Shikhambi Community

Regional Program:
Western Kenya WaSH Program

Latitude 0.29
Longitude 34.74

400 Served

Project Status:

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Stories and 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

This unprotected spring is located in Shikhambi Village, Shieywe sub-location, Sichirai location, Shieywe Ward, Lurambi Constituency of Kakamega County. It serves 40 households with a total population of 400 people, out of which 150 are male and 250 are female.

This area is predominantly inhabited by the Butsotso sub-tribe of the Luhyia Community. However, other tribes also draw from Isabella Spring by virtue of having purchased land in the area. These people practice small-scale farming to make a living.

Most who live around Isabella Spring wake up very early to start working on their farms. They grow crops like maize, cassava, sweet potato, and other vegetables. Farmers have been very happy lately since the rainy season is benefiting their crops! Community members who do not practice agriculture try to sell their goods in the local market (bricks, baskets, etc.).

The landowner who the spring is named after, Isabella, visited a friend and was sharing about her community’s struggles with safe water scarcity. Her friend asked if she had ever heard of WEWASAFO and how they protect springs! On hearing this, Isabella immediately left for our office to ask for help. After visiting the community, we agreed that her community is in dire need of help.

Water Situation

This spring is open to contamination and thus predisposes its users to waterborne diseases such as typhoid, diarrhea, amoebas and malaria. “During rainfall, the overflow covers the spring and consequently makes the water dirty and affects the community members,” says Isabella. She elaborated further, saying that the spring is contaminated when some people urinate nearby. On one occasion, a person even defecated at the spring!

Locals use the spring’s water for drinking, farm irrigation during dry seasons, and household chores (cooking, cleaning, bathing, etc.). Though many boil the water before drinking, waterborne disease is still rampant.

Sanitation Situation

Sanitation and hygiene is also a challenge for this community. Many community members lack latrines, and the few who have them (under 25%) have allowed deterioration into very poor and pathetic conditions. The young and the old, in most cases, opt to relieve themselves in the bush and behind the houses. They believe this to be much safer than stepping on old, rickety boards suspended over a dark and dirty pit! Isabella confides that the person who sold her the piece of land does not have a pit latrine; instead they use the bushes. This is not only a serious health hazard to the family living there, but also to the community at large.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

Community members will attend hygiene and sanitation training for at least three 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.

Plans: Sanitation Platforms

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

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

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.

In addition, protecting the spring will ensure that the water is safe, adequate and secure. Construction will keep surface runoff and other contaminants out of the water. One of the residents shared that they feel “this is a God-given opportunity, and the idea of protecting Isabella Spring will solve their water problems!” The sanitation facilities and trainings will also enable, enlighten and build the capacity of the community so that they can take matters into their own hands.

Project Photos

Recent Project Updates

11/01/2017: A Year Later: Shikhambi Community

A year ago, generous donors helped build a spring protection and sanitation platforms for the Shikhambi Community surrounding Isabella Spring in Kenya. Because of these gifts and our monthly donors, partners can visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the actual water project. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – we’re excited to share this one from our partner, Rose Serete, with you.

The Water Project : 4570_yar_1

08/24/2016: Isabella Spring Protection Project Complete

We are excited to report that the project to protect Isabella Spring in Kenya is now complete. The spring is protected from contamination, a sanitation platform has been provided for a family, 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 help keep the water flowing! Join our team of monthly donors and help us maintain this well and many other projects.

We just updated the project page with the latest pictures, so make sure to open the “See Photos & Video” tab to enjoy!

Project Result: New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was held at Isabella’s homestead, the woman whom the spring is named after. The community members also chose Isabella to be the chairperson of a new committee formed to oversee and maintain the spring protection. Isabella became our contact person, so once informed of the training schedule, she began making house calls to ensure that there would be a good turnout. Isabella’s news of training was met with great excitement; her friends and neighbors all strongly believed that what they learned in this training could transform their lives. They were right!

Total attendance was 14, comprised of 12 women and two men (this is because women and children are seen as those primarily responsible for fetching water and doing household chores). These 14 community members were invited not only to be equipped with relevant health and hygiene skills, but to also form the water user committee with Isabella.

