Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 380 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/04/2024

Project Features

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The 380 community members of Mwikholo have thought of giving up on their water point, Olunyiriri Spring, but that would leave them worse off than they are now.

"Despite their efforts to keep the spring in good condition, the spring has experienced numerous recurrent problems, which can be attributed to the poor workmanship during its first protection attempt," our field officer, Elvis Afuya, said.

He continued: "Despite the community members' efforts to repair and maintain the spring, the spring has consistently broken down. Water frequently diverts [around the water spout], leaving community members with no access to water via the discharge pipe. The drawing area, despite numerous attempts to repair it, is in a dilapidated condition."

"We spend roughly 30 minutes lining up here to fetch a trip of water because of the slow discharge during diversion and due to the fact that the many community members come around at the same time. You send your child, and you have to follow up [on] why they are taking too long," said 43-year-old farmer Florence Ingana, seen above at the spring.

There is an alternative water point, a hand-dug well, but it is located on a community member's homestead, so access is limited. The collection method requires people to lower containers into the water, which is an infamous contamination route. In addition, the water in the well runs low during the dry season, leaving community members to depend solely on the spring.

The spring's high demand leads to overcrowding, especially during the rainy season when the spring is only accessible for a few hours a day because the area around it floods so badly. And when people have to wait so long for water, their daily schedules are negatively impacted, leaving vital tasks left undone.

"I spend a lot of time to fetch my three daily trips after school," said 8-year-old Mary L., shown above collecting water. "This has consistently denied me time to play with my fellow children after school. This also means I cannot do my assignments in the evening. With no electricity at home, I’m left to do it in the morning in a hurry. This has left a dent in my academic life."

With proper reconstruction of the spring, community members should be able to safely and quickly collect water whenever the need arises. And with hope restored in the community, who knows how things will improve for everyone?

What We Can Do:

Spring Reconstruction

Although the community attempted to protect this spring, it does not meet World Health Organization standards, which ensure that the water is protected from contamination and safe to access. Local expert artisans will remove the previous spring elements and correctly install new components to ensure the community’s access to clean, sufficient water.

Reconstruction by The Water Project artisans will ensure that this spring has all of the necessary components of a spring protection, which include:

  • Stairs to provide access during any season
  • Drainage channels to avert stagnant water
  • Fencing to prevent the spring box’s filtration layers from being compacted by people and animals
  • Correctly positioned discharge pipe(s) that allow(s) water-collection containers to sit beneath without human intervention
  • Cement floor with tiles that preclude structure erosion
  • Walls that channel water for proper drainage
  • A chlorine dispenser to treat water for added safety

Reconstructing 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. Reconstructing 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.

Project Updates

September, 2023: Mwikholo Community 3 Spring Protection Complete!

Mwikholo Community 3 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.

"Access to reliable, clean water will impact my life positively in many ways. I will have enough time to work on my farm [and] the animals will have water early in the morning. During the dry season, I will not lack vegetables because I will have water for irrigation. My children will help me get water for animals after school very fast and come back to do their assignments," said 58-year-old Farmer David Marula.

David (red shirt) and community members

"The goals that this water point will help me achieve include having African green leafy vegetables in all seasons," He concluded.

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

Brian M., 11, shared how the newly protected spring will enhance his life. "Access to clean water will impact my life positively in that I will have a bath daily. My personal hygiene will be very good, for I was taught the importance, and I have clean water."

Brian collecting water.

"I will help my grandfather to get water for the animals quickly and embark on my school work without being late. I will also help water vegetables during [the] dry season," Brian finished.

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.

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.

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 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 Jemmimah Khasoha and Victor Musemi deployed to the site to lead the event. 21 people attended the training, including 16 women and 5 men. We held the training at the community member's homestead, where the spring is located.

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.

A memorable topic was personal hygiene. This was important to the community members as the men in the training shared they rarely bathed. They were trying to save money by not buying as much soap and prioritizing it for women and children as they often bear the burden of water collection. Another topic that was crucial to the community members was income-generating activities. Some participants were currently unemployed, so they collaborated to find ways to earn an income by using the available resources.

"The training was so educational, and I must confess I will not remain the same. The most important topic that really left me thinking was income-generating activities," said Village Elder Agnes Mmbone, 58.

Agnes collecting water.

"My mind was fixed on one crop production which was not doing well, but my mind has [been] transformed. The resources God has given us, such as water, should not be taken for granted so [that] I will use it maximumly," she concluded.


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!

July, 2023: Mwikholo Community 3 Spring Protection Underway!

The lack of adequate water in Mwikholo 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!


1 individual donor(s)