Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 210 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/02/2023

Project Features

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Although the water of Abel Masai Spring never stops flowing, the water also delivers Musingu's 210 community members a constant stream of water-related illnesses, leaving a trail of bereaved parents and orphans in its wake.

The most commonly reported illness in Musingu is typhoid, which can be deadly if left untreated. But treating typhoid also comes at a great cost for families already struggling financially.

"My wife has really used a lot of money on medication to treat typhoid," said 40-year-old farmer, Simon Masai (in the photo above). "As a family, we can't afford that money."

But with an unprotected spring as their only water source, it's easy to see why so many people in Musingu get sick. The water source is open to all forms of contamination: human, animal, and environmental. Whenever it rains, the water turns brown and opaque from stirred-up sediment and fertilizer from nearby farms that wash into the stream.

The way some of the younger community members treat (or don't treat) the water may be causing some illnesses as well.

"You find that when children come from school to fetch water, they immerse their containers into the water, yet some of them are not clean," said 17-year-old Pauline M., in the photo below. "After [drinking the] water, they start to complain about [their] stomachs."

“Children require more water (by weight) than adults, so their exposure to water-borne pathogens is much higher. Diarrhoeal diseases cause dehydration in children much faster than in adults. Children are more likely to develop severe infections and experience complications during recovery due to their small body size and their developing immune systems, which provide little natural immunity or resistance.” - UNICEF

With an improved water source and some hygiene and sanitation training, the people of Musingu should see drastic improvements in their health. All that money that has gone into treating water-related illnesses could be channeled into more productive things. And hopefully, there will be fewer grieving parents and orphans in Musingu in the future.

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 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. 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

January, 2023: Musingu Community Spring Protection Complete!

Musingu Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Abel Masai 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.

"We now have clean drinking water which will keep us well hydrated and free from water-related diseases. The availability of safe water will also promote high hygiene standards in our community. This will reduce trips to health centers. Therefore, money that was used before on hospital bills will now be used as capital for income-generating activities to support families economically," said 22-year-old Victor Mwalati.

Victor with a glass of clean water.

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

"It is amazing how this waterpoint has been transformed in a way I could not have ever imagined. The water is very clean. I believe I will hardly get sickness caused by dirty and contaminated water. Fetching water is very fast and easy. It is fun getting water, unlike before when the water source was open and prone to contamination and drowning, especially for children like me," said 14-year-old Mitchelle A.

Mitchelle enjoys easy water access.

She concluded: "The time that was wasted scooping and queueing for water will now be converted to studying and also playing with my friends."

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 collect building materials.

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.

Beginning the foundation.

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.

Setting the discharge pipe.

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.

Building the stairs.

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.

Installing tiles to reduce corrosion under the water spout.

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.

Backfilling the reservoir box with clay.

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.

A community member transplants grass.

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.

Happy community members!

The village elder gave thanks to everyone involved for the provision of safe and clean water and encouraged the community members present to take good care of the water source.

Village elder, Joram Mukalo.

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 Rose deployed to the site to lead the event. 20 people attended the training, including nine women and 11 men. We held the training at a community member's homestead.

Handing out training materials.

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.

Learning to make soap.

"The most unforgettable topic was the one about soap making. The participants listened and observed keenly as the facilitator introduced the reagents and demonstrated how to mix them in a particular order. They displayed an interest in starting to make the liquid soap for sale to economically empower themselves and spread the message of improved hygiene and sanitation standards to other people," said field officer Christine Masinde.

Water User Committee chairman Silas Khayisia.

"This training has been very resourceful to us. Through the information we have acquired today, we will be able to change from our normal behavior to new practices which will help us maintain good health and prevent the spread of hygiene and water-related illnesses," said 43-year-old farmer Silas Khayisia.


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!

November, 2022: Musingu Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Musingu 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

Protected Spring

In many communities, natural springs exist as water flows from cracks in rocky ground or the side of a hill.  Springs provide reliable water but that doesn’t mean safe. When left open they become contaminated by surface contamination, animal and human waste and rain runoff. The solution is to protect the source. First, you excavate around the exact source area of the spring. Then, you build a protective reservoir for water flow, which pours through a reinforced pipe in a concrete headwall to a paved collection area. Safe water typically flows year-round and there is very limited ongoing maintenance needed!


Casco Bay High School
North Dunedin Baptist Church
44 individual donor(s)