1 kenya4570 training

Topics included but were not limited to:

  • Community contribution and responsibilities
  • Leadership and governance
  • Group dynamics
  • Forming an effective water user committee for management and maintenance of the spring
  • Water pollution
  • Water-related diseases
  • Building disease transmission barriers
  • Proper handling of food and water
  • Importance of having and using a latrine

Once we finished training, the excitement was evident. All the participants were ready to dive right into spring protection construction, as well as promote good health and hygiene in the greater village. In fact, certain participants were given the title of “Community Health Worker,” and have chosen to adopt the responsibility of promoting and teaching health in the area. The water user committee also used one of the final sessions to draft a schedule for continued work to protect their water source, such as building a fence and digging more drainage.

The community is now equipped with the knowledge and skills to practice good hygiene. The community has already started practicing these in their day to day lives. We observed that the way women and children fetch water at the spring and how they transport it home has already improved – Water containers are clean and they cover what they can. A large number of people in Shikhambi Village have also constructed new sanitation facilities like pit latrines, dish racks, clotheslines, and bathing rooms.

2 kenya4570 training

Project Result: Sanitation Platforms

During training, the community had chosen five families to benefit from new sanitation platforms. In preparation, these families were expected to sink their own pits and gather materials for the latrine walls and roof. However, when our artisan arrived to help build the sanitation platform to cover the pit, only one family had completed the necessary preparations. This family was very excited about their new facilities, saying “I have for a long time longed for assistance to construct a decent pit latrine. I thank you for coming to my life at the hour of need! Now that I have my own latrine I will take good care of it.” The officers in charge of training and community engagement have dedicated themselves to continued work with this community; helping and encouraging each and every family to construct the facilities they need.

Project Result: Spring Protection

Construction on Isabella Spring began on April 7th. Landowner Isabella was very excited, saying “I am optimistic that the water from the spring is of good quality, and I see possibilities of bottling the water after protection.”

Spring protection involves conducting a water quality test; clearing the site, excavating the land uphill from the spring discharge until three feet of water is flowing; packing hard core; reinforcing and casting the foundation slab, building the main and wing walls; fitting the delivery pipes, inlets, draw off pipe, overflow, and inlet screen; backfilling; installing a pipe low in the collection wall to direct the water from the interception reservoir to a concrete or plastic spring box; landscaping and drainage; fencing the area; digging drainage.

4 kenya4570 construction

Protection of Isabella spring was completed on April 15th and the community is now able to continue drawing its water. The community members have already built a fence around the spring in order to prevent animals and people from stepping in the source. They have also dug drainage to prevent surface runoff from flowing into the spring. Grass has been planted close to the source. All of these activities have been coordinated by the water and sanitation committee and community health workers who attended training. The flow rate of Isabella Spring was calculated and found to be .44 liters per second (it takes 45 seconds to fill a 20-liter jerrycan).

20 kenya4570 Isabella and her soap

Now that the spring has been protected from contamination, Isabella’s dream has come true! When we visited a second time, we learned that she had already begun seizing the potential unlocked by clean water. Isabella fetches water for everyday uses like drinking, cooking, and cleaning, but also makes her own soap to sell to local families, businesses, and guesthouses. Isabella is now not only a healthy woman, but is also a successful businesswoman – all because of clean water!

The Water Project : 14-kenya4570-protected-spring

06/06/2016: Isabella Spring Protection Project Underway

We are excited to share that work around Isabella Spring has begun. Community members have been drinking contaminated water from this spring, and often suffer physical illnesses after doing so. 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 GPS coordinates.

The Water Project and the community of Isabella Spring (especially Isabella herself!) Thank You for giving the hope of clean water and good health.

