Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 200 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2024

Functionality Status:  Functional

Project Features

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Community Profile

200 people in the Shipala Community rely on an unsafe and unprotected spring for their water needs. It is an open hole where community members must reach into the contaminated water and lug their heavy buckets back up. The water is downstream from farm animals, and frogs and other wildlife are often seen in the water. The road to this spring becomes impassable to motorists during the rainy season, making collecting water even more arduous.

12-year-old Emmanuel (shown below) shared the burdensome process of collecting water. "When we come to fetch water, we find it dirty. It takes a lot of time to draw water; sometimes, I waste a lot of time waiting for it to clear up." Every time someone takes their turn to draw water, the water gets cloudier and cloudier. Community members waste valuable time waiting in line and for some sediment to subside.

The unprotected spring is the primary water source for the people of the Shipala. They must travel even further to a neighboring community's spring if that becomes too contaminated. The nearby community's spring is protected, but distance isn't the only barrier. It sits on a community member's property, and this landowner is known for charging people money and chasing them away if they can't pay.

Farmer Elizabeth Khasoa (shown below) shared, "When I fail to get water very early in the morning and fetch [at] just any other time when I use it to cook tea, the color of the tea is not pleasant. This makes me go [to] the protected spring, which is a distance from here, and sometimes we are chased away because the owner wants money."

Without clean water, life in the Shipala Community is relentlessly burdensome. Community members are tired of being forced to use unsafe water, ultimately making them ill. People hope for a day when the time they waste finding and collecting water can be redeemed for other fruitful activities.

Protecting the Shipala Community Spring can empower people like Emmanuel and Elizabeth to prioritize their well-being. They'll have more time and energy to invest in building a brighter tomorrow without worrying about water.

The Proposed Solution, Determined Together...

At The Water Project, everyone has a part in conversations and solutions. We operate in transparency, believing it benefits everyone. We expect reliability from one another as well as our water solutions. Everyone involved makes this possible through hard work and dedication.

In a joint discovery process, community members determine their most advantageous water solution alongside our technical experts. Read more specifics about this solution on the What We're Building tab of this project page. Then, community members lend their support by collecting needed construction materials (sometimes for months ahead of time!), providing labor alongside our artisans, sheltering and feeding the builders, and supplying additional resources.

Water Access for Everyone

This water project is one piece in a large puzzle. In Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Uganda, we're working toward complete coverage of reliable, maintained water sources that guarantee public access now and in the future within a 30-minute round trip for each community, household, school, and health center. One day, we hope to report that this has been achieved!

Training on Health, Hygiene & More

With the community's input, we've identified topics where training will increase positive health outcomes at personal, household, and community levels. We'll coordinate with them to find the best training date. Some examples of what we train communities on are:

  • Improved hygiene, health, and sanitation habits
  • Safe water handling, storage & treatment
  • Disease prevention and proper handwashing
  • Income-generation
  • Community leadership, governance, & election of a water committee
  • Operation and maintenance of the water point

Chlorine Dispensers

Installing chlorine dispensers is an important piece of our spring protection projects. Protecting a spring provides community members with an improved water source, but it doesn’t prevent contamination once the water is collected and stored. For example, if the water is clean and the container is dirty, the water will become contaminated.

We ensure that each chlorine dispenser is filled with diluted chlorine on a consistent schedule so that people can add pre-measured drops to each container of water they collect. That way, community members can feel even more confident in the quality of their water.

Project Updates

May, 2024: Shipala Community Spring Protection Complete!

Shipala 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 this was an open water source, which was open to contamination resulting to acquiring of water-related diseases, making us spend a lot in the treatment. Now that it is of high standard and highly protected, such diseases will be a story of the past. My family and I will enjoy fetching and using clean, safe water for use and consumption. Lastly, there shall be no more quarrels regarding people scooping water, leaving it dirty for others because this is now a well-protected spring with a fitted discharge pipe," said 29-year-old farmer and chairman of the water user committee Kevin Mulati.

Kevin at the protected spring.

Kevin continued, "The clean water improves our health and [the] well-being of our children. Good health comes with peace of mind which would make our children study better to attain their long-term career aspirations. Besides, the time initially wasted in looking for clean water can now be re-invested in activities aimed at making our lives better."

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

"With closer access to clean water, my parents will not have to spend much time and energy traveling long distances to fetch water. This could free up time for other activities such as work or spending time with family," said 12-year-old Emmanuel.

Emmanuel is happy for clean water!

"With access to clean water, I'll [be] less likely [to] fall sick due to waterborne diseases, allowing me to attend school regularly and stay focused [on] my studies," Emmanuel concluded.

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.

Start of the work to protect the spring.

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.

Setting the discharge pipe.

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.

Laying the tiles.

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 the reservoir box.

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 and fencing the spring area to protect it.

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, Amos and Mildred deployed to the site to lead the event. 11 people attended the training, including 8 women and 3 men.

Learning how to make soap.

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.

Participants take notes during the training.

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 about spring maintenance.

"The soap-making process elicited the most interesting discussion. Many community members were intrigued by the idea of being able to create their own soap [in] real-time using reagents. We had lively discussions about different methods or procedures and participants shared their own experiences and knowledge of traditional soap-making practices. It was memorable to see the enthusiasm and eagerness of everyone to learn this practical skill that could greatly improve hygiene practices in their households and even act as a source of income to them," said our Field Officer Mildred Mboha.


"The most interesting topic was water hygiene. Having served as a chlorine promoter for quite some time, when the topic was introduced, it got my attention because I have been looking forward to a team which could impart knowledge to my community regarding how chlorine can best be used in regard to the quantity, other methods of water treatment, and also, proper ways of handling water. So this stood out to be the most interesting topic," shared Elizabeth Mulati, a 70-year-old farmer, water user committee secretary, and the community's self-appointed promoter of chlorine use.

"Given their supportive nature and good reception, this group will definitely put into practice whatever they have learned and take good care of the waterpoint to help many generations to come," said Mildred.


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!

March, 2024: Shipala Community Spring Protection Underway!

The lack of adequate water in Shipala 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 - Imago Dei Community