Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 186 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/14/2024

Project Features

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The Chepkuony Community is made of clay houses scattered amongst vegetation and an abundance of indigenous trees. The few bumpy roads leading to the community are hard to access, especially during the rainy season.

The main economic activity in this region is the farming of tea. Other small-scale farming of maize, beans, and bananas helps sustain families with food to eat. Additional income-generating activities include small businesses and animal-rearing.

Shaka Spring is difficult to access, especially in the rainy season. This unprotected water source serves 186 community members and other people from outside the community who come in search of water.

The paths leading to the spring are narrow and steep, with no stairs or way to gain your footing. Once people arrive, the water catchment area is very rocky and shallow, so they must use small scoop containers to fill larger jugs. This makes collecting water tedious and time-consuming.

The spring is often overcrowded, so community members must make several trips to the spring daily to collect enough water for drinking, cooking, laundry, and farming. It is labor-intensive and exhausting, with delays disrupting people's normal routines related to family life, school, and work.

"It has taken God's favor for us to be the way we are. As a pupil of this community, I have been affected by wasting time looking for water. Sometimes [I] skip school due to unclean uniforms. [I] strain when accessing water as it (the spring) has no stairs. Also, economically, our parents spend much [money] on medication; thus [the] rate of poverty grows among us," said local student, James M. (shown above collecting water).

Due to the openness of the spring, the water is contaminated, and the surrounding area is lined with green mold. The water color often changes to brown, and waste products can be seen floating on the surface. Obviously, none of these things are healthy for human consumption, but people must use the water because there is no safe water source.

Health issues are frequently reported among community members who use this water. People have a high chance of getting diseases like typhoid and cholera or other water-related illnesses.

The poor health of community members leads to economic hardship. Agribusiness suffers when they are ill, and the little money they have is used for medical treatments. This cycle contributes to a high rate of poverty.

"This community has been using this water point for a long time. People have been affected by [the] time taken to fetch water most in [the] morning when it's time to do daily activities. Diseases also have affected them financially when trying to seek medication. [For] old age people and expectant mothers, it's become a challenge for them to fetch water [because] the spring has no stairs for easy accessibility. Lastly, hygiene is not up to standard," said Luke Keya, a 52-year-old farmer (shown above).

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

April, 2022: Chepkuony Community 2, Shaka Spring Protection Complete!

Chepkuony Community 2 now has access to clean water! We transformed Shaka Spring into a flowing source of water, thanks to your donation. Our team protected the spring and trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices, including COVID-19 prevention.

"As I speak now, things are changing," said Janet Khasi, a 40-year-old farmer. "Cleanliness is well upheld. Good health is going to be my portion. My children are going to school without missing lessons. There is enough water for cleaning, drinking, washing, etc. I really thank God for using you people to change [the] lives of people."

Janet splashes water at the newly completed spring.

Looking toward the future, Janet added: "Financially, [I] am using the little money [I have saved] for development. Being healthy and energetic has allowed me to concentrate on my business and empower the vulnerable children within the community."

Children were just as excited as the adults about the new water point.

"[I] am glad and happy to belong to this community," said 10-year-old Natasha L. "I can stand and be proud. I can clean my uniform on a daily basis due to [the] availability of enough clean water. [I am also] bathing daily, cleaning my room and having enough time to study."

Natasha fills a cup.

"Having access to clean and safe water, my focus is to ensure that children from our community maintain high standards of hygiene and sanitation," Natasha 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 materials collection process can take anywhere from a few weeks to months.

When the community members had prepared everything, we sent a lorry to the community to deliver the rest of the construction materials, including the cement, plastic tarps, and hardware. Then, our 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 each day 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 surface runoff diversion channels above and around the spring. These help to divert environmental contaminants carried by the rains away from the spring.

Community member clearing land so the spring protection can begin.

To ensure community members could still fetch water throughout the construction process, we also dug temporary diversion channels from the spring's eye around the construction site. This allowed water to flow without severely disrupting community members' water needs or the construction work.

