Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 280 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2024

Functionality Status:  Functional

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

The 280 people of Chiliva combined their resources together to have their spring protected by a contractor in the 1990s. Initially, the protection worked well. But over time, things have begun to fall apart, and more and more people are getting sick from drinking the water.

The spring construction is no longer functioning as it should on a few different levels. The first and most important sign that something has gone awry is the community members' poor health. But the spring box, the area behind the discharge pipe that filters the water, has become compacted, so the once-carefully-placed layers of clay, rock, and soil can no longer catch the contaminants that harm people.

This may also be causing another visible problem: the spring's water is finding ways around the construction, suggesting either that the protection is no longer sufficient for the amount of water produced by the spring, or that the water can't go where it usually would.

Community members must now boil the water before anyone drinks it, but practically, this isn't always possible for our interviewee, 53-year-old Violet Amekove.

"Personally, I have really tried not to take (drink) this water before treatment, but the challenge is controlling the young ones," Violet said. "Most of the time, you will hear them complaining about headaches and stomach upsets. Two months ago, I visited the hospital several times because my granddaughter was unwell."

The water crisis in Chiliva also disrupts community members' schedules, especially in the dry season. The amount of water in the spring decreases when there's no rain, which means it takes longer to fill up a container with water.

The lines of people at the spring are especially disruptive for schoolgoing kids like 14-year-old Derick (pictured above). "During [the] dry season, we are asked to carry water to school, and our spring is located on the way to school. Most of the time, I will [be] late because community members are always at the spring at six a.m., and you need to queue up, and this has been my greatest challenge."

A better-protected spring will not only help community members improve their health, but it will also allow their schedules to regain a level of normalcy. With more time and energy, who knows what the people of Chiliva could do?

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 training, we work closely with both community leaders and the local government. 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.

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, 2024: Chiliva Community Spring Protection Complete!

Chiliva Community now has access to clean water! Thanks to your donation, we transformed their spring into a flowing source of naturally filtered water. We also installed a chlorine dispenser to provide added protection and 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, our spring discharge speed had reduced because of poor workmanship done, so a lot of time was spent at the water point, and this resulted [in] conflict at the water point, but now we shall spend very little time because the spring has two pipes with good discharge speed. Since there will be no time wasting, peace will be restored in our village because community members will be busy with other duties that will help them improve their health and sanitation standards," said 52-year-old Violet Omuto.

Violet at the spring.

Children were just as excited as adults about the new water point.

"I will be able to wash my uniform several times per week because we now have plenty of water, which is easily accessible. My academic performance will improve because I will spend very little time to get water and have time to do revision, which will result to better results at school," said 10-year-old Ann M.

Ann collecting water.

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 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 truck 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 thick plastic, wire mesh, concrete, and waterproof cement.

Beginning construction.

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, which prevents cross-contamination.

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 the clay is in short supply) and placed it at an incline to ensure water flows in the right direction.

Setting the discharge pipes.

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.

Backfilling the reservoir box above the spring.

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 close all other exits to force water through only the discharge pipe.

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 thick plastic 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. 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 completed spring.

The 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.

Community members celebrate clean water access.

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 families and friends.

When the day arrived, facilitators Stella Inganji and Jemmimah Khasoa deployed to the site to lead the event. 24 people attended the training, including 21 women and three men. We held the training under a tree at a community member's homestead.

We covered several topics, including community participation in the project; leadership and governance; personal, dental, and environmental hygiene; water handling and treatment; spring maintenance; the importance of primary health care and disease prevention; family planning; soapmaking; how to make and use handwashing stations; and the ten steps of handwashing.

Community members learning how to make soap.

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.

Spring maintenance and management was the most memorable topic. The community members expressed they had suffered for a long time due to their unprotected water point. During the topic, they actively participated and concentrated on learning how to keep their water point in good condition so they would not experience the same issues in the future.

The training participants.

"They made rules that will govern their water point functions and suggested possible penalties in case one breaks the rules. Finally, they came up with a duty rooster on how they will ensure the spring is always clean and functional throughout," shared field officer Stella Inganji.

Jane (black shirt) carrying water from the newly protected spring.

"There is so much that I have learned during the training session. [I] have just realized that [I] am the cause of my poor health condition in many areas. [For] things like dental hygiene, I haven't been consistent in brushing them, and now I understand why I normally have toothaches with no permanent solution. So [I] am very grateful for the positive information, and hopefully [I] am going to educate others too," said 45-year-old farmer and water committee chairperson Jane Kavula.


This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our in-country teams, and the community members. 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 and there is guaranteed public access in the future. 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 Kenya, Uganda, and Sierra Leone, we're working toward complete coverage. That means 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!

December, 2023: Chiliva Community Spring Protection Underway!

The lack of adequate water in Chiliva Community costs people time, energy, and health every single day. Clean water scarcity contributes to community instability and diminishes individuals’ personal progress.

But thanks to your recent generosity, things will soon improve here. We are now working to install a reliable water point and improve hygiene standards. We look forward to sharing inspiring news in the near future!

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!


Project Sponsor - Milliman Intelliscript