Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 140 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/08/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

The 140 residents of Isembe Community already attempted to protect their Mangala Spring on their own. But without the proper materials and expertise, they actually made their water quality problem worse. They didn't dig a drainage channel or capture the source of the spring, which means all of the dirt and pollutants from uphill now flow directly into their jerrycans.

Tecla Murevi, a local farmer and housewife, served as our guide in the community. She explained how much she has to gain from a reliable source of clean water: "I have seven children, and three of them are below five years. It has been very challenging to raise them, for they, most of the time, become sickly. Diarrhea is one of the major problems. With clean and safe water, it will be easy for me to help reduce these cases."

The most commonly reported health complaints in this community are waterborne diseases such as typhoid and diarrhea, which mostly affect both the oldest and youngest members of the community. But while health is the chief problem within Isembe Community, it isn't the only one.

"The problem is when we get to the spring during the rainy season," said 13-year-old Daniel W., who lives in the community. "It is usually muddy and there are no stairs to help us draw water. One day, I fell and broke the container. This caused me to be [punished]."

This community has plenty of natural resources with which it can be sustained. It is near a river, where many of the residents fish for sustenance and sale. There is also a quarry that can be mined for ballast (gravel).

But with compromised health, many things are unachievable. The villagers have been too weak to be physically or financially productive. They spend a lot of money on treatment, thus bringing other development activities down.

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

May, 2022: Isembe Community 2 Spring Protection Complete!

Isembe Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Mangala 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.

"Access to safe drinking water from this water point has been greatly improved," said 46-year-old farmer, Tecla Murevi. "This means there will be no time wastage. The staircases will also reduce the risk of falling during [the] rainy season. My children will also go well to school with clean uniforms and smiles on their faces."

Tecla splashes water.

"I will be able to farm in the very early hours of the day then get back to fetching water," Tecla continued. "After the construction of this water point, there is no congestion and I can get water as fast as possible."

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

"Access to clean and safe water will enable me to wash my school uniforms at least twice a week," said 13-year-old Daniel W. "I will also help my mother to fetch for people who will in turn give us money that I will use to buy school shoes. My life will change for good because after getting clean and safe water I will be protected from waterborne diseases such as typhoid."

Daniel at the spring.

"My goal is to have quality time in school and focus on my studies," Daniel continued. "I will no longer [go] to [the] hospital frequent[ly] for treatment. The water point has come at the right time when [I] am doing my final examinations in school."

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 bring bricks to the construction site.

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.

Community women plant grass over the spring box.

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.

We officially handed over the spring to mark the community's ownership of the water point.

The chairman of the newly formed water user committee called the pastor who came to dedicate all the leaders of the water point. He also prayed for peace, unity, and safety for all people who will be using the spring. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day, flowing in all directions.

Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19, 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 Jemmimah and Elvis deployed to the site to lead the event. 20 people attended the training, including 15 women and five men.

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 memorable topic was dental hygiene. Before the facilitator began the training, she asked if people brushed their teeth. To our surprise, no one out of the 20 participants had brushed.

"The training has been very valuable," Tecla said. "I had wished to know how to make liquid soap so that I can start a business but did not get anyone to teach me. This opportunity came in timely. The teachings on hygiene have also empowered me in a great way. I used to [ignore] some things like oral hygiene, which after the training, I realized [was] risking my life and the [lives] of my children."

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!

March, 2022: Mangala Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Isembe 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: Doubled income thanks to water!

May, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Isembe 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!

Alice, 16, recalled what life was like in Isembe Community before her community’s spring was protected last year.

"Getting water initially was not a good thing anyone would like to do. It was dirty because it was open to all sources of contamination, thus exposing us to waterborne diseases. Just because [I] am a girl and I need water on [a] daily basis, [it] forced me to maneuver," said Alice.

But life is much more enjoyable for Alice and the other community members in Isembe Community now.

"Right now, it is very easy to get water. The water point is well protected with good accessibility. This is serving us well," Alice said.

Having ready access to water from the protected spring has made a difference for Alice and her family, even in how productive her father can be in his trade of making bricks.

"My dad makes bricks for sale, and he uses a lot of this water because it is the main source. Constructing it has really simplified work, for we do not take long to have water. Since it was constructed, the number of bricks made in a day increased from 400 to 800 because of easy accessibility of water," shared Alice.

Thank you for helping Alice and her family access clean water and create a more productive, hopeful future.

Right now, there are others just like Alice 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.

Alice's dad makes bricks to generate income for their family. His production has doubled with accessible 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 Isembe 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 Isembe 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.


Project Underwriter - Imago Dei Community
9 individual donor(s)