Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 147 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/09/2024

Project Features

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Field Officer Jacklyne Chelegat felt a great deal of sympathy when she witnessed the condition of Peter Shakava Spring. The 147 community members of Chombeli rely on the unprotected spring as their primary water source.

"Having a look at the dirty water in this unprotected spring pains [me] a lot," Jacklyne said. "As an ambassador of change, [I believe the] protection of this spring will be the best solution [for these people] to access clean and safe water."

The spring is small and wide open to dirt and contamination from people, animals, and the surrounding maize and sugarcane plantations. Individuals allow the water to settle after the last user before they collect, otherwise, it will be entirely muddy and unusable. This is a tiring and tedious process.

Jacklyne, who has been with The Water Project since 2014, is painfully aware that dirty water leads to ill health and high medical expenses, causing people to lose valuable resources and hopeful futures. She said, "Having conducted the survey after it had rained, the waters were so dirty. At a glance of it, I got scared."

When people have access to clean water, they are healthier and can maintain more of their income, rather than wasting it on medical treatments (WHO Africa).

Farmer Diana Shakava (shown above), 58, shared how relying on the contaminated water from the community spring has caused her to lose both her health and her finances. "Fetching dirty water from this spring is quite devastating. Going to the hospital has been a norm and it really exhausts my finances."

There have been many reported cases of typhoid and diarrhea in the community, and the adults are not the only ones suffering.

"Fetching water in this unprotected spring has been so troubling. I frequently become sick and this has made me not go to school," said 12-year-old Brian L. (shown above).

Children are more susceptible to water-related diseases. Clean water keeps them healthier allowing them to attend school and enabling brighter futures (WHO Africa).

Alternatively, the only other water source for those living in Chombeli is collecting rainwater during the rainy season. Sadly, many of the community's members live in grass-thatched houses and are at a distinct disadvantage since they only have the contaminated spring to rely on.

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: Chombeli Community Spring Protection Complete!

Chombeli Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Peter Shakava 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.

"[I] am one happy grandmother. Access to clean and safe water will increase my lifespan. Despite being old, [I] am sure [I] am going to be of great assistance to my loving husband and my grandchildren," said Diana Shakava, 58. "I had given up going to the spring since I considered it dangerous but now with the stairs, I can comfortably access the water point just as I did when I was a young girl."

Diana at the spring.

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

"Clean and safe water will reduce the risks of contracting waterborne diseases. This will guarantee me good health and better academic performance as I will not miss any class lessons," said Mercy M., 12.

Mercy getting a drink.

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.

Measuring the site for excavation.

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.

Laying foundation.

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.

Brickwork on the walls.

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.

Setting the discharge pipe.

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.

Creating the rub walls.

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.

Plastering the walls.

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.

Laying tiles into 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.

Placing stones in the reservoir box.

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.

Backfilling the reservoir box.

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.

Community members transplanting grass.

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.

Completed spring.

We officially handed over the spring to mark the community's ownership of the water point on this long-awaited day. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day, flowing in all directions. People gathered around the spring and the Water User Committee officials gave brief speeches thanking every participant for the role they played in ensuring that the project was successful.

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 Victor Misemi and Jacklyne Chelagat deployed to the site to lead the event. 23 people attended the training, including nine women and 14 men. We held the training at Benjamin Shakava's home adjacent to the spring site. He is the son of Peter Shakava, the spring's namesake.

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.

Handwashing using a tippy tap.

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.

Elected Water User Committee members.

Soap-making was a favorite session during the training. Participants were excited to continue making soap at home to sell for extra income and promised to pass the skills and knowledge on to the younger generation.

Soap-making session.

Farmer Titus Mutanyi, 52, said, "The training was full of new things which I never knew about. I have acquired enough skills and knowledge that will help me access better health care, boost my living standards and that of my family, and adopt proper sanitation standards."

Men at the spring.

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!

May, 2022: Chombeli Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage Chombeli 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 anytime it is needed!

May, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Chombeli Community 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!

50-year-old farmer Annet Murunga recalled what life was like in Chombeli before her community’s spring was protected last year.

"This was an open source where we fetched water using bowls or containers. We had dug something like a hole where it acted as [the] fetching area," said Annet.

But water collection is much simpler for Annet and the other community members in Chombeli now.

"This water has made my stay here more enjoyable. I am the second nearest person to the spring. Despite that, before construction, I could use as much time to get water like [the] people from a distance. The spring has been constructed well, and access [has been] made easy," Annet said.

Having ready access to water from the protected spring has made a difference for Annet, allowing her to collect water quickly whenever she needs it.

"I can say I have used a lot of time to engage in other activities such as farming. I plan myself to engage in activities that offer daily bread. [I] come to fetch water at any time because I know it [is] there, and nobody has the capacity or capability to contaminate or make it dirty because it is protected," Annet concluded.

Thank you for helping Annet access clean water and giving her the confidence to not worry about the water's contamination any longer.

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.

Annet collecting water from the protected spring.

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 Chombeli Community 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 Chombeli Community – 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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