Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 280 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 09/14/2023

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

Shivakala community in Western Kenya is home to Mukangu Spring, which serves 280 people daily. The spring area is green with vegetation, including bananas and a landscape that gradually slants toward the water point.

As you move downstream, some places become very steep and hard to navigate on foot. Downstream, one can also spot a fish pond that benefits from the runoff water from the spring.

The majority of community members are small-scale farmers who plant vegetables for sale. Some chose to be water entrepreneurs (collect, carry and sell water) because of the high water demand, especially in nearby rental units.

The area is periurban, on the outskirts of Kakamega town. Thus, the population is very high because of its cosmopolitan nature. The town immigrants are slowly overpopulating the original community members, and the land prices are steadily spiking as people look for places to farm or build rental houses.

The main water source is difficult to access because the entrance is steep, and you must wade into the water to use the improvised discharge pipe. The situation gets more dangerous during wet seasons, with common reports of people skidding and falling with water containers.

"It's very hard to fetch water from here because of the lack of a friendly access point. There is no staircase to use, and we do slide while carrying water home," said farmer Florence Ominde.

"We fear getting hurt by objects inside the pool of water that we pass through before we fetch water. Most of us come to the spring barefoot, and thus we are most vulnerable," said Jared O., 13.

The water is not safe for drinking since it's open to all sorts of contamination, ranging from stormwater runoff to human/animal interference. People complain of stomachaches, especially when nearby water points go dry and this water point becomes more crowded. Pollution is inevitable.

Overcrowding is also a problem as there is great demand for water from community members and the nearby school that accesses this water point. People wake up early to collect water for their drinking and domestic needs and often have to make up to 5 trips to ensure they have enough water for the day.

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

May, 2022: Shivakala Community Spring Protection Complete!

Shivakala Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Mukangu 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.

Children celebrating at the spring!

Farmer Susan Khavesta, 53, said, "Initially, I used to spend a lot of money going to the hospital for treatment of typhoid because of the water that we used to drink since the water point was not protected as it is now."


She continued, "[The water] will help me to carry out farming activities. For example, during the dry season, I will be able to water my crops since I will be accessing water easily and faster and be able to generate income to avoid being dependent."

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

"Water is a basic human need and is also essential in [the] daily running of various activities in a homestead. Accessibility to clean, safe water will allow reduced cases of water-related diseases in this community. Sufficient water in this community will greatly improve the hygiene and sanitation standards in my home," said Veronica.

Veronica, age 10.

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.

Clearing the land.

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.

Laying the foundation.

Once the walls had grown tall enough, we began one of the most crucial steps: setting the discharge pipes. Because of this spring's tremendous output, we installed three discharge pipes. The discharge pipes need 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 pipes without making contact.

Starting brickwork.

If we place the discharge pipes 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 pipes using clay and placed them at an incline to ensure water flows in the right direction.

Three discharge pipes.

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.

Building the rub wall.

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 pipes.


As the headwall and wing walls cured, we cemented and plastered the stairs and installed four tiles beneath the discharge pipes. The tiles protect the concrete from the falling water's erosive force while beautifying the spring and facilitating easy cleaning of the spring floor.

Installing tiles.

The final stage of construction is backfilling the reservoir box behind the discharge pipes. 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 pipes only.

Backfilling 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.

Community members transplanting grass.

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 completed spring.

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, we officially handed it over with a prayer to mark the community's ownership, and people got the okay from our field officers to fetch water.

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 Amos, Olivia, and Beverlyne deployed to the site to lead the event. 24 people attended the training, including 22 women and two men. We held the training at a community member's homestead under a shade tree.

Learning about masks.

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.

Practicing hand washing.

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. The participants were excited to take part in a free and fair election process deciding on the leaders who would represent the community.

Dental hygiene training.

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.

Soap-making session.

"It has helped me gain knowledge about handwashing through the ten steps, [of] which I was not aware. Soap making is also something new I have learned and it will help improve my hygiene standards as I will be able to process soap on my own," said Susan Khavesta.

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: Mukangu Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Shivakala 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.

A Year Later: Time to Learn New Skills!

May, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shivakala 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!

Before we protected the spring in Shivakala, the water was both difficult to collect and open to contamination. People spent a long time standing in line because filling a container took so long - then, once they got the water home, it would often make them sick.

"I could waste most of my time queuing at the water point, denying me time to get back home on time so as to be able to help my guardian with house chores," said 13-year-old Blessing A.

"We could line up for a long time, and this could cause conflicts amongst ourselves," said farmer Alex Lihanda, who serves as the spring's caretaker.

But since we protected the spring, water flows freely from the three discharge pipes, making water-fetching easier and quicker.

"Now, I can help them with house chores," Blessing continued. "[Before,] I could only help with water-collecting, hence [I have created a] good relationship with [my guardian]. I am now concentrating much [more] on my studies, unlike before where I could not. I could be beaten up at home after wasting time queuing at the water point."

The new free time has opened life up so Blessing and Alex can spend their time doing other productive things.

"I have learned new skills," Blessing said. "For example, cooking for the entire family after school. [This] will help me in future days."

"[I am] always saving time, thus enabling me [to] carry on with my garden works," Alex said. "I now take good care of my animals, and now they are in good health, unlike before. [I am] planning to begin a business that will be enabling me [to] generate income for my family. I have created good relationships with my fellow village members, as I am the one taking good care of the water source for them."

Blessing, left, and Alex, right, stand at the 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 Shivakala 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 Shivakala 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.


Project Sponsor - SJR