Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 105 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/09/2024

Project Features

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The water crisis in Shiyenga is worst during the year's dry season when community members who typically rely on shallow wells and rainwater harvesting need to find water elsewhere. This lack of water leads the 105 community members to Buyanzi Spring, far away from residential homes with some walking up to 3km (nearly 2 miles) to the unprotected water source.

The spring is open to several different types of contamination and unsafe for consumption. Community members become sick. Demina Chillicati, a local farmer, shared, "I have been occasionally a victim of waterborne and water-related diseases by use of water fetched at this water point without treating or boiling it to make it safe for consumption. More so, we are wasting a lot of our precious time scooping water because there is no pipe fitted at the water source to ease [the] collection of water."

Community members do their best to carefully collect water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning without stirring it up using a small scooping container. However, this doesn't solve the issue of unclean water because people bathe and wash dirty clothes right in the spring's water. The land around the spring also gradually slopes toward it, and without protection, the runoff deposits solid and liquid waste directly into the water.

"I hate coming for water here because one time, one of the community members who is elderly caned me for making [the] water dirty while I was scooping it using a smaller container. It wasn't my fault. The smaller container fell back into the water as I was trying to pour it into the bigger container," said Silas, age 10.

He continued, "Besides that, I have missed going to school on several occasions as a result of using water fetched here. Typhoid and headache have been a challenge associated with drinking water fetched at this water point."

This community is well-known for innovation. Recently, national media stations featured a young boy from Shiyenga for inventing a wooden bicycle. Clean water is vital for young people to be well enough to create and innovate, and this spring protection will make good health possible.

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

August, 2022: Buyanzi Spring Protection Complete!

Shiyenga Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Buyanzi 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.

74-year-old farmer Esther Odipo said, "I am very optimistic to live many more years from now since I have been drinking water full of agents of contamination and I have survived this long. Now, since I am no longer prone to waterborne ailments, with good health resulting from clean water, I am expecting to do much more, even in personal development."

Esther getting a drink at the spring.

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

Brantone having a drink.

"Most of my siblings, even my parents, have been always victims of waterborne ailments. So access to safe water means a lot to me," said Brantone B., 10. "My parents will not overspend on medication because of waterborne ailments. This implies we will be getting [our] basic needs [met] as well as not missing going to school because of unpaid fees."

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 work together to collect materials.

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.

Building a foundation.

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.

Building 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.

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.

Cementing the stairs.

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.

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.

Happy for the protected 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. The chairperson, together with all elected water user officials, celebrated with prayers and thanksgiving, thanking God and the donors for their protected spring.

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 to relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

When the day arrived, facilitators Jonathan Mutai and Nelly Chebet deployed to the site to lead the event. 25 people attended the training, including 14 women and 11 men. We held the training under shade trees at a local 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.

Soap-making session.

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.

Practicing dental hygiene

A favorite topic of the day was dental hygiene. It was memorable because a facilitator asked participants what they use to brush their teeth when they don't have toothpaste. Most people mentioned using salt or charcoal. But one woman said she has used soap and ash. The rest of the participants burst into laughter before asking her several questions wanting to know how she brushes her teeth with 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!

May, 2022: Shiyenga Community 2 Spring Protection Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Shiyenga 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 Money Saved!

October, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Shiyenga Community 2.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shiyenga Community 2 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!

Victor Wesonga, 26, recalled what life was like in the Shiyenga Community before his community's spring was protected last year.

“This water point was an open source where we used tins to scoop water. With the big number of water users, the source was prone to contamination from various tins [used by] different people. This made us feel [like] we don't [have] access [to] clean and safe water," said Victor.

But life is much more hopeful for Victor and the other community members in Shiyenga now.

"The protection of this spring has brought positive things in our lives. We have saved [the] money we used to buy water treatment chemicals or wood to boil water. Protection and also [the] presence of chlorine has changed our lives," said Victor.

Having ready access to water from the spring has made a difference for Victor, allowing him to save his resources for other important things and improve his health.

"One of my neighbours used to complain of stomach aches, and it was associated with drinking water that is not safe. Generally, our health has improved greatly," concluded Victor.

Right now, there are others 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.

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 Shiyenga Community 2 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 Shiyenga Community 2 – 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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