Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 189 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2017

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 08/03/2023

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

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

A normal day in Shitaho Community starts at 5:30AM when parents wake up to help their children prepare for school. Once children are sent out the door, parents take care of morning chores. These include fetching water from the local spring, washing dishes, collecting firewood, and many other tasks. After these are done, they work on the farm to grow vegetables and tend to the banana trees. Around 10AM, local "mamas," or businesswomen, carry a tray of vegetables and bananas to see at the local market. They walk to the market with the faith that they will sell all they have; they never forget their empty bottles saved for the kerosene they will buy at the end of the day. When the mamas get back home, they start cooking dinner for their families.

Women in Shitaho Community appear to have the longest list of responsibilities. Families are basically fueled by woman power. The men tend to leave their farms early to join their friends for alcohol. Women overstretch to cover for their husbands' laziness, trying to pay for both household needs and school fees. This project is bringing these lifestyles to light. Men have already started to realize how much their wives do for them and their children, and they're starting to come around and embrace community development. The men have vowed to join hands with the women to bring lasting change to Shitaho Community.

Shitaho Community is home 189 people from 27 different households.

Water Situation

These 189 people rely on Jared Spring for their water. Women tend to use a 20-liter plastic container, and children opt for a lighter 5-liter container.

The community fixed a pipe at the mouth of the spring to siphon water out and into the container. A woman and a child just has to set their container down and wait for it to fill; the hard part is lifting it up and bringing it back home! Once home, the water is normally consolidated in a 100-liter plastic barrel. If the family needs more drinking water, it is poured into a covered clay pot stored in either the kitchen or living room.

We know that Jared Spring is contaminated because of the numerous reports of waterborne disease. Our visit to the spring confirmed this fact; the water flowing up to the pipe is open and subjected to erosion, surface runoff, and animals.  Jared Spring is also located at the bottom of a slope, with rain often funneling contaminants straight into the water.

Sanitation Situation

Under half of households in Shitaho Community have their own pit latrine. The ones observed are made of mud walls, sugar sacks for doors, and grass for roofs. Logs are lain out over the pit to form a floor on which users have to balance. Since so few families have their own pit latrine, open defecation is an obvious issue.

We found no hand-washing stations and only a few helpful sanitation tools like dish racks or clotheslines. Garbage is often piled up at the edge of the banana plantations. The garbage pile is burned when it gets too high.

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.

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 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. Mrs. Rose Mukoshi said, "We are ready and willing to avail the required local materials because this will be an answered prayer. Ill health cases have been reported consistently as a result of use of unsafe water, unhygienic environment and ignorance about proper hygiene practices."

Project Updates

August, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Jared Sonji Ambeli

This post is part of a new series by The Water Project meant to highlight the perspectives and experiences of the people we serve and how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them. We invite you to read more of their stories here.

Jared Sonij Ambeli is a 68-year-old father, grandfather, and plumber living in Shitaho where he depends on the spring of his own name, Jared Spring, for all of his daily water needs. As the spring's landowner, Jared also serves as the Chair of its water user committee to help ensure the water point's longevity.

Jared Sonji Ambeli stands outside his home in Shitaho.

Our team recently visited Shitaho to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point. Shortly after, we returned to check in on the community, offer a COVID-19 refresher training, and ask how the pandemic is affecting their lives.

It was during this most recent visit that Jared shared his story of how the coronavirus has impacted his life.

Field Officer Christine Masinde