Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 350 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2024

Functionality Status:  Functional

Project Features

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The 350 people of Ebulechia Community have access to a spring that was once protected but has become unsafe and unclean over time. People's attempts to fetch water leave them fighting crowds and exhausted since it is impossible to collect water quickly and efficiently. Worst of all, the water often makes them sick with illnesses like diarrhea, stomach issues, or typhoid.

The spring has no stairs, and the area around it becomes very slippery when it rains, making it hazardous to anyone attempting to collect water. Many community members are farmers by trade, so the time spent traveling to get water, navigating the awkward spring, and waiting in line takes away from their livelihood.

Children like nine-year-old Phillip W. (pictured below) are often tasked with fetching water.

Phillip shared, "Fetching water is a tiresome task. We live a little bit far from the spring, [and] my mother has made it a mandate that each one of us has to fetch water despite [their] age and gender. We usually fetch water early in the morning before going to school and in the evening after coming from school. Sometimes you find the water point is crowded; you have to queue for long hours. This wastes a lot of my time."

He continued, "The time I'm supposed to use for doing homework, [I] have to spend fetching water. This has made me lose focus in my education. If this water point [is] protected, I will be able to save some time and use it [for] studying and playing with friends."

Missing out on childhood activities is as great a detriment as missing school. Children not empowered through development and education may struggle to envision future goals. However, with no other water source options, the children of Ebulechia have no choice but to continue wasting their precious time collecting water from the overcrowded and contaminated spring.

22-year-old Farmer Diana Andayi (pictured below) shares her experience with the community's water crisis, "Getting water from this water point is a bit difficult. Access is a challenge, especially during the rainy season."

"You have to step in the stagnant water to fetch water. Some harmful worms live [in the water] that might harm you, especially when you are barefooted. The water is not that clean. It may appear clean by using the eyes, but when taken without treatment, it may cause diseases like diarrhea, typhoid, and stomachache problems," Diana continued.

Protecting the community's spring will enable people like Phillip and Diana to focus on important things like school and work instead of spending their time collecting unsafe water. Access to clean water for Phillip means he can get back some time to enjoy his childhood. And clean water for Diana means she can work to grow her farm without fear of falling ill. Though these are just two people in Ebulechia, these problems and more will continue to affect all of them until their water crisis is solved.

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

April, 2024: Ebulechia Community Spring Protection Complete!

Ebulechia 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.

Farmer Diana Makokha had much to say about their new spring! "Accessing clean water has been made easier for us. We will be able to enjoy perfect health because of using clean water. When we have good health as a family, we will be able to focus on other activities like farming. Children will be able to focus more on their hobbies."

Diana enjoying clean water!

"With this waterpoint, I will be able to plant vegetables throughout the year. During the dry spell, I will be able to water my vegetables. This will ensure that I supply vegetables in the market throughout the year. This will earn me a good income. I will stop depending on my husband [for] everything. I will be able to help him out with bills," Diana continued.

Diana was excited not only for the possibilities this newly protected spring brought to her life but also for future generations. "This [water]point has been made in such a way to last longer. It helps improve the health of our children. If children live a healthy life, they are able to live for long. This will reduce the mortality rate among children. The grandchildren to come will also be able to enjoy clean and safe water."

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

9-year-old Brian shared, "Fetching water has now been easier for us. [I] am no longer scared of going to fetch water. The water point looks beautiful with the stairs, unlike before. The water at the spring has increased compared to before the construction of this spring. This will enable me to spend [less] hours fetching water and the rest of my time playing and studying."

Brian (back right) at the spring with friends.

With clean water, Brian's health will be less at risk. "This new waterpoint will help my parents save the money they used on medication and use it [for] other things like paying off our school fees and improving their business. Before, they used to spend a lot of money buying drugs and sometimes taking us to hospitals because of falling sick more often. Now that [I] have clean water, I know we will fall sick less often."

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 gather needed supplies.

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 it. These help 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.

Community members planting 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. They were over the moon when the spring was officially handed over to them! The joy could be seen on their faces and was expressed through the songs they sang. There were two volunteers who promised to take care of the spring and clean it daily.

Spring protection is complete!

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 Adelaide Nasimiyu, Joyce Naliaka, Mercy Wamalwa, and Faith Muthama deployed to the site to lead the event. 20 people attended the training, including 15 women and five men. Attendance was lower than expected due to a community funeral, but that didn't stop this group from learning.

Dental hygiene lesson.

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.

Soapmaking lesson.

"Today, I learned that some of the common illnesses [are] caused by us when handling food. Food is very important, and it shouldn't be handled carelessly. Food can cause poisoning to all the members of the family if not properly handled. It was interesting to learn that leftover food that is not properly cooked, it's better to dispose [of] it than eat it. Food should be prepared in a clean environment and ensure that your hands are clean before handling food," shared 50-year-old farmer Farida Popai.

Farida is excited about their newly protected spring.

"This training has made me realize we do not take hygiene practices seriously, like handwashing. We wash our hands when we are about to have our meal. The rest of [time], we assume our hands are clean. We snack even without washing our hands. We get sick, then blame it on witchcraft, and it's our fault," 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!

February, 2024: Ebulechia Community Spring Protection Underway!

The lack of adequate water in Ebulechia 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 with the help of community members. 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)