Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 770 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/04/2024

Project Features

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The 770 residents of Mwikholo Community have become accustomed to the sore throats and diarrheal disease that come with drinking the water from Festo Kuboka Spring.

There is a protected spring in the next community over, but it takes some of the farthest homes over an hour to fetch water from there.

“Households with travel times greater than 30 minutes have been shown to collect progressively less water. Limited water availability may also reduce the amount of water that is used for hygiene in the household.” (The Relationship between Distance to Water Source and Moderate-to-Severe Diarrhea in the Global Enterics Multi-Center Study in Kenya, 2008–2011) - American Journal of Tropical Science and Medicine

So, instead of wasting the time and energy walking to the distant protected source of water, people manage with the contaminated water and everyday ailments.

"We are now used to [the] flu and sore throats because the other source [of water] is quite far [away]," said 52-year-old farmer Rosemary Matisi, shown above fetching water from the unprotected spring. "It is even hard to know if the water we are drinking is good because it is open, and anything that wants to fall [in and] contaminate the water will easily do so."

"We get tired fetching water from the main source because of the distance from our home to the water point," said 12-year-old John K (shown below). "You end up going to school already tired in the morning."

But during the rainy season, the area around the unprotected spring turns to mud and muck, and so does most of the water.

"The access point is a mess during the rainy season," John explained. "Minor accidents as a result of slipping and falling [are] a normal occurrence."

Whenever this happens, people have no option but to walk an hour or more to fetch water from the neighboring community's spring.

A reliable source of safe water nearby will allow Mwikholo's people to channel their time and energy into more productive and life-affirming tasks.

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: Mwikholo Community Spring Protected!

Mwikholo Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Festo Kuboka 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 and reliable drinking water will greatly impact my life. With the new water point in place, less effort and time will be needed for us to access safe drinking water. Quick access to water as community members will be fundamental in our quest to improve our hygiene and sanitation levels," said 62-year-old farmer Joshua Kuboka.

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

"This water point will make my trips to fetch water stress-free. No more worries [about] probable accidents, like falling due to poor access. Access to clean water will also keep me and [my] family members free from waterborne diseases," said nine-year-old Loise N.

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

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.

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 Patience, Mildred, Lilian, and Donaldson deployed to the site to lead the event. 19 people attended the training, including 11 women and eight men. We held the training under a big mango tree on a community member's homestead.

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.

Water handling and the different water treatment methods were popular topics with participants. They admitted that they have suffered from waterborne diseases as a result of consumption of untreated muddy water, which has been costly. They took it seriously and understood the significance the methods can have on their health.

"Having gained knowledge and skill on soap making shall act as an income generating activity for me. Then [I] grabbed relevant leadership skills which will help me serve my people well, being a member of the committee," said 26-year-old farmer and water user committee secretary Alphonce Anunda.


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!

October, 2022: Mwikholo Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Mwikholo 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: Water Enables Income-Generation!

March, 2024

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mwikholo 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!

Thirty-four-year-old farmer Alphonse Anunda recalled what life was like in the Mwikholo Community before his community's spring was protected last year.

"The initial state of our spring was so pathetic that the only way we could get water was to step in the mud [and then] with the same dirty legs step in the drinking water for there was no discharge pipe to help get water. During [the] rainy season, it was terrible for I have a grass-thatched house, so I cannot collect water from the roof. To have an income, I do small-scale farming and [do] casual labor to supplement it. Right now [I] am not having any struggle [to] balance my work well," said Alphonse.

Collecting water is now simpler and faster for Alphonse and the other community members in Mwikholo.

"With the protection of the water point, it is easy for me and anyone else, including children, to get water with ease. This has impacted my life because I have enough time to work on my farm very early in the morning [and] then do my casual work, enabling me to start an income-generating activity for my wife. She is now selling onions and tomatoes in the neighborhood, which makes her busy and also [to] have money," said Alphonse.

Having ready access to water from the spring has made a difference for Alphonse, allowing him time to start income-generating projects for his family and creating a more promising future.

"The greatest achievement I have had so far is having money to enable my wife [to] have an income. After finishing the farm work together, she goes to her business as I get to my casual work; thus, we live in peace and [are] enabled to school our children and get the basic needs," concluded Alphonse.

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 Mwikholo 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 Mwikholo 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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