Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 210 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/10/2024

Project Features

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The 210 community members of Makhwabuye tried to protect Takanyi Spring on their own due to sicknesses the community members often experience after drinking the water. Unfortunately, it wasn't done properly.

The spring box, which is the area where the water flows through to be filtered, has been compromised by people and animals constantly walking over the area. This means the layers of rock, clay, and soil have become compacted and can no longer do what they were designed to.

This leaves the community members still experiencing diarrhea, typhoid, and even vomiting. For children, this means they are often absent from school.

However, because water is always available at Takanyi Spring (even during the dry season), many people from neighboring communities come to collect water. This leads to overcrowding and fighting among the people waiting in line.

"Personally I find it so hard to quarrel and fight," said Felistus Injendi (46), a local farmer (pictured above). "At this water point during the dry season, many people do not talk to each [other] for lack of water and discipline. This breeds hatred which leads to fights."

"I wish the spring to be helped so we can have order during the time of fetching water," said Thomas S., 12 (pictured below).

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

February, 2023: Makhwabuye Community Spring Protection Complete!

Makhwabuye Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Takanyi 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.

"Accessing this water point for safe and reliable clean water will make me have an easy time with my work," said farmer Felistus Injendi, to whom we first spoke during our first visit to Makhwabuye. "Initially, I had fear and could not manage my work. This is because it took us [a] long [time] to get water, and also, there were many incidents of injuries when my child and grandchild fell and broke their hands."

Felistus carries a container of water fetched from the new spring.

"Now that this water has been completed, I am sure of clean water and the safety of all users, since it is well-protected and [our] accessibility is guaranteed," Felistus continued. "This water point will help me achieve saving time [when I] used to queue and wait for water. This time will help me to do other constructive work."

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

"Having reliable water and accessing it without any difficulty will impact my life very positively," said 12-year-old Mirrel S. "I will not suffer any sickness resulting from waterborne diseases like before."

Mirrel, right, splashes water with another girl at the new spring.

"I will be able to attend my classes at school on all the days on the calendar," Mirrel continued. "Before this water point was completed, I was a frequent absentee because of typhoid and diarrhea. I will achieve my goal of becoming a nurse since I will have enough time in school and even at home for my studies."

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 bring bricks to the construction site by the handful.

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.

"The community members were very cooperative during the whole process of implementation and even training," said field officer Jemmimah. "This was very encouraging, for it supported the work so much and helped the artisans have a smooth [construction]."

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.

"There [were] additional stairs that were added to prevent the water users from falling during [the] rainy season," said field officer Jemmimah. "The soil around the spring is [made of] clay and [they become] very slippery when it rains. The community members provided more ballast (stones) and sand, which enabled more stairs to be constructed, and this was very helpful."

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.

We officially handed over the spring to mark the community's ownership of the water point. Everyone gathered at the spring to give speeches of gratitude and mark the end of construction with a prayer. 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.

When the day arrived, facilitators Jemmimah, Rose, and Victor deployed to the site to lead the event. 14 people attended the training, including ten women and four men. We held the training at a community member's homestead under a shady tree.

Opening prayer.

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.

Jemmimah helps a community member construct a leaky tin handwashing station.

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 most memorable topic was handwashing, which initially community members showed resistance to adopting consistently. They said that washing your hands before you eat will make your food get cold and waste soap, which is expensive right now in Kenya. However, when we covered why handwashing was important and taught the community members to make soap with their own locally available materials, attendees were convinced that frequent handwashing was not only possible but important for their continued health and freedom from water-related diseases.

Jemmimah shows Felistus proper handwashing technique.

Soap-making was also very interesting for participants, who thought they would need specialized equipment or machines to make soap. They were surprised to learn that soap-making is very simple and inexpensive.

"The training was very valuable, especially the part about taking care of ourselves and making soap," Felistus said (quoted earlier). "Knowledge is power, and indeed I was empowered to learn the skills of making soap."


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!

January, 2023: Makhwabuye Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Makhwabuye 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: Plenty of Water for All!

April, 2024

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Makhwabuye Community 8.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Makhwabuye Community 8 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!

Sarah, 12, recalled what life was like in the Makhwabuye Community before her community's spring was protected last year.

"My parents could not allow me to go fetch water because of the long queues. Thus, I could not manage to wash my uniform every day," said Sarah.

Collecting water is now simpler and faster for Sarah and the other community members in Makhwabuye.

"I am now allowed to fetch water any day, any time because water is always available. Since the completion of the waterpoint, there [have been] no queues witnessed," continued Sarah.

Having ready access to water from the spring has made a difference for Sarah, allowing her to improve her daily hygiene practices.

"I have improved my general cleanliness since water is always available," Sarah said.

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 Makhwabuye Community 8 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 Makhwabuye Community 8 – 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.