Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 350 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Dec 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/09/2024

Project Features

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The community members of Mulwanda tried to protect Imbofu Spring. But all their efforts were in vain since the protection was done incorrectly. Water is seeping from all sides of the spring, filling the discharge pipe and the collection area with muddy water and dirt.

Each time the 350 community members go to the spring, the first thing they must do is pull mud out of the collection pipe. Then they scoop the dirt out from underneath their feet to line up their container. Those that do not go through the process to remove the dirt scoop up muddy water from the stagnant pool near their feet to take home.

The process takes a long time and makes the water dirtier and more contaminated. The source is always overcrowded because it takes quite some time to clean the spring and fetch water. This has led to conflicts amongst the women and children and put a strain on people's relationships in the community.

"My hand strains a lot, and I sometimes feel pain when [I] am resting. I use a scooping jug most of the time because with my age, [I] am not able to clean the spring by removing all the mud around. It sometimes results in fetching dirty water, after which my mum scolds me back at home, and this has made me hate fetching water," shared twelve-year-old Derrick W.

Children under the age of five are the most affected by the contaminated water flowing from the spring. They are often sick and suffer from typhoid, diarrhea, coughing, and skin rashes. Their parents spend a lot of money on medication and treatment, leaving the family struggling financially.

"My grandchildren have always complained of stomach ache and visiting the hospital it turns out that they had typhoid. This sometimes is very expensive. As a mother, it really affects me because I won't have peace while I see children becoming sick all the time," said Mrs. Roselyne Imbofu Namulunda, a 68-year-old farmer.

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

December, 2022: Mulwanda Community Spring Protection Complete!

Mulwanda Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Imbofu 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.

"[The] accessibility of water from this spring is now very easy and reliable all the time whether it rains or not," said 23-year-old farmer Jackline Oketa.

Jackline, in the red shirt, with other community members at the spring.

"Additionally, I am no longer wasting my time queuing in order to fetch water, rather fetching water within seconds and concentrating on other economic activities," Jackline continued. "My plan is to improve [my] hygiene and sanitation practices as [they were] taught in training. [The] reliability of clean water all the time [will] allow me to ensure I and my family adhere to [these] hygiene practices, and I [will] no longer be prone to water-related ailments."

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

"[The] accessibility of water from this spring will really impact my life positively," said 13-year-old Jackson. "This is because I would be able to fetch safe and clean water at any time, either in the morning or in the evening, because the spring is high-yielding, thus allowing me to improve in [my] hygiene practices such as personal hygiene."

Jackson at the spring.

"The availability of water from this spring will definitely help me to achieve my goals, such as studies and hygiene, which are very important in life," continued Jackson. "I would no longer waste a lot of time queuing at the water point because this spring is discharging highly, hence I will fetch water in a short time and go back to my studies, which I know will lead to [an] improvement in my academic performance."

"[The] protection of Imbofu Spring was a great milestone for this community," said our field officer, Nelly. "Most of the members felt like they [had] been left behind in matters to do with development. The community members were very grateful for the project."

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 construction materials to the construction site.

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.

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.

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 planting 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 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.

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 Jonathan Mutai and Nelly Chebet deployed to the site to lead the event. 20 people attended the training, including 15 women and five men. We held the training at beside the newly constructed spring on a community member's compound.

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 station (leaky tin) construction.

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.

One of the more memorable topics we covered was how community members can take care of the spring construction so that it lasts. Everyone asked a lot of questions and assured the facilitators they would take good care of the spring as they don't want future generations to suffer without reliable water as they once did.

Another topic that spurred a lot of discussion was oral hygiene, which participants enjoyed demonstrating for their peers.

One participant confessed that he has always used soap to brush his teeth, which his peers and our facilitators discouraged in the future. At the end of the training, participants expressed their thanks for the new knowledge.

An enlightened bunch!


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!

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: "The spring looks beautiful . . ."

April, 2024

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mulwanda 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!

Lavender, 7, recalled what life was like in the Mulwanda Community before her community's spring was protected last year.

"The spring was initially constructed poorly. The structure got worse day by day. It was not appealing to come here. It was slippery and bushy. I wasted a lot of time, especially during [the] drought season when people crowded here," she said.

Collecting water is now less stressful for Lavender and the other community members in the Mulwanda Community.

"The place is clean and clear. The spring looks beautiful, and this makes me come here to collect water as frequently as I can. I trust this water. I even come to fetch during [the] rainy season; my mom prefers this spring water to rainwater," Lavender shared.

Having ready access to water from the spring has made a difference for Lavender, allowing her to collect enough water to meet her needs quickly. Lavender now has time for childhood antics and her education. Clean water access has given her peace of mind and time to enjoy her life!

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 Mulwanda 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 Mulwanda 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.


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