Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 140 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/04/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

Alex Amalemba Spring is the primary water source for the 140 community members of Makhwabuye, other than rainwater they can collect during the short rainy season.

The spring is unprotected and open to contamination, especially when it rains, causing people to get sick from drinking the dirty water. Stomachaches and diarrhea are common daily problems, and many have suffered from typhoid.

The persistent illnesses community members endure due to drinking dirty water cause people to suffer not only physically but also financially. "The water has really affected me. I had typhoid, which was difficult to treat. I used a lot of money on medication," said Margaret Amalemba, 61, shown below by her rainwater barrel.

The spring presents several other issues that can be solved by protecting it. It is hard to access (even harder when it rains) and needs stairs. People waste the time needed to engage in other productive activities by queuing in long lines at the spring waiting for their turn to collect water. The new water pipe will ensure a steady, sufficient flow of water, making collection times shorter.

Students need their valuable time and energy returned to focus on their studies to allow them a bright future. "The unprotected spring is overcrowded when I come from school because, in the evening, many people congregate to draw water from the spring. This makes me delay my studies," said Mildred P., 14.

“Better water sources also mean less expenditure on health, as people are less likely to fall ill and incur medical costs, and are better able to remain economically productive. With children particularly at risk from water-related diseases, access to improved sources of water can result in better health and therefore better school attendance, with longer-term consequences for their lives.” - WHO Africa

Agriculture is the key economic activity in the community to provide for families and pay their children's school fees. All of the most common crops and livestock—sugarcane, maize, beans, cattle, poultry, and sheep—require sufficient water to thrive. These income-generating projects can succeed by protecting the spring, and people can enjoy their lives more fully.

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

March, 2023: Makhwabuye Community Spring Protection Complete!

Makhwabuye Community now has access to clean water! Thanks to your donation, we transformed Alex Amalemba Spring into a flowing source of naturally filtered water. 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.

"This water source will help widely in promoting entrepreneurial skills. [We] will make use of excess water and develop fish ponds. I will commercialize soap making, and poverty will not be part of my family and me," said 40-year-old farmer and the spring's namesake Alex Amalemba.

"Protection of this spring has increased the thirst for drinking water frequently. Nowadays, I drink 8 to 15 glasses of water per day."

Alex with his wife at the spring.

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


"Consuming water in this spring will boost my health. For a while now, I have been a sickling child, in [and] out of hospital due to waterborne related diseases (typhoid and diarrhea). [I] am one happy soul as I will free from pain and many injections from the doctor," said 11-year-old Benson M.

"The ability to be well again will totally improve on my class attendance all through. I anticipate my academic performance to improve significantly. My future is going to be brightest."

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 into gravel. Because people must carry most items by hand, the material-collection process can take 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 dug temporary channels around the site from the spring's eye. 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, back pressure could force water to emerge elsewhere. Too low, and community members cannot 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.

Stair construction.

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 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.

Constructing fencing.

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.

"Everyone is excited and happy to consume clean and safe water. I am equally excited as the sad faces of people no longer exist in the community. Everyone was happy, and the chairman together with his wife, thanked us for remembering their community," said our field officer Jacklyne Chelagat.

"Each community member promises to take good care of the spring and all its activities. In the spirit of togetherness, every member drank water and enjoyed every sip of it."

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 Jacklyne and Donald deployed to the site to lead the event. 21 people attended the training, including 12 women and nine men. We held the training under an avocado tree.

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.

Making soap.

"In my life, I have never had a meaningful and constructive training. This training has not only taught me how to maintain the protected spring, but it has widely equipped me with skills on how to improve on my sanitation standards," said 42-year-old farmer Jane Wambui.

The Water User Committee.

As part of the leadership and governance training session, the participants agree upon the members of the training to appoint to a water user committee.

"Every participant was excited with the spring leadership. They mutually agreed that they had chosen the right people who have the project at heart, and they will maintain the project well," said Jacklyne.


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!

January, 2023: Makhwabuye Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Makhwabuye 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!

Time saved means income-generation for Metrine!

April, 2024

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Makhwabuye Community 9.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Makhwabuye Community 9 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!

Metrine Muhadia, a 38-year-old farmer, recalled what life was like in the Makhwabuye Community before her community’s spring was protected last March.

"We had improvised collection of water using banana stalks, which contaminated the water further. This water used to cause waterborne diseases like typhoid, diarrhea, and stomachache," Metrine shared candidly.

Collecting water is now much better for Metrine and the other community members in the Makhwabuye Community.

"A 20-liter jerrican is filled with water from the installed water point in less than 30 seconds. There are no more fights at the spring, and [the] quality time saved while drawing water is invested in income-generating activities," she continued on.

Having ready access to water from the spring has made a difference for Metrine, allowing her the opportunity to enhance her family's economic situation and health.

"Access to clean and safe water has minimized water-related illnesses, which in return has reduced hospital bills. This has promoted economic development in our community since money that was used in hospital bills will be channeled to income-generating activities," Metrine 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 Makhwabuye Community 9 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 Makhwabuye Community 9 – 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 - LMNOP, INC
8 individual donor(s)