Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 175 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 07/09/2024

Project Features

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When the 175 community members of Wechinia banded together to protect their local spring, they had high hopes of reducing typhoid cases and shortening the lines of people waiting for water. But they didn't have the proper knowledge or materials, and unfortunately, neither of these goals has come true.

In 2018, community members approached a local council member to ask for help. The council member gave them "a few coins" to fix the spring. But there wasn't enough money to hire someone to do the job properly. So although the spring may look a little nicer now, it is not functioning well. Firstly, the water is still making people sick, with most community members reporting regular cases of typhoid.

But water has been making the people of Wechinia sick all their lives; they're used to it. So they're hoping a new spring construction will capture the spring's water more efficiently.

"The spring has [water] seepage from all sides, making the drawing point pathetic and dangerous," said our field officer, Betty.

Seeping water demonstrates that the spring box, which is meant to help channel the spring's water through carefully placed layers of rock, gravel, and soil to filter it, is not doing its job. When water isn't directed toward the discharge pipes, it finds other ways through and around any impediments. This slows the water's flow from the discharge pipes, lengthening the water-collection process and delaying essential everyday tasks.

Because acquiring water takes such a long time, people get less of it. Without water to do essential daily tasks, people’s normal routines are disrupted, and important things like working, maintaining a household, and going to school are challenging.

To try and combat the long lines at the water point, 58-year-old Rosemary Soita (shown above at the spring) continues to wake up earlier and earlier in an attempt to beat the crowds. "I was forced to change my daily schedule and give drawing water the first priority so that I could do other activities, being forced to wake up very early in the morning before other people to ensure that all my water containers are full by the time other people start coming to the spring," Rosemary said. "This has been risky because the spring is very bushy."

Because the spring is densely vegetated, and therefore isolated, Rosemary fears being attacked by strangers or snakes while out alone in the small hours of the morning.

"[I] am not comfortable when I see my grandmother struggling with the issue of getting water," said 16-year-old Christabale W. (pictured below). "At times, [I] am forced to be [at] the spring as late as eight p.m. just to ensure that there's water when I leave for school. By so doing, [I] am not able to do much academically."

"I believe if our spring will be protected, we shall spend very little time [at] the spring, and this will give me room to concentrate on my academic work," Christabale concluded.

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

August, 2023: Wechinia Community Spring Protection Complete!

Wechinia 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.

"This water will truly change our lives in many ways. We will no longer overcrowd at the water point as before because the level of water has increased since construction which means we will use less time to collect water. Also, we will have good health and fitness for our farm work activities," said 53-year-old farmer Florence Shamwama.

Florence happy about clean water!

"This water will make my work at home easy and faster because water will be available throughout. Secondly living next to the spring, I can now plant yam and sweet potatoes, which I will sell and have extra income," she concluded.

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

Dismus collecting clean water.

"I will have good health to assist my parents at home and also have time to play with my friend. Having water on time and being clean will make me attend school daily without failing, which will [help me] concentrate on my studies and become a doctor in [the] future," said 11-year-old Dismus K.

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.


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 pipe.

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

Backfilling with stones.

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.

Transplanting grass.

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.

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 and Jemmimah deployed to the site to lead the event. 23 people attended the training, including 15 women and eight men. We held the training next to the spring.

Learning proper hand washing techniques.

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.

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.

Learning how to make soap.

The session on water handling and treatment was received well by participants. "During training, the participants were walked through [the] importance of water treatment, different types of treatments, common problems being encountered, and the whole process which entails collecting, treating and [the] distributing of water. The session was interactive and engaging as participants happily welcomed all new processes that will improve their health," shared field officer Stella Inganji.

The elected Water User Committee.

"The training has been good, and [I] am glad we attended in large numbers to be trained [about] all [the] new things. [I] am glad to learn how to make soap and [do] site maintenance. By [me] making my own soap [it] will ease the burden of buying bar soap every day. Also, [regarding] site maintenance [I] am going to make sure our spring becomes the best and maintain [its] cleanliness as taught," said 43-year-old farmer Oliver Kulecho.


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!

June, 2023: Wechinia Community Spring Protection Underway!

The lack of adequate water in the Wechinia 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 - PKS The Harvest