Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 210 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2024

Functionality Status:  Functional

Project Features

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Community Profile

The 210 people of Ikoli struggle to access sufficient water to meet their daily water needs. Without clean water, their resources are being consumed with treating water-related illnesses that would be preventable if their source were protected.

"Shibutso Spring is approximately 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the main road. The water source is open to contamination since it's broken, allowing runoff water all over the backfill area and the drawing point. Additionally, the spring's accessibility has become a major concern, especially for small children and elderly people. Accessing the water point is hard because the stairs are broken, and the path leading to the drawing point is slippery," said field officer Joyce Naliaka, describing the spring's poor condition.

Joyce continued, "Being the main and alternative source that is dependable to a huge population in this community, the water source is in a pathetic condition that needs urgent attention to curb the spread of water-related illnesses. According to members of [the] Ikoli Community, many cases of waterborne diseases have been reported in the past few weeks after using water from the spring."

"Personally, I've been forced to seek medical attention at least three times as a result of this water crisis. The situation not only stuck with me but also affected all the members of my household. The last episode [was] a month ago, which happened to my toddler. As a result of this, I would appreciate as a community to be able to access not just safe drinking water but one which will be able to cater for every household in this place," said 41-year-old farmer Pamela Nanzala, shown below.

Sadly, Pamela's young child is not the only child suffering in Ikoli as a result of drinking unsafe water. For the older children, being ill often means they miss school and lose valuable learning time they need to equip them for the future.

"On my part, I've been forced mostly to visit hospitals due to contracting water-related illnesses. This is affecting my output in class, which has largely impacted my grades. Therefore, a future where I will no longer be forced to choose between my education and clean water would be very much appreciated," said 9-year-old Brian M.

"It's their plea that if anything could be done to upgrade the water source, then it would really help them avoid devoting additional time and resources to seeking medical assistance or taking preventive measures that impact their daily routines," concluded Joyce.

The protection of the spring will enable community members like Pamela and Brian to focus on staying healthy and improving their daily lives. Children long for the opportunity to put their education first and to put their efforts into building a better future for themselves, but this is only possible with access to safe 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: Ikoli Community Spring Protection Complete!

Ikoli 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.

"The access to this waterpoint will improve my children's performance at school because they will be using minimal time in collecting water, giving them extra time to study. As for me, easy accessibility will give me ample time to attend to my chaos at home," said 42-year-old farmer Pamela Omukoko.

Pamela collecting water.

"This waterpoint will help me get income for my family because being able to easily access this water will help me generate an income by planting vegetables throughout the year, which will enable me [to] sell them to our nearby market," continued Pamela.

When we asked Pamela what effect she believes having access to clean water will have on her children, she said, "It will bring [a] difference in their lives because they will be able to have enough time to go and play with others, and it will also give them ample time to study because of easy access of this water, thus improving on their performance.

Children were just as excited as adults about the new waterpoint.

Jason collecting water.

"This new waterpoint will help me have enough time with my teachers, thus having ample time [for them] to teach me. For my parents, this waterpoint will help [them] in irrigating their vegetables even during [the] dry season [which] will help them to generate income at the end of the day, which will help them to pay my school fees," said 8-year-old Jason.

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.

Mixing cement.

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.

Digging 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.

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.

Plastering the spring walls.

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 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 near the spring.

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 Joyce Naliaka, Mercy Wamalwa, Faith Muthama, and Joy Ongeri deployed to the site to lead the event. Twenty-four people attended the training, including 15 women and nine 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.

Learning proper 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 to make soap.

A memorable topic during the training was how to maintain proper personal hygiene. The participants asked many questions, which led to an interesting discussion about how often people should bathe and wash their bed linens.

"The participants laughed when the trainer explained to them how to scrub their body while bathing and how they were supposed to brush their teeth because they thought that only children are supposed to be taught how to bathe and brush their teeth, but [in] the end, they adopted the new way of taking [a] bath and brush their teeth," shared Field Officer Mercy Wamalwa.

Lynette at the spring.

Lynette Sisiche, a training participant, shared her thoughts about the training. "I have learned that it is good to wash vegetables before cutting and to wash meat before cooking it. Also, hygiene training will help me maintain good health, thus increasing [my] lifespan and making this community a better place to live."


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: Ikoli Community Spring Protection Underway!

The lack of adequate water in Ikoli 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)