Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 210 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 07/05/2023

Project Features

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Community Profile

This project is a part of our shared program with Western Water and Sanitation Forum (WEWASAFO). Our team is pleased to directly share the below report (edited for clarity, as needed).

Welcome to the Community

Arriving in Matsakha, one is met by heavy trucks taking the sugarcane harvested from the farms to Butali Sugar Factory. Many people within this community are sugarcane farmers, and their days start as early as 5am with sugarcane cutting. Women wake up even earlier than the men to prepare breakfast for them before they leave.

The women start streaming to the spring by 6am to fetch water for the rest of the day's cleaning and cooking. After preparing breakfast, women join their men on the sugarcane farms to cultivate and pick up the sugarcane behind the cutters. At the same time, children are seen carrying their school bags as they rush to school. Everyone starts arriving back home around 5pm. As they arrive, the women and children pick up their water containers and rush to the spring to fetch water for dinner and bathing. Young men are also seen on the path to the spring, taking their animals for watering.

Water Situation

Kombwa Spring is central to Matsakha Community, but its water is dirty. The community has been pulled along for years, with many politicians visiting and promising clean water if they're elected. Traces of local materials collected and delivered to the spring site were seen during our own visit, revealing this history of unfulfilled promises.

The nearest clean water source is Matasha Mwanje Spring, which is about 1.5 kilometers away. But community members don't always have that time, and must settle for the dirty water at home. This water is often used for drinking, cooking, and cleaning.

Mr. Kefa Manyasa said, "Am telling the greatest problem we face in this comunity is accessing safe and clean water. We have really been affected, especially our children who have had repeated cases of waterborne diaseases outbreak such as typhoid and diarrhea. I personally spent 3,500 shillings last month treating my younger son Jihn, age four. We shall really be grateful if we can get a sponsor!"

Sanitation Situation

Half of households in Matsakha have pit latrines. Most are made from mud in the traditional way, which makes them difficult to clean. These are also impossible to use during heavy rains that makes the dirt floor slippery. Half of them are currently posing danger to their users, with unstable floors and pits that are almost full. A small handful of latrines have concrete sanitation platforms like the ones we install, which are safest to use and easiest to clean. But the other half of families don't have access to a pit, and instead relieve themselves in the privacy of bushes. This waste is then spread around the community by flies, animals, and rainwater.

We saw a couple hand-washing stations during our visit to the community, but none of them had a cleaning agent like soap or ash. Though no hand-washing stations, many families have dish racks and clotheslines to help them safely dry belongings up off the ground.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

Community members will attend hygiene and sanitation training for at least two days. This training will ensure participants are no longer ignorant about healthy practices and their importance. The facilitator plans to use PHAST (Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation), CLTS (Community-Led Total Sanitation), ABCD (Asset-Based Community Development), group discussions, handouts, and demonstrations at the spring.

Training will also result in the formation of a committee that will oversee operations and maintenance at the spring. They will enforce proper behavior around the spring and delegate tasks that will help preserve the site, such as building a fence and digging proper drainage.

Plans: Sanitation Platforms

On the final day of training, participants will select five families that should benefit from new latrine floors.

Training will also inform the community and selected families on what they need to contribute to make this project a success. They must mobilize locally available materials, such as bricks, clean sand, hardcore, and ballast. The five families must prepare by sinking a pit for the sanitation platforms to be placed over. All community members must work together to make sure that accommodations and food are always provided for the work teams.

Plans: Spring Protection

Construction will keep surface runoff and other contaminants out of the water, which means the water will be safe, clean, and adequate.

Fetching water is predominantly a female role, done by both women and young girls. Protecting the spring and offering training and support will therefore help empower the female members of the community by giving them more time and efforts to engage and invest in income-generating activities.

Project Updates

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Matsakha Community, Kombwa Spring

Our teams are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us in our fight against the virus while maintaining access to clean, reliable water.

We are carrying out awareness and prevention trainings on the virus in every community we serve. Very often, our teams are the first (and only) to bring news and information of the virus to rural communities like Matsakha, Kenya.

We trained more than 11 people on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19. Before there were any reported cases in the area, we worked with trusted community leaders and the Water User Committee to gather community members for the training.

We covered essential hygiene lessons:

- Demonstrations on how to build a simple handwashing station

- Proper handwashing technique

- The importance of using soap and clean water for handwashing

- Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces including at the water point.

