Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 280 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/03/2024

Project Features

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Although Opaye Forest Spring was protected years ago, it's now fallen into disrepair. The spring box, which is meant to naturally filter the water, has been broken. Now, water seeps through cracks in the cement, and its water makes Mukavakava's 350 people sick with typhoid, amoeba, and chronic diarrhea.

Another problem is the drainage channel, which is meant to direct water away to prevent pools of stagnant water, no longer works. This means people have to balance on the channel's walls while fetching or stand in the water. And because the spring doesn't function properly, filling a jerrycan takes a long time. This leads to long lines of people waiting for their turn to fetch water, and fighting when everyone becomes impatient.

"The amount of time spent going for water throughout the day ends up affecting my productivity in the long run," explained Grace Mukiva, 59 (pictured above).

"I get very little time to study and even play with my friends because most times after school I have to go out and fetch water to be used at home," said Maria K., 11 (pictured below).

The non-functioning spring robs people of their health and their time in equal measure. However, with some intervention and goodwill, the spring's water will be clean and will flow freely, freeing up the people of Mukavakava for more productive (and playful!) lives.

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

November, 2022: Opaye Forest Spring Protection Complete!

Mukavakava Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Opaye Forest 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.

"Before this waterpoint, accessing water was such a task, because it meant queuing for a long time in order to get water," said 39-year-old farmer Priscilla Nechesa.

Priscilla rinses her hands at the spring.

"I had to be up very early in order that by the time the sun [was] up, I [would] have already fetched water. But now that has changed. With the amount of water being discharged, it will only take a short time. Chores around the house no longer have to be boring and tiring. I hope to maintain very high levels of cleanliness at my house."

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

Thomas at the spring.

"Before the water point, I had to treat a few episodes of stomach problems," said ten-year-old Thomas T. "One time, I even suffered from typhoid. But now, I know with access to safe water, this will be a thing of the past. I always dreaded going to the spring after school because of the kind of commotion you would find there. But now I'm excited I'll get to help my mother without any hassle. Spending less time [at] the spring means more time. Now, I'll have time to play with my friends at home."

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

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.

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 Patience, Mildred, and Brenda deployed to the site to lead the event. 24 people attended the training, including 13 women and 11 men. We held the training at a centrally located homestead.

One of the village elders leads an opening prayer for the training session.

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.

The most enlightening topic for this group was handwashing, as most families confessed to rinsing their hands after each wash using a communal bowl of water. The facilitators explained that running water is necessary in order to eliminate germs and avoid disease transmission.

Patience demonstrates how to scrub hands properly.

Another notable topic was sex and teenage pregnancy. Most of the training attendees had teenage children, and young pregnancy is an ongoing problem in this community. At first, participants were uncomfortable discussing sex, but eventually, they admitted that most of them hadn't discussed it with their children and wanted it to be taught in school instead. At the end of the session, all the parents agreed it was important for sex to be openly talked about so as to break the cycle of early pregnancies and the stigma surrounding them.

Patience shows how to filter water.

"I have learned the importance of water treatment and [the] methods of treating this water," said 19-year-old Joyce Barasa, when she was asked about what she found most useful during the training. "This will help me in the way I handle my water. I hope to pass this on to other members of my family, too."


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!

September, 2022: Mukavakava Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Mukavakava 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: Young and Old Enjoying Water Access!

November, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mukavakava Community 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!

Farmer Lorna Kageha, 56, recalled what life was like in the Mukavakava Community before her community's spring was protected last year.

"It was challenging for us to fetch water for this spring. This is because the spring is found in a valley inside the forest. During rainy seasons, our contaminants were being swept to the water point, which makes the water unsafe for drinking," said Lorna.

But collecting water is much easier for Lorna and the other community members in Mukavakava Community now.

"Protection of this water point has impacted both young and old people in this community. Personally, clean water from this spring has impacted my life positively. Firstly, my skin has changed. I used to have rashes because of taking [a] bath with dirty water, but nowadays, my skin has changed," said Lorna.

Having ready access to water from the spring has made a difference for Lorna, allowing her to improve her personal hygiene practices.

"My plans or goals were to ensure that I improved in personal hygiene practices, which has come through. Reliable and clean water has helped me take [a] bath at least twice a day, unlike before where I had to take [a] bath only twice a week with [the] water," concluded Lorna.

Lorna collecting water.

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 Mukavakava Community 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 Mukavakava Community – 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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