Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 350 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/04/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

The 350 people of Elunyu community know their spring is contaminated. It was protected almost four decades ago, but since then, it has fallen into disrepair. As the catchment area has become more and more compromised, water-related disease in the community has multiplied.

Because of this, the people have tried to have the spring re-protected, and have spent a good deal of resources trying to make this happen. But due to a lack of technical knowledge and experience, the spring has never worked as well as it did initially. And even though the community members are constantly cleaning the spring area and fetching water right at daybreak when they believe the water is cleanest, Elunyu's people, especially its children, experience cases of typhoid.

"The spring was first protected by Kakamega County Council in the early 1980s," said 61-year-old Henry Nabwayo (pictured above), who owns the land on which the spring sits. "But since then the spring has gone through gradual wear and degradation that have exposed residents to water problems like overcrowding and stomachaches."

As Henry said, the spring is often overcrowded, which community members have explained is because of the long amount of time it takes to fetch water. People either have to balance on two crumbling, wide-set walls or step into the stagnant water at the base of the discharge pipe. Around the spring are steep slopes where people are liable to slip.

"The water point sometimes gets very wet and makes it so hard for us to fetch water," said 10-year-old Bruce A. (pictured above). "There are no stairs and so we walk into the pool of water every time we are sent to collect water."

With our help, John Akhulunya Spring will be a reliable, easy-to-access place for Elunyu's people to fetch water that will no longer make their children sick.

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

January, 2023: Elunyu Community Spring Protection Complete!

Elunyu Community now has access to clean water! We transformed John Akhulunya 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 personally feel safe through you people," said Henry Nabwayo, a retired laborer and chairman of the water user committee.

Henry collects clean water from the protected spring.

Henry continued: "I have been facing challenges related to unsafe water which [have] really affected my progress in development, but from now things will change. No more spending money on seeking medication or even paying someone to carry water for me. Instead, I will [be] carrying water for other people in return for money, which will sustain my family."

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

Bruce collecting clean water.

"The joy of accessing clean water on time will be fulfilled. Homework will be done on time, [I will be] bathing daily, and also [I will be] going to school without missing [it] and with clean uniforms," said Bruce A.

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.

Women helped collect construction materials.

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.

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.

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 rub 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.

Setting tiles under the water spout to prevent corrosion.

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.

Backfilling the reservoir box with stones.

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.

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 their local field officers to fetch water.

Community members clean the completed spring.

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.

Women celebrate the protected spring.

"The climax of the [dedication] was during the backfilling process, when each and every community member attended," shared field officer Victor Musemi. "[Everyone was] carrying stones and grass for planting and assisting the artisan in the fencing process. After the entire process, the facilitator had an easy time explaining each and every part of the spring and its importance of it. Rules [about the spring's maintenance] were drafted by community members in the presence of the village elders. This was to ensure each community member abides by the set rules. At the end of the session, the facilitator handed [the spring] over to the elected officials in the presence of community members. The older women prayed for the water project, pronouncing good health and blessings."

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 Victor Musemi and Jacklyne Chelagat deployed to the site to lead the event. 20 people attended the training, including five women and 15 men. We held the training under some trees outside a community member's home.

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.

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 the process of making soap.

"It has been a successful day for me. [The] knowledge acquired from you people is of great impact to this community. I have really seen the importance of living a healthy life, which society has been not taking seriously," said Henry, quoted earlier.

The session on leadership was interesting. Fitting with the widespread belief in the community that elders should lead, the group decided to forego voting and allow the elders of the group to appoint water user committee members instead.

The appointed Water User Committee.


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!

November, 2022: Elunyu Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Elunyu 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: Water Enables Achievements!

April, 2024

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Elunyu Community 3.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Elunyu Community 3 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!

Duncan, 14, recalled what life was like in the Elunyu Community before his community's spring was protected last year.

"I used to get to school late because early in the morning, I had to help my grandmother to fetch water for the cows. The main reason being our water was not easily accessed, and so it took us so much time before [I was] able to get [it]," shared Duncan.

Collecting water is now much simpler and faster for Duncan and the other community members in Elunyu.

"Right now, it is a matter of coming at whichever time [because] with so much speed (of the water), [we] get water within the shortest [amount of] time and get back home. This has made me [to] have enough time to do my assignments, help grandmother with house chores, and get to school earlier than the usual time. This has given me peace, which has kept me going both in school and at home," said Duncan.

Having ready access to water from the spring has made a difference for Duncan, allowing him to focus on school instead of wasting his time collecting water.

When we asked Duncan what things the water point has helped him achieve, he had something inspiring to say! "The biggest plan I had was to get to school early, which was to help me pass my examination. I did this, and I was the best student in our class, and I came to realize that with water, you can achieve or get anything."

Duncan watering the garden.

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 Elunyu Community 3 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 Elunyu Community 3 – 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.