We covered COVID-19-specific guidance in line with national and international standards:

- Information on the symptoms and transmission routes of COVID-19

- What social distancing is and how to practice it

- How to cough into an elbow

- Alternative ways to greet people without handshakes, fist bumps, etc.

- How to make and properly wear a facemask.

During training, we installed a new handwashing station with soap near the community’s water point, along with a sign with reminders of what we covered.

Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we also dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the disease and provide extra information where needed.

We continue to stay in touch with this community as the pandemic progresses. We want to ensure their water point remains functional and their community stays informed about the virus.

Water access, sanitation, and hygiene are at the crux of disease prevention. You can directly support our work on the frontlines of COVID-19 prevention in all of the communities we serve while maintaining their access to safe, clean, and reliable water.

December, 2018: A Year Later: Matsakha Community, Kombwa Spring

A year ago, your generous donation enabled us to protect Kombwa Spring for Matsakha Community in Kenya. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow our local teams to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the water project over time. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories. Read more...

March, 2018: Matsakha Community Project Complete

Kombwa Spring in Matsakha Community, Kenya is now a protected, clean source of water thanks to your donation. The spring is protected from contamination, five sanitation platforms have been provided for the community, and training has been given in sanitation and hygiene. Imagine the changes that all of these resources are going to bring for these residents! You made it happen!  Now, want to do a bit more? Join our team of monthly donors and help us maintain this spring protection and many other projects.

Project Result: New Knowledge

We worked through an already established leadership committee to plan hygiene and sanitation training; the same leadership recently elected by the community to manage Kombwa Spring. Committee members conferred with the entire community to pick the best time and place for training sessions. We ended up meeting outside at Kombwa Farm, where there was plenty of cool shade and comfortable grass.  There was a total of 16 participants already eagerly waiting for the trainers!

The field officer clearly communicated the areas of needed improvement for Matsakha, which included the following topics and more:

– Hand-washing and personal hygiene

– Handling water and food hygienically

– Safe waste disposal

– Water treatment

Construction at the spring had just finished, and so the entire group walked over there for hands-on demonstrations. They learned how to properly use, manage, and maintain Kombwa Spring. More importantly, they learned how to fetch, handle, and store clean water so as to ensure it's still clean at the time of consumption.

Illustrations of daily activities around the community helped participants make connections; how can germs spread from one to the other? How do we build barriers between integral activities. For example, one should always wash their hands after using the latrine and before handling food.

"My name is Shem Wafula. I am the landowner of Kombwa Water Spring. I am very happy to have had this training. I am enlightened; water is life, and often people struggle to get access to it but what is equally important is to preserve and manage it well to make clean water accessible to every member of the community. In the past, we were ignorant on the routes of contamination but now am enlightened that washing hands with soap reduces the rate of diseases!"

Mr. Shem Wafula

Project Result: Sanitation Platforms

All five sanitation platforms have been installed. These five families are happy about this milestone of having a private latrine all their own, and are optimistic that there will be much less open defecation. We are continuing to encourage families to finish building walls and roofs over their new latrine floors.

Project Result: Spring Protection

Community members provided all locally available construction materials, e.g bricks, wheelbarrows of clean sand, wheelbarrows of ballast, fencing poles and hard core (crushed rock and gravel). A huge number of men and women showed up at the spring to learn about what local materials the artisan would need to supplement the concrete he brought! They were all so eager to see their area of Matsakha receive clean water. Accommodations and meals were provided for the artisan, and we asked a few people to volunteer their time and strength to help the artisan with manual labor.

A cart dropping off stones for the workers to use.

The spring area was excavated to create space for setting the foundation of polyethylene, wire mesh and concrete. During this hard work, the community stumbled upon a "strange animal." Nobody was quite sure what it actually was:

While turtles are kept as pets in some countries, they're not as well-known in Kenya!

After the base had been set, both wing walls and the headwall were set in place using brickwork. The discharge pipe was fixed low in place through the head wall to direct the water from the reservoir to the drawing area.

As the wing walls and head wall were curing, the stairs were set and the tiles were fixed directly below the discharge pipe. This reduces the erosive force of the falling water and beautifies the spring. The process of plastering the head wall and wing walls on both sides reinforces the brickwork and prevents water from the reservoir from seeping through the walls and allows pressure to build in the collection box to push water up through the discharge pipe.

