Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 230 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/07/2024

Project Features

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To look at Joseph Sunguti Spring now, you wouldn't think it needed much help. But our field officers tell us that the partial protection of this spring is a recent phenomenon that occurred after we first identified this spring met our initial strict project vetting criteria. The benefits of the improvements are already in question.

The spring was partially protected in May 2021 by someone campaigning for a political office. It is not uncommon for political aspirants to fund a small development project for a community during a campaign season.

However, the protection was done inexpertly. Although Joseph Sunguti Spring looks nicer now, the "protection" has done very little to solve the problems of Kalenda A Community.

"Aspirants do a project, but do not have the heart of the community in their minds. Sometimes, the aspirants do not even talk to the community about what they are doing," said Catherine, one of our field officers. "Water is already going through the diversion channels. This community will be exposed to the dangers that we are trying to resolve."

A protected spring's diversion channels divert surface water (which is easily contaminated by people, animals, and surface runoff) away from the filtered water source. This spring, which was only protected a few months ago, is already compromised, and the 230 community members are back to square one.

Now, the people of Kalenda A Community complain of typhoid, cholera, and sore throats from using the contaminated water.

"For a long time now, we have been accessing water that is not clean and safe for use," said local farmer, Sylvia Matula. "[I] am a victim of [a] sore throat infection and this, I can say, is [because of] the water from the spring."

"Going to the spring to fetch water every day in the evening and in the morning has been a challenge to me," said student, Dennis W. "[I] am forced not to have ample time for my studies back at home. [This] has greatly impacted negatively in my examinations."

Because of our connection to this community, and our experience and expertise in spring protections, we believe we can provide a way for this community to have reliable, clean water.

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

March, 2022: Joseph Sunguti Spring Protection Complete!

Kalenda Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Joseph Sunguti 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.

"Protection of the water point will reduce cases of water-related diseases. I have been a victim of water infection and this has not been once, twice, but on several occasions. From today, I will live a healthy life," said farmer Tom Kombwa, 53.

Tom at the spring.

He continued, "Accessibility to the spring is now easy and fast. This will allow me [to] draw enough water for use at any given time of need."

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

Sheryl (in the white dress) with her friends at the spring.

Sheryl S., "Accessibility of the water point will allow me [to] spend less time and effort physically collecting water. I see my general health standards improving as the water is now safe for use. With enough water, I will be able to wash my clothes, bathe every day, and also have ample time for my studies, thus [there will be an] improvement in my academics."

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.

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 and a prayer of thanksgiving prayer was made by Mr. Kombwa.

Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19, and More

Due to the ongoing challenges and restrictions amidst the pandemic, we worked with local leaders and the national Ministry of Health to gain approval for a small group training about health, hygiene, and COVID-19 prevention.

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 from the 25 community households to attend the training and relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

When the day arrived, facilitators Christine Masinde and Samuel Simidi deployed to the site to lead the event. 19 people attended the training, including community-based leaders. We held the training under some shade trees.

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.

Oral hygiene session.

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.

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.

Francis at the spring.

Farmer and chairperson of the water committee, Francis Sunguti, said, "Being part of the training has added value to me. The training on hygiene and sanitation has shed more light and I have been able to understand where my weaknesses are. I foresee a positive change in my life in the years to come."


Farmer and secretary of the water committee Tom Kombwa, 53, said, "The facilitator has reminded us to wash our hands using clean running water with soap. Walk in [to] every household that has a handwashing facility, [and] you will not find soap. The training on soap-making is a milestone [for] us. Having been taken through the steps, we now can make soap on our own at a cheaper price enabling us [to] wash hands with water and soap."

Soapmaking training session.

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: Joseph Sunguti Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Kalenda A 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: "I can see and feel a new life."

March, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Kalenda Community 5.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kalenda Community 5 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!

Before the spring was protected in Kalenda last year, the process of collecting water for community members was tedious and slow.

"The entire water source was open for waste products. We had no access point; thus [it was] difficult to collect water," said 12-year-old Collins M.

Collins shared that he often used a cup to collect water and would grow frustrated with how long it took.

But the spring protection completed last year made access to clean, safe water much easier, and the impact is changing people's outlook.

"I can see and feel a new life. This, to me, is really of great help. I can collect several containers of water within a short time," said Collins.

With more time available, Collins has been thinking about his future, and who knows how bright it might be.

"I have no reason for missing school due to water challenges. This has really propelled me to focus on my career," Collins concluded.

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 Kalenda Community 5 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 Kalenda Community 5 – 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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