Excavation created space for setting the spring's foundation, which is made of thick plastic tarp, wire mesh, concrete, and waterproof cement. After setting the base, we started brickwork to build the headwall, wing walls, and stairs.

Next, we began one of the most crucial spring protection steps to ensure a fully functional water point: setting the discharge pipe. The discharge pipe has to be low enough in the headwall so that the water level inside never rises above the spring's eye, yet high enough to leave eighteen to twenty inches between the pipe and the spring floor. This allows 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, too much backpressure could force the flow 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 medium to large stones on both sides of the spring's drainage channel. We then cemented and plastered each stone group into place, forming the rub walls. This helps discourage people and animals from standing in that area, which could cause soil erosion and thus a clogged drainage area.

We then turned to cementing and plastering 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 were curing, 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.

We transitioned to the final stages of construction with the tiles in place - backfilling the reservoir box. First, we cleared the collection box of any debris that may have fallen in since its construction, such as dead leaves or other items. 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 the water through the discharge pipe only.

With much help from the community, we filled up the reservoir area with the clean and large stones they gathered, arranging them in layers like a well-fitting puzzle. We covered the rocks with a thick plastic tarp to minimize potential contamination sources from aboveground, followed by a layer of soil. We piled enough dirt on top to create a slight mound to compensate for the backfill's future settlement.

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 since 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 it was ready, people got the okay from our field officers to fetch water. 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.

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 Victor Musemi and Amos Emisiko deployed to the site to lead the event. 21 people attended the training, including 18 females and three males. We held the training outside under a shady tree.

Perhaps the most crucial topic of the day was our session on COVID-19 prevention and control. Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the virus and provide extra information where needed.

We covered several other topics, including community participation in the project; leadership and governance; personal and environmental hygiene; water handling and treatment; operation and maintenance of the spring; dental hygiene; the ten steps of handwashing; and how to make and use a tippy tap and leaky tin. In addition, we held an election for the newly formed water user committee leaders during the leadership and governance session.

"This was a very interactive session," said Janet. "I have acquired [the] right skills and knowledge. These skills will practically help me in improving on the hygiene and sanitation standards."

We also brainstormed income-generating activities that community members can use to start a group savings account for any future minor repairs to the spring and a cooperative lending group to enable members to develop small businesses.

The community members of Chepkuony were most excited about soap-making, as they never knew that soap could be made at home without complicated ingredients or machinery. Some of the attendees even decided to form a soap-making group so that they could sell soap at the local market. Most people asked to take a turn stirring the soap as it was being made.

A group photo after the training was done.

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!

February, 2022: Shaka Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in the community of Chepkuony 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: "No more conflicts among us!"

March, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Chepkuony 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!

Last year before Shaka spring was protected, the community members living in Chepkuony had difficulty safely and quickly collecting water. They had to be careful on the muddy, narrow paths so they wouldn't slip and fall as they approached the water point, and they wasted their valuable time scooping water up little by little since the spring was so shallow. The painstakingly slow process often led to quarrels amongst community members and serious interruptions in their daily schedules.

"Going for water meant congestion, [and] conflicts amongst ourselves. It meant going at very odd hours in order to avoid people and conflicts," said 28-year-old farmer Melab Halima.

But since the spring was protected, things have changed for Melab and her fellow community members. Collecting water is now much easier, and there is less reason for conflict.

"After installation, I enjoy getting water because now everyone is sure of fetching water without having to wait for long hours. No more conflicts among us!" said Melab.

With less time wasted at the waterpoint Melab now has time for other important things that used to get delayed or neglected, which positively impacts her whole family.

"Little time spent at the water has helped me to be able to manage time for chores around the house. My children always find their lunch ready as soon as they come for lunch, unlike [in] previous times," concluded Melab.

Melab at 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 Chepkuony 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 Chepkuony 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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