Lastly, the base of the spring was plastered and the collection box was cleaned. The source area was filled up with clean hardcore and covered with a polyethylene membrane to eliminate any potential sources of contamination.

Many women from this community practically camped by the spring as the artisan put the finishing touches on his work. Doricus Mulunda, 38, was one of the women who unabashedly rejoiced at the sight of clean water pouring out of the discharge pipe. As soon as the water began to flow, Doricus ran toward the spring with her arms raised, singing and dancing that "God has given us water, so nothing is impossible!" Doricus and others held their hands under the water, and we were grateful to share that moment of celebration with them.

December, 2017: Matsakha Community Project Underway

Matsakha Community will soon have a clean, safe source of water thanks to your donation. Community members have been drinking contaminated water from Kombwa Spring, and often suffer from waterborne diseases. Our partner conducted a survey of the area and deemed it necessary to protect the spring, build new sanitation platforms (safe, easy-to-clean concrete floors for latrines), and conduct sanitation and hygiene training. Thanks to your generosity, waterborne disease will no longer be a challenge for the families drinking the spring’s water. We look forward to sharing more details with you as they come! But for now, please take some time to check out the report containing community information, pictures, and maps.

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.

A Year Later: Matsakha Community, Kombwa Spring

December, 2018

The spring protection helped Kefa Kombwa save money over the past year and start a poultry business that will help generate an income for his family.

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Matsakha A Community.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Matsakha A Community maintain access to safe, reliable water. Together, they keep The Water Promise.

We’re confident you'll love joining this world-changing group committed to sustainability!

A year ago, your generous donation enabled us to protect Kombwa Spring for Matsakha Community in Kenya. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow our local teams to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the water project over time. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – and we’re excited to share this one from local team member Karen Maruti with you.

Matsakha Community has not been the same since the project done a year ago.

During our first visits to the community before the project, few people had dish racks or clotheslines and no homes had handwashing stations near their toilets. We recently visited the community and immediately noticed that there are great improvements in terms of hygiene. A number of people had constructed the dish racks, clotheslines, and numerous handwashing stations near the toilets. The homes also looked well kept with cut grass, cleared brush, and clean compounds.

The children had smiles on their faces as we passed them.

This tremendous change is a result of the spring protection and the accompanying hygiene and sanitation training completed here. We heard testimonies of change from people like Kefa Kombwa.

Kefa Kombwa

I was born in this community and for the last 38 years have been drinking this water that was contaminated. I suffered constantly from infections as a result of drinking the contaminated water. Since this spring was protected, I have seen a great difference in my life. I have not visited the health center since last year and have saved a lot of money that I previously spent on medicines to treat illnesses.

This year I have started a poultry project that will go a long way in improving my livelihood. The women and children, on the other hand, are great beneficiaries as their health has also improved. There are reduced rates of typhoid and bacteria infections amongst the children due to this spring protection.

Protection of the spring is only one step along the journey toward sustainable access to clean water. The Water Project is committed to consistent monitoring of each water source. Our monitoring and evaluation program, made possible by donors like you, allows us to maintain our relationships with communities by visiting up to 4 times each year to ensure that the water points are safe and reliable.

This is just one of the many ways that we monitor projects and communicate with you. Additionally, you can always check the functionality status and our project map to see how all of our water points are performing, based on our consistent monitoring data.

One project is just a drop in the bucket towards ending the global water crisis, but the ripple effects of this project are truly astounding. This project in Matsakha is changing many lives.

Simon Kombwa and Kefa Kombwa

"Now with the safe, clean water I no longer miss school due to illness. I belief this will go a long way in improving my academic performance," said 13-year-old student Simon Kombwa.

This is only possible because of the web of support and trust built between The Water Project, our local teams, the community, and you. We are excited to stay in touch with this community and support their journey with safe water.

Read more about The Water Promise and how you can help.

Navigating through intense dry spells, performing preventative maintenance, conducting quality repairs when needed and continuing to assist community leaders to manage water points are all normal parts of keeping projects sustainable. The Water Promise community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Matsakha A Community maintain access to safe, reliable water.

We’d love for you to join this world-changing group committed to sustainability.

The most impactful way to continue your support of Matsakha A Community – and hundreds of other places just like this – is by joining our community of monthly givers.

Your monthly giving will help provide clean water, every month... keeping The Water Promise.


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