Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 186 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/02/2024

Project Features

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The residents of Makunga Community are mostly comprised of sugarcane farmers, though some also grow maize and raise poultry for a living. While sugarcane is known as one of the thirstiest crops a farm can produce, the same can be said for the community's people, who have never had a source of safe water.

Elvine, who is now a mother herself, reflected on her childhood growing up in the community. "As a child, I experienced many challenges due to lack of clean and safe water, which really contributed to absenteeism in school, poor performance. Most of the time, I skipped washing clothes and bathing, hence living an unhealthy life."

And life isn't any easier for the adults in the community without water to keep them healthy.

"As a parent, I have really suffered due to lack of access to clean and safe water," said local farmer Julias Mitosis. "[I often go] to work late, as much time is spent on accessing water."

Tardiness and hardship are no surprise, given that, without safe water, the community often struggles to perform everyday tasks: bathing, washing dishes, washing clothes, and even just cooking a meal.

Some of the community members have to fetch water four times a day, walking a half-hour each way. With up to four hours of daylight spent lugging jerrycans, the residents of Makunga Community lack enough energy to thrive - and sometimes, even, to survive.

Julias explained: "Due to health issues in my family, agribusiness activities are not achieved." He can only grow enough to feed his family, and not enough to sell for a profit. Thus, when anyone in his family gets sick, they can't purchase proper treatment.

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

June, 2022: Makunga Community 3 Spring Protection Complete!

Makunga Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Malaha 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.

"Water is life," said Julia Naliaka, a community health worker. "With access to clean and safe water, the community at large will have reduced health issues. We will grow economically and our animals will have clean water to drink."

Julia fills a glass at the spring.

"Water-related diseases will not affect us, hence production will grow, contributing to the country's overall development. Normal cleaning will be done on a daily basis, hence hygiene standards will improve."

When we asked Julia what her plans are now that she has clean water, she said, "My focus will be on animal production, which will lead to the growth of my farm."

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

Cristerbel M. told us what she's been doing differently since the spring was protected. "A lot has been done, i.e. cleaning rooms, bathing, [and] washing uniforms on a daily basis. No more absenteeism in school will help me improve [my] performance."

Cristerbell at the spring.

Now, Cristerbel is looking toward the future, and she has big plans. "Health issues will be forgotten, hence my parents will have [a] little money to save for development purposes. I will work extra hard in school to uplift [the] lives of other people in the community and bring change."

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.

Community members help the artisan gather gravel for construction.

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, 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 Jacklin Chelagat deployed to the site to lead the event. 36 people attended the training, including 23 women and 13 men - a huge turnout!

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.

We asked one community member, Pius Kawere, for his thoughts on the training session. "To me, it's a great chance that has really changed my thinking. I can testify that through you people, I have learned matters concerning hygiene and sanitation that I will practice and apply on normal daily activities."

Pius at the spring.

One of the most exciting topics for Makunga's people was soap-making. To many, this subject was a surprise; people didn't believe that soap could be made locally. The community women were very excited to learn the process, which motivated them to form a group to make and sell soap within the community. A few people mentioned that they regretted spending so much money buying soap in the past.

Julia takes a turn stirring the soap.

When we spoke about leadership and governance, both the women and men talked amongst themselves and decided to form two different committees: women formed a duty roster to clean the water point on a daily basis, while the men will maintain the spring's drainage channels and fencing.

This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our partners, 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 our field officers to assist them.

Training on spring maintenance.

Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program. We have an ongoing commitment to walk with each community, cooperatively problem-solving when they face challenges of any kind: with functionality, seasonality, or water quality. With all these components together, we strive to ensure 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.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

April, 2022: Makunga Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Makunga 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: Safe, Clean Water!

June, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Makunga Community 3.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Makunga Community 3 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!

Modester M., 15, recalled what life was like in Makunga before her community’s spring was protected last year.

"Before this project was completed, it was hard to get water, especially during the rainy season. The area around the spring was so slippery, making us trip over with water jerricans making us sustain minor injuries," Modester said.

But life is much more secure for Modester and the other community members in Makunga now.

"It has saved me from getting minor injuries, thus guaranteeing my safety. [The] construction of [the] stairs and [a] well-opened drainage channel [means] I no longer stand inside water so as to fetch [the] water," she continued.

Having ready access to water from the protected spring has made a difference for Modester, allowing her to fetch water safely.

"I have gotten more time, which in turn has helped me assist my parents in [the] cultivation of arrow roots that serve as food for us, and also they sell and therefore help us earn a living," concluded Modester.

Thank you for helping Modester access clean water and for giving her the ability to assist in providing for her family.

Right now, there are others just like her 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.

Modester carrying water

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 Makunga Community 3 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 Makunga Community 3 – 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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