Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 154 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 01/13/2023

Project Features

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Some of the 154 people in Lunyinya Community have to walk for an hour each way to reach Steven Shitundo Spring - once in the morning, and then again in the evening. After their long journey, they are often met with overcrowding and long lines at the water point.

The spring area is steep. There are no stairs, and the spring is located in a water catchment area, which makes the waterpoint very difficult to access, especially during the rainy season, and especially for the older members of the community, and expectant mothers.

Rather than suffering this constant inconvenience, many people in the community choose to go without water. Some don't bathe for long stretches in an effort to conserve the water they can get. Others try not washing utensils, dishes, and clothes as often as they know they should.

"Life is full of challenges, water being one of them," said a local farmer, Steven Ondondi. "[This has] really contributed to a poor state of hygiene. People skipping bathing, washing clothes, and even others using utensils twice without cleaning. This has really contributed to health complications and costs incurred for treatment."

The rate of poverty in Lunyinya is so high that many parents can't afford to medicate their children when they become sick from contaminated water and poor hygiene practices. Common diseases in this region are cholera, typhoid, coughing, and diarrhea - all preventable with a source of clean water.

For a community of sugarcane farmers, time spent sick at home or in the hospital means time their fields go neglected: their only source of income lying fallow. This means many villagers cannot afford to pay their children's school fees.

"Growing up in this community, I have experienced a lot," said Mary Shitundo, a local farmer and community member. "Lack of access to clean and safe water has contributed to absenteeism among pupils in school."

"Diseases affect us," Mary continued. "The time factor also contributes to not achieving our daily activities, due to overcrowding of people at the water source, and the high number of people fetching water."

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

06/13/2022: Steven Shitundo Spring Protection Complete!

Lunyinya Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Steven Shitundo 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.

Agneta is all smiles.

"[I] am happy about the great gift we got. Access to clean and safe water will drastically bring changes in my family and community at large. No more spending much on seeking medication. I will ensure my children will not miss school due to dirty clothes or lack of water, etc. I, too, will enjoy a healthy life full of joy," said farmer Steven Shitundo, 48, the spring's namesake.

Steven Shitundo collecting water from the protected spring.

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

Rueben said, "Health issues will be minimal [and] our parents will not spend much seeking medication. l will not miss school due to lack of water."

Reuben W., age 10.

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

At last, it was time to dig in at the spring! Locals lent their strength to the artisans to help with the manual labor.

People help collect construction materials.

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.

Beginning brickwork.

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.

Building the rub walls.

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.

Plastering the walls.

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.

Setting tiles beneath the discharge pipe.

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.

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.

Children from the community help transplant 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 our field officers to fetch water.

Water flowing!

After the on-site training where everyone actively participated in raising issues that will ensure the protection of the facility for future generations we officially handed over the spring to the few selected leaders witnessed by the community. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day, flowing in all directions.

Moreen collecting water.

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 Victor Musemi and Jacklin Chelagat deployed to the site to lead the event. 22 people attended the training, including 14 women and eight men. We held the training under the shade of the trees on Peter Shitundo's homestead.

Soap-making session.

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.

Learning about solar water treatment.

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.

Training in proper hand washing.

The leadership session was interactive and exciting for community members. For years the leadership role in the community has only been practiced by males believing each and every role must be played by a man for it to be successful. After a discussion, everyone got excited and started whispering to one another that the younger generation should be given a chance to lead as they played a major role in helping our artisan and making the project successful. There was a spontaneous election and the majority of people immediately appointed a young woman in the group to lead the Water User Committee.

Agneta collecting water.

"The training was very much successfully done. I could interact with other people to learn ideas which I will use to add value to the community at large. The knowledge will also help in strengthening our weaknesses in matters concerning hygiene and sanitation," said Agneta Musumbai, a local farmer.

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!

04/12/2022: Lunyinya Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Lunyinya 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!


Project Sponsor - Berkshire Blanket