Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 238 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/10/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

The 238 people in Shilalunga all vie to be among the first in line at the spring each morning. This is the only way to ensure their water is free of mud, sediment, and green algae from the spring's shallow bottom. But no matter how clear the water is, the water from an unprotected source is still contaminated.

"Cases of water-related diseases are normal in this community," said Teresina Oremo, a 69-year-old farmer from the community (shown in the above photo). "We have spent a lot of money treating these diseases without any success."

Interviewees from the community all said they had been infected with typhoid at one point or another.

Unfortunately, the lack of clean water is just another hardship for Shilalunga's people. Poverty and illiteracy have contributed to a sweeping epidemic of alcoholism amongst the community members, which inhibits them from seeking better opportunities.

Although 12-year-old Eugene M. attends school, the constant water crisis means he is often absent. He is shown in the photo below on his family's farm.

"We spend so much time whenever we go to fetch water from the spring," Eugene said. "We spend a lot of school time fetching water, leading to poor academic performance."

With clean water, hope can be restored to Shilalunga's people and give them the time and energy they need to lead happy, healthy lives.

What We Can Do:

Spring Protection

Protecting the spring will help provide access to cleaner and safer water and reduce the time people have to spend to fetch it. Construction will keep surface runoff and other contaminants out of the water. With the community’s high involvement in the process, there should be a good sense of responsibility and ownership for the new clean water source.

Fetching water is a task predominantly carried out by women and young girls. Protecting the spring and offering training and support will, therefore, help empower the female members of the community by freeing up more of their time and energy to engage and invest in income-generating activities and their education.

Training on Health, Hygiene, and More

To hold trainings during the pandemic, we work closely with both community leaders and the local government to approve small groups to attend training. We ask community leaders to invite a select yet representative group of people to attend training who will then act as ambassadors to the rest of the community to share what they learn. We also communicate our expectations of physical distancing and wearing masks for all who choose to attend.

The training will focus on improved hygiene, health, and sanitation habits in this community. We will also have a dedicated session on COVID-19 symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention best practices.

With the community’s input, we will identify key leverage points where they can alter their practices at the personal, household, and community levels to affect change. This training will help to ensure participants have the knowledge they need about healthy practices and their importance to make the most of their water point as soon as water is flowing.

Our team of facilitators will use a variety of methods to train community members. Some of these methods include participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation, asset-based community development, group discussions, handouts, and demonstrations at the spring.

One of the most important issues we plan to cover is the handling, storage, and treatment of water. Having a clean water source will be extremely helpful, but it is useless if water gets contaminated by the time it is consumed. We and the community strongly believe that all of these components will work together to improve living standards here, which will help to unlock the potential for these community members to live better, healthier lives.

We will then conduct a small series of follow-up trainings before transitioning to our regularly scheduled support visits throughout the year.

Training will result in the formation of a water user committee, elected by their peers, that will oversee the operations and maintenance of the spring. The committee 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 channels. The fence will keep out destructive animals and unwanted waste, and the drainage will keep the area’s mosquito population at a minimum.

Project Updates

February, 2023: Shilalunga Community Spring Protection Complete!

Shilalunga Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Oremo Spring into a flowing source of naturally filtered water thanks to your donation. Our team also trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices. Together, these components will unlock the opportunity for community members to live better, healthier lives.

"Typhoid and other water-related illnesses got from consuming the open water will now be a thing of the past. We hope to put the money we were using for treatment into other productive areas," said 70-year-old farmer Teresia Oremo. "Quick access to water will improve our family's hygiene standards besides saving time used to fetch water. The time will be put into productive activities like farming and my business at the local market."

Teresia having a drink of water.

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

"With this new water point, fetching water will be easier and faster. No more wasting time on fetching water. We will also not miss school taking care of our sick parents because of consuming contaminated water," said 12-year-old Eugene M. "In the long run, this will positively impact my academic performance and my general growth and development."

Eugene at the spring.

