Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 150 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/09/2024

Project Features

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Mungakha Spring is found at the edge of the Kisere Forest Reserve, which has many indigenous trees that make the area green and lush. Roads leading there are weathered and impassable during the rainy season.

Residential homes in this area vary: temporary houses made with mud walls and grass-thatched roofs, semi-permanent ones made of mud walls and roofed with iron sheets, and a few permanent ones made of either bricks or stone walls and roofed with iron sheets.

This community has ventured most into agricultural activities for their livelihood. Community members are peasant farmers who grow different small-scale crops mainly for consumption, but surpluses are taken to the market to sell or exchange for other goods.

The water source that serves this community of 150 people is open to all agents of contamination. Since the spring is found at the forest's edge, animals like monkeys contaminate the water source, and leaves and fruit fall from nearby trees landing in the water to rot. The contaminated water makes people sick with headaches, sore throats, and coughing. Illness means children miss school and fall behind academically—adults who are ill and unable to do farming activities lose their family's livelihood and food sources.

Judith Mwachi, a 30-year-old farmer and mother, explained, "Though [I] personally don't have any challenge relating to health by use of [the] water drawn from this spring, the same challenge has affected me in one way or the other. I spend a lot of my resources treating my kids for waterborne diseases as a result of using [the] same water fetched from this spring."

It is also difficult to access the water point, especially during the rainy season, because parts of the path are steep.  The route becomes waterlogged and slippery. While wearing sandals, one has to remove them or step into the muddy area to draw water.

"I do waste a lot of my time fetching water from the water source because I must be careful so as not to fetch water with solid particles or floating leaves on the water surface. Besides that, carrying water to my home is so tiresome and hectic," shared 12-year-old Pharel K.

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: Mungakha Community Spring Protection Complete!

Mungakha Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Mungakha 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 reliability of the water will impact me positively because I will improve on hygiene and sanitation in my home and also drink uncontaminated water always," said 38-year-old Judith Mwashi, who was elected as the secretary of Mungakha's water user committee.

Judith carries water at the spring.

"I will ensure that my family will never lack food, even [during] dry spells, because water will be running throughout the day and night," Judith continued. "Within a very short period of time, [the] 20-liter jerrican is full that I will use in irrigating my vegetables. In addition, I will be able to sell my crops, which will help me in improving the living standards of my family."

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

"The reliability of water will impact me positively because I will never be affected by water-borne diseases such as typhoid, which had become rampant [in] my family," said 12-year-old student, Erel K. "I used to miss school because of sickness, which affected my performance a lot."

Erel splashes water.

"My biggest plans and goals is to achieve my dream by working hard in school, since I will not be drinking contaminated water," Erel concluded.

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.

Along with other community members, Erel brings a stone to our artisan for backfilling the spring box.

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.

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 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 Nelly, Amos, Mildred, and Joel deployed to the site to lead the event. 13 people attended the training, including ten women and three men. We held the training outside at the edge of Kisere Forest so everyone could stay in the shade.

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.

In Mungakha, the participants' favorite topic was soap-making, which gave a few people the idea to start making their own soap and selling it for a profit. Everyone took turns stirring the ingredients together so they'd remember the correct consistency of ingredients.

"The training impacted me positively as I was able to learn soap-making, which I have never learned of before," said our friend Erel. "I will be able to teach my fellow friends at school and the community at large, which will help us all to improve hygiene and sanitation in both schools and at home."

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: Mungakha Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Mungakha 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: Time to study and play!

May, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Mungakha Community 4.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mungakha Community 4 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!

"When I was sent to fetch water by my mother at the spring since I [was] a child, I used to wait for the adults to fetch water first, making me to wait for a long time in the line," said eight-year-old Ann when describing what life was like before Mungakha Spring was protected.

"I would fetch dirty water since it had already been contaminated by other people's fetching containers," Ann said.

But since the spring's protection last year, Ann's water fetching experience has been different, since the water flows quickly from the collection pipe directly into her water container.

"I no longer wait for people to fetch water now that I can fetch directly from the pipe without the risk of water contamination," said Ann.

And with quick access to cleaner water, Ann has found she has time for other essential things.

"Generally, I have much much time to read for my school work. I also have enough time to play with other children, and also, I don't fall sick as [much as] I used to before," concluded Ann.

Ann with her beautiful smile.

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 Mungakha Community 4 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 Mungakha Community 4 – 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.


Darby Family Trust
3 individual donor(s)