation and hygiene. I have been ignorant, but now I know that maintaining good general hygiene is healthy and it defines a person," said farmer and chairman of the water committee Franklin Mato.

Franklin Mato.

The most memorable topic was hand washing because participants learned they were not washing their hands correctly. They were washing their hands in a hurry and not paying attention to washing all parts of their hands. They were happy to learn the ten steps of handwashing and promised to wash their hands with soap and running water going forward.

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!

March, 2022: Mato Talai Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in the Machemo 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: Improved health and academic performance!

June, 2023

A year ago, your generous donation helped Machemo Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Bernard. 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 5.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Machemo 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!

Bernard A., 11, recalled what life was like in Machemo Community before his community’s spring was protected last year.

"Sincerely, I used to enjoy [the spring]. I would wait [for] when everyone was gone, [then] enter into the pool of water and take [a] shower. It was so satisfying, but in the long run, I could [have] diarrhea and painful stomachaches as a result of consuming the same water," said Bernard.

But life is much safer for Bernard and the other community members in Machemo now.

"Since this spring was protected, I no longer receive painful injections as a result of having diarrhea and stomachaches. [I] am so healthy and energetic to both concentrate [on] my studies and also help my mum with house chores, including fetching water," Bernard said.

Having ready access to water from the spring has made a difference for Bernard, allowing him better health and increased energy.

"I can categorically say that since I started consuming clean water and having access to better sanitation and hygiene standards, my health has improved. I never miss class lessons. Last term, I recorded an improvement in my academic performance, and I was so excited," concluded Bernard.

Thank you for helping Bernard access clean water and experience better health and improved academic performance.

Right now, there are others just like him 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.

Bernard with our field officer Jacklyne.

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 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 Machemo 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.


Twincrest, Inc.
13 individual donor(s)