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 down 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 lorry 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 from the spring's eye around the construction site. 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 tarp, 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.

If we place the discharge pipe too high above the spring's eye, backpressure 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 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 closed off all of the other exits to start forcing water through the discharge pipe only.

We filled up 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 a thick plastic tarp 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. Finally, 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.

The entire 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.

"In a small celebration headlined by the village elder, the community members sang in joy as they ululated at the water point. The new waterpoint was dedicated in prayer by the local pastor. After a short address by the village elder and the field officer, the attendants retreated for late lunch at one of the water users' homesteads," said field officer Elvia Afuya.

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 family and friends.

When the day arrived, facilitators Amos and Elvis deployed to the site to lead the event. 16 people attended the training, including six women and ten men. We held the training at the homestead of a community member.

We covered several topics, including community participation in the project, leadership and governance, personal and environmental hygiene, water handling and treatment, spring maintenance, dental hygiene, the ten steps of handwashing, disease prevention, and how to make and use handwashing stations.

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.

Trainer Elvis Afuya said, "Participants were surprisingly frank with their body hygiene practices. They willfully shared both good and bad practices they carry out at personal levels. This topic provided adequate fodder for discussion with an aim of learning and unlearning. While some practices came out as funny, the participants got a chance to learn how to correct whatever wasn’t [being] done correctly."

Oral hygiene session.

Our session on dental hygiene was popular.

"Participants confessed to using chew sticks to brush their teeth," Amos said. "After the discussion, they were more than willing to acquire toothbrushes and toothpaste to use for brushing. One of them noted that if they continued using sticks, they might exhaust trees in the near future, making participants burst into hearty laughter. The participants were also amazed to learn through the demonstration that they ought to brush their tongues, something most of the participants have not done since birth."


"I have learned a number of things that I believe will be instrumental to my hygiene and sanitation. With the toothbrush I have received, I will start brushing my teeth tomorrow, deploying the technique that I have learned today. I’m confident my dental hygiene will never be the same again," said 12-year-old Eugene M. (quoted earlier).


This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our in-country teams, and the community members themselves. 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. 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 our target areas, we’re working toward complete coverage of 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!

December, 2022: Shilalunga Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Shilalunga Community drains people’s time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know this community through the introduction and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation, and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with more good news!

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!

A Year Later: Savings Achieved!

April, 2024

A year ago, your generous donation helped the Shilalunga Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Lucitine. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shilalunga 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!

Lucitine Ingato, 27, recalled what life was like in the Shilalunga Community before her community's spring was protected last year.

"Getting water at this waterpoint was not easy. Accessibility was very bad because there was no staircase [or] discharge pipe. Everyone used to carry a scoop jug that could be used to [put] water in your jerrican. This took me a lot of time because [when] you would find children in the spring, the water would be dirty," Lucitine shared during her interview.

Collecting water is so much easier for Lucitine and the other community members in Shilalunga Community now.

"Right now, all the troubles of accessibility, scoop jug, and time wastage have been forgotten. I am able to plan and do my house chores on time and leave for my farm, where I get my daily bread. This is the greatest impact this water has made in my life," she expressed gratefully.

Having ready access to water from the spring has made a difference for Lucitine. It allows her to collect water with ease, no longer struggling to bend into an unprotected spring. She can live her life with more ease and save money and time!

"Some of the things this water point has enabled me to achieve is saving. Initially, I had to employ someone to help me get water from the spring as I work[ed] [on] my farm. Now [I] am able to work on my farm and get water any time of the day. This is because it is well sealed with a discharge pipe, so there is no worry of getting dirty water. The saving[s] that I have been able to make has enabled me to purchase four poultry birds, which is a great achievement," Lucitine concluded.

Thanks to your donation, Lucitine can now dedicate more time and energy to her farm since she no longer has to spend hours collecting water. With the tools provided, she can secure a better future for herself and her family.

Lucitine enjoying clean, flowing water!

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 Shilalunga 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 Shilalunga 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.


And 2 other fundraising page(s)
18 individual donor(s)