Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 210 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/02/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

The spring used by Makhwabuye Community's 210 members was protected in 1987. Although community members have made many repairs over the years, the structure is no longer cleaning the water. The stairs that once helped people access the discharge pipe have eroded to the point of being useless. And because of the spring's state of disrepair, the people who fetch water from it are constantly sick.

Esther Mbaluka, a local housewife (pictured below with her daughter), shared her experiences with the spring. "Personally, I have been affected by the quality of water. I have had several visits to the hospital because of diarrhea and fevers. On diagnosis, it's identified as typhoid."

"Most of the time, I have been absent from school because of stomach pains," said 10-year-old student Titus M. "It has made me walk to school daily with medicine in [my] bag."

Unfortunately, medicine isn't something the people of Makhwabuye can easily afford. Most of the people earn a living by farming. However, the community is on the edge of a vast reservation called Malava Rainforest occupied by monkeys, renowned for their mischief. Even with fencing, villagers often find their crops stolen or destroyed by their pesky neighbors.

If the sicknesses caused by the contaminated water weren't enough, some community members also experience problems navigating the slippery, rocky route from the village to the spring. The villagers cross several streams to reach what they hope is the safest water, only to get sick anyway.

Constantly suffering from debilitating illnesses leaves the community members without the energy to farm for their food, let alone develop ideas to better their lives. When children miss school due to illness, it's not just harmful to their bodies. It's detrimental to their futures, too.

"I am glad that we have people who have come to our rescue and I believe we shall be helped," Esther concluded.

What We Can Do:

Spring Protection

Protecting the spring will help provide access to cleaner and safer water and reduce people's time 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. Therefore, protecting the spring and offering training and support will 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 training 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 to alter their practices at the personal, household, and community levels to affect change. This training will help ensure participants have the knowledge they need about healthy practices and the importance of making the most of their water point as soon as the 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. The community and we 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 training before transitioning to our regularly scheduled support visits throughout the year.

Training will result in forming 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: Makhwabuye Community Spring Protection Complete!

Makhwabuye Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Mwenesi 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.

"Access to clean water will help me save on hospital bills both at a personal level and also in my family since [I] will spend less time on treatment for waterborne diseases. It will also give me more time to focus on managing my business," said 34-year-old businessman Julius Mwenesi.

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

Flora collecting water.

"Access to clean water will help me reduce on time spent waiting for more than five minutes to get water. As of now, it will only take me 30 seconds to fetch water and go home. I will thus have lots of spare time to invest in my studies at home," said 17-year-old Flora K. "It will also help me avoid wasting time seeking medical attention due to water-related ailments [and] thus be available in school all the time to ensure my performance is at the best."

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

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 their local 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. A large number of community members attended the dedication and jubilantly sang, giving thanks to God for the project.

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 Jemmimah Khasoha and Victor Musemi deployed to the site to lead the event. 24 people attended the training, including 17 women and seven men. We held the training next to the spring. The shade from the trees of Malava Forest helped make it a comfortable venue.

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.

Soap-making training session.

Soap-making was a memorable session. Mr Munika Lwangu, one of the male training participants, reported that he was overjoyed to learn the real process of making soap. He thought soap was made by crushing the leaves of an indigenous tree and mixing them with water until it foamed. To demonstrate, he stepped into the forest, a few meters from where he was sitting, and came back with the leaves he normally uses. He noted that he even uses his "soap" to wash his container before fetching water. All the participants laughed, and many agreed that they also believed that was how soap was made.

Practicing proper handwashing techniques.

"Well, as a businessman, I believe I will make lots of profit from the liquid soap because I will make my own liquid soap from the knowledge I have acquired," said Julius Mwenesi, quoted earlier. "I will not only focus on making a profit but also create job opportunities for the youths in my community."


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: Makhwabuye Community 6 Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Makhwabuye 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: Less time to collect water!

August, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Makhwabuye Community 6.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Makhwabuye Community 6 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!

Fred S., 12, recalled what life was like in Makhwabuye Community before his community’s spring was protected last year.

"Life was hard because when the cows dirtied the water, I had to wait for the dirt to settle before I fetched. It was time-wasting on long queues as children were not allowed to fetch water before adults," said Fred.

But life is much simpler for Fred and the other community members in Makhwabuye Community now.

"There is no more time wasting on long queues as water is flowing from the discharge pipe very fast. I am now able to carry safe, clean drinking water to school," Fred said.

Having ready access to water from the protected spring has made a difference for Fred, allowing him to collect all of the water he needs while trusting the water won't harm him.

"With the help of reliable water from the water point, I have been able to irrigate my tree seedlings which I sell to earn an income for personal use," concluded Fred.

Thank you for helping Fred access clean water and dream about a brighter future.

Right now, there are others just like him 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 Makhwabuye Community 6 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 Makhwabuye Community 6 – 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.


Project Sponsor - StossWater
TGB Caring with Crypto