The Water Project : 1-kenya4570-fetching-water

Monitoring Data

Project Type:  Protected Spring
Location:  Kakamega, Lurambi, Shieywe, Shikhambi Village
ProjectID: 4570
Install Date:  08/24/2016

Monitoring Data
Water Point:
Last Visit: 04/02/2018

Visit History:
08/12/2016 — Functional
09/24/2016 — Functional
11/01/2016 — Functional
02/10/2017 — Functional
05/04/2017 — Functional
04/02/2018 — Functional

I'm a Fighter

March, 2017

The clean water source brought a “new normal” of health to the community. And, it unleashed the entrepreneur in Isabella.

Isabella has seen it all. Last year her small community in Western Kenya had a horrible water problem. An unprotected, polluted spring, contaminated with disease, kept her entire community sick. She and her neighbors experienced water-borne illness, frequent sickness and an endless cycle of poverty. Sick kids miss school, and when the little money you have goes to doctor bills – nothing is easy.

When talking to Isabella about the way things used to be, she’ll tell you: “But I didn’t get discouraged… because I am a fighter.”

Isabella and The Water Project partnered together to protect her community’s’ spring in 2016 and everything began to change. This protected spring, now flowing with life-giving water, keeps the entire community healthy. Healthy kids go to school, and when you’re not spending the little money you have on doctor bills – you’re starting a soap business made with now accessible, safe water.

The clean water source brought a “new normal” of health to the community. And, it unleashed the entrepreneur in Isabella. Isabella used to talk about dirty water, now she talks about business deals and market trends. Instead of managing illness and poverty, she’s enjoying health, managing bulk soap orders and growing her business.

Through our regular monitoring and visits of Isabella’s spring, we have heard more and more about Isabella’s booming soap business. She knows has a full-time employee, has purchased a hand mixer to make more soap quickly and easily and has even been able to send her son to college. Her work is a premier example of strength and ingenuity and we celebrate her story and the impact clean water has made in her life.

While it may seem like one spring is just a drop in the bucket, Isabella Spring continues to provide safe drinking water to many people who are now more free to pursue their own vision for a flourishing life, like Isabella.

A Year Later: Shikhambi Community

September, 2017

“I am happy to say that Isabella Spring has not been the same since the project intervention last year. The population that draws water from the same spring has increased. This was prompted by the members coming in from neighboring areas that still have no access to safe water. The protected spring has reduced the sickness and now the community is healthier due to access to clean and safe water.”

A year ago, generous donors helped build a spring protection and sanitation platforms for the Shikhambi community surrounding Isabella Spring in Kenya. Because of these gifts and our monthly donors, partners can visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the actual water project. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – we’re excited to share this one from our partner, Rose Serete, with you.


Clean water access at Isabella Spring has created ripples of benefit throughout the surrounding community.  Spring protections such as this one have long lasting effects on health, education, and even business.  Isabella is a fighter who has stepped up to the challenges of poverty and sickness by starting and building her own soap making business.  Her work is a premier example of strength and ingenuity as she provides affordable access through local materials to improved community health and sanitation.


In addition, many students are thankful for the access to clean water at Isabella Spring. Patrick Yusi, age 17, says, “Personally I am happy because of protection of the Isabella Spring. As a member of the community we have a lot of water. In addition, we don’t take a lot of time to draw water because there is hardly any queue.”  Reduced time waiting in line for water collection means more time for community members to pursue their own goals.


WEWASAFO will continue supporting the Shikhambi community to ensure that clean water is not only available, but also that the community has tools to keep the water clean until drinking it. In addition, WEWASAFO trains and challenges the community to build and maintain clean latrines.

While it may seem like one spring is just a drop in the bucket, Isabella Spring continues to provide safe drinking water to many people who are now more free to pursue their own vision for a flourishing life.  We are excited to stay in touch with this community and to report the impact in the Shikhambi community as they continue on their journey.

The Water Project and our partners are committed to consistent monitoring of each water source. Our monitoring and evaluation program, made possible by monthly donors, allows us to visit communities up to 4 times a year. Read more about our program and how you can help.

Country Details


Population: 39.8 Million
Lacking clean water: 43%
Below poverty line: 50%

Partner Profile

Western Water and Sanitation Forum (WEWASAFO) works together with less privileged and marginalized members of communities in Western Kenya to reduce poverty through harnessing and utilization of local resources for sustainable development.