Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 210 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 01/16/2024

Project Features

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Algae and dead insects float in the water fetched from Chikamayi Spring. Any water fetched here must first be sieved and treated before anyone can drink it. Even then, Mukavakava's 210 people report suffering from amoeba, typhoid, and diarrhea, among other waterborne diseases.

At first glance, Chikamayi Spring looks fine, if a little run-down. But community members we spoke with say that the area around the spring is usually flooded, which is a sure sign that the spring's box, which is meant to filter the water and direct it to the discharge pipe, has been compromised.

With so much water seeping into the surrounding soil, sometimes the water flowing from the discharge pipe slows to a tiny dribble. Coupled with the balancing act water-fetchers must perform each time they want to fill their containers, this translates to long lines at the water point and short tempers.

"I have to wake up very early in the morning so as to ensure I get enough water for the cattle and also for domestic use," explained Cheto Chikamayi, 31 (in the photo above). "At the end of the day, most times I have to get something to relieve the aches because my body is usually in pain."

Nine-year-old Goodluck (shown above) told us that he dreads having to go fetch water for his family. "The idea of having to go fetch water to be used at the house every day is quite cumbersome," he said. "That means I have to go [wait in the] long queue and spend so much time there. I don't get enough time to do schoolwork or to play."

Illness and tediousness characterize the current water crisis in Mukavakava. But with a newly protected spring, whose water is filtered and directed properly, these problems will vanish.

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: Chikamayi Spring Protection Complete!

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

"There shall be minimal money spent on treating water-related diseases because I will be consuming clean water, leading to good health," said 32-year-old farmer, Cheto Chikamayi, to whom we spoke when we first visited Mukavakava.

Cheto at the new spring.

"Also, there shall be minimal time spent collecting water for domestic use, and for my cows, too. They will get enough water for drinking because water will available in plenty. When it comes to the business sector, the reliability of water will favor my brick-making plan, which, in [the] future, shall generate money."

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

Goodluck at the spring.

"[I] will be assured of good health by consumption of clean water and food which has been prepared using clean, safe water," said 10-year-old Goodluck - another person we interviewed when creating our community profile. "It will also promote the level of my cleanliness by ensuring I clean my school uniform and home clothes on a regular basis and also get to bathe every day using plenty of water."

"[I] will achieve more when it comes to schoolwork," Goodluck continued. "The time I used to spend queuing at the water point will be converted to studying. This will really help me concentrate more, thus getting good grades. Then, also, we [will] get some time to play and interact with my friends both in school and 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.

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. Our field officer and the artisan in charge trained the community members on the proper use and maintenance of the spring, after which the implementing officer gave her final closing remarks by appreciating the community for the support they offered during the implementation process.

Then lastly, Agnes Nanjala, the assistant chairperson of the new Water User Committee, offered a closing prayer.

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, Kevin, Joel, Mildred, and Lilian deployed to the site to lead the event. 14 people attended the training, including nine women and five men.

The training participants.

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.

Patience shows participants how to use a tippy-tap.

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 community members were uncomfortable at first when we covered sex education and teenage pregnancy, but with openness and some coaxing, they eventually opened up. We shared that it's important for young adults to learn about sex as this helps prevent teenage pregnancy, which is a problem in Kenya. At the end of the discussion, participants thanked the trainers for having brought it up.

"This is a community that had battled so much with water-related diseases, all because of having less knowledge on how it can be curbed," said our field officer, Mildred.

A lesson on water treatment, storage, and disinfection.

"One [woman] narrated how she [walked] a long distance just to get to a spring that had [a] chlorine [dispenser] because boiling water consumed a lot of firewood, which, at times, could not be found," Mildred continued. "The discussion was based on how [disease] reduction can be done by ensuring they consume treated water using the different methods highlighted during the training and by handling water hygienically right from the water source to storage."

"When it comes to hygiene and sanitation, I used to brush my teeth, but not in a proper way as demonstrated in the training," said Agnes Nanjala, the new assistant chairperson of the Water User Committee.

Agnes at the training.

"So I [learned] the right way on how to brush, then washing of hands in the recommended manner," Agnes continued. "I have also [learned] the qualities of being a good leader, since I'm one of the elected local leaders. [I] have also acquired knowledge and skills in soap-making, which will help me prepare the soap on my own once I get the reagents. The soap will help me in doing my daily cleaning. Lastly, being a mother, [I] have learned about [the] proper maintenance of my homestead by having a dish rack, clothesline, and even a compost pit, and when I get all this, the level of hygiene shall increase, thus promoting good health."


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!

August, 2022: Mukavakava Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Mukavakava 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: Time to Focus on Academics!

January, 2024

A year ago, your generous donation helped the Mukavakava Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Phanice. 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 2.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mukavakava 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!

Phanice K., 17, recalled what life was like in the Mukavakava Community before her community’s spring was protected last year.

“Getting clean water from this source was really a great challenge. The area was overcrowded by people. It was difficult to collect since it had no collection area and most of time you could see floating waste on [the] water's surface. I would wait [for the] water to settle before collecting [it],” said Phanice.

Collecting water is now much faster and simpler for Phanice and the other community members in Mukavakava.

"I really like fetching water from this water point because it is well secured and water is being collected through [the] pipe which is more effective and saves on time. I can also fetch many containers within a short time,” continued Phanice.

Having ready access to water from the spring has made a difference for Phanice allowing her time to focus on other important things like studying and working towards a brighter future.

"As a student [I] am really practicing time management by ensuring that I can have enough time on my studies and ensure I finish school assignments on time. Academically my parents are very happy with me. I have really managed to score impressive results which is a good comeback after a period of time. Having a conducive learning environment my future dream is to be a teacher so that I can change the society and empower them on matters concerning hygiene and sanitation," concluded Phanice.

Phanice with other community members collecting clean 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 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 Mukavakava 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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