Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 175 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2024

Functionality Status:  Functional

Project Features

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For the 175 people that live in Muchemo Community, finding water is not the issue. However, the struggle to collect their water and trust they won't become ill by consuming it is another matter.

"The main challenge facing this water point is contamination. This is because it is open to all sources of contaminants. Leaves, animal and bird droppings, running water, and even users because they use a jug to scoop water. The area is very pathetic and not pleasing at all. It is muddy and swampy, thus making it unfavorable for drinking water to be fetched," said field officer Jemmimah Kasoha.

Water contamination becomes a real issue for community members when they suffer from water-related illnesses like frequent stomach aches, diarrhea, and cases of typhoid that steal their health, energy, and resources.

But there are other issues facing those who rely on this water point.

Since the pool of water is so small and shallow, it takes a long time for people to slowly scoop the water and collect it into larger water containers. This causes long queues of people waiting their turn to collect water instead of doing other productive things.

"The current water situation has affected me personally in terms of development. I lose more time [in the] morning hours waiting to get water. This is the time [I] am needed for casual labor, and when I delay, it means I lose the job. What I do to solve this is to shift times of fetching water," said 43-year-old community member Violet Ndombi, shown above scooping water at the spring.

Another significant challenge is the steep hill that must be traversed to access the water point. The community did their best to carve rustic stairs into the muddy hill to help ease the risk of falling and injuring yourself as you climb up or down the hill, but when they are hauling full water jugs, which on average weigh nearly 40 lbs each the slippery slope often proves to be too much.

"This situation of having open water has made me develop chest problems. This is because of the steep slope without staircases. Accessing water is so difficult specifically during [the] rainy season," said 13-year-old Linet I. (shown below)

With the installation of stairs and proper protection of the spring, individuals like Violet and Linet can have access to clean water with safety and ease. This will give them more time to concentrate on other essential tasks without worrying about their water source.

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

June, 2024: Muchemo Community Spring Protection Complete!

Muchemo 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.


"With the help of [an] additional staircase, the waterpoint will now be accessible for me, and my grandchild even during the rainy seasons. Before construction, the terrain was steep and slippery and was very difficult to access during the rainy season. Also, the long queues that I used to witness before, will no longer be a challenge since water is now accessible through the pipe," said 42-year-old farmer Judith Agiza.


"My son, Junior, will now enjoy a healthy life as a result of clean, and safe water, therefore he will be able to concentrate on his studies and work towards his dream of becoming a doctor," she continued.

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

14-year-old Denis was eager to share his dreams as well. "I will be drinking safe water, and I will not be experiencing stomachaches as a result of drinking dirty water like before. That will then help me concentrate on my studies and fulfill the dream of becoming a pilot when I grow up."


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.

Community members gathering materials.

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.

Excavating the site.

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.

Laying the foundation.

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.

Stone pitching.

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 the reservoir.

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.

Grass planting.

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.

The spring is complete!

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 Gladys, Catherine, and Wilson deployed to the site to lead the event. 26 people attended the training, including 15 women and 11 men.

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.

Field officer Gladys Chepkorir described how eager the community was. "We found the participants already seated at the training venue and that was a clear indication that they were ready for the training. Also during the training, they participated by contributing to the discussions and asking questions for clarity. Even though the training hours were long, they sacrificed their lunchtime to listen to the remaining training session this clearly showed that they were enthusiastic and committed to the training."

Farmer Atnas Monjela shared his favorite topic, "[Soapmaking] was an interesting topic to me because having been buying a liquid soap, it was a great opportunity for me to know the reagents used for soapmaking, where to get the reagents and the entire soapmaking process. Personally, I am now able to make soap and to sell to others too which in turn will be a source of income [for] my household.


"My community members have now learned about the new skills for example how to make a tippy tap, ten steps of handwashing, and how to make a liquid soap. The skills they had no idea about. This will go a long way in improving the hygiene standards in my community," Atnas 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!

June, 2024: Muchemo Community Spring Protection Underway!

The lack of adequate water in the Muchemo 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!


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