Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 400 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/04/2024

Project Features

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Mwitsai Spring is the primary water source for the 400 people of Mwitsai, but the brown, murky water is a sure sign that its water is not safe for human consumption.

Community members do their best to collect water first thing in the morning before the sediment at the bottom of the pool is stirred up by other water-fetchers. If they cannot visit the spring early, they often wait until late in the evening, hoping the water would have settled. But sadly, no amount of settling will remove the unseen dangers lurking in the water that inflict people with frequent sore throats and stomachaches.

"We are not sure of the quality of the water we are drinking; being an open source, everything that wishes to get into the water will. Our neighbors here complain of frequent sore throats, which can be linked to consumption of water from the open water source," said Selina Akhonya, a small-scale farmer shown scooping water above.

A young boy from the community echoed Selina's sentiments. "You'll find small children in the course of fetching, dipping their hands and whole container into the water, thus contaminating the water," said Evans S., scooping water below.

Community members walk a narrow path through surrounding farm plots to arrive at the water pool that dirt banks encase. People must crouch down and balance on a wood plank to collect water. They either lay their containers on their side to fill or use a smaller container to tediously scoop water into their collection jugs. The area is challenging to navigate, especially when spilled water or rain make the banks slick.

"The access [area] is giving us problems. Spillages and runoff water also make the area slippery, hence [we are] susceptible to minor accidents, especially [the] children fetching water," Evans said.

The people of Mwitsai are ready for their spring to be protected and for access to be made easier so they can safely collect reliable, uncontaminated drinking water and not waste so much time and energy on collecting 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 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: Mwitsai Community Spring Protection Complete!

Mwitsai Community now has access to clean water! Thanks to your donation, we transformed Mwitsai 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.

"Initially, a lot of time was wasted waiting for water to settle before the next person draws. During rainy seasons, the water point became so dirty in that all the dirt from the road flowed into it. This has been making our lives miserable due to diarrheal diseases," said 50-year-old farmer Cecilia Noah.

"[But now] the rate of waterborne diseases will reduce, and sanitation standards will improve because we are sure that the water is safe for human consumption."

Cecilia collecting water.

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

"I thank God because I will have time to play with my friends and even discuss our school work together, and by so doing, we shall all achieve our academic goal as a community," said 16-year-old Pauline A.

"I will have good relationships with my mother because I will take the shortest time possible and have time to do my revision which will help me improve academically."


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.

Community members collect 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 around the construction 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 a 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 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.

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 Jemmimah and Victor deployed to the site to lead the event. 12 people attended the training, including 11 women and one man. We held the training at the home of one of the water user committee.

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.

"Soap making turned up to be our most memorable topic during the training session. All the participants admitted that they had never seen how soap is made because they could only [see a] few individuals walking around selling [it]. This was, in fact, the major reason they attended the training knowing that the product would be shared amongst themselves," said our field officer Jemmimah Khasoha.

"I have really learned a lot during the training, and the most important thing I will keep remembering was handwashing. This is because I have been washing hands the wrong way, for I would pour water in a basin and ask my family members to wash their hands, starting from the elderly to the smallest member. I realized it was [unjust] to the young members because they only wash their hands with dirty water. I have learnt that one needs to use running water with soap, and in case there is no soap, one can use ash," said Cecilia, quoted earlier.


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: Mwitsai Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Mwitsai 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!

Fewer Educational Roadblocks for Benard!

April, 2024

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mwitsai Community 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!

Benard, 16, recalled what life was like in the Mwitsai Community before his community's spring was protected last year.

"Getting water was a struggle and [a] very tedious process. I could get to the spring and find the water dirty. That [was] time [away] from school, tired and with assignments to do. This forced me to waste more time waiting for it to settle, and normally, I could not finish my assignments," Benard shared.

Collecting water is now less tiresome for Benard and the other community members in Mwitsai.

"Taking less than a minute to draw clean water is the greatest miracle that happened in our community. It was like [a] bright light shown in the darkest tunnel. [I] am able to go to the spring more than five times after school, do my school assignments, and help my mum with other duties like cooking because of this waterpoint. It has saved a lot of my time, and this is the greatest impact I can attest," he continued.

Having ready access to water from the spring has made a difference for Benard, allowing him to prioritize his education. His school fees are paid, and he has his time back and clean water to drink; nothing is getting in the way of his future now!

"As an individual, [I] am never late with school assignments like before, and this has helped me improve my performance. I am also grateful because this waterpoint enabled my parents to make more bricks, which enabled them to pay for my school fees, and I was never sent home," Benard 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 Mwitsai Community 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 Mwitsai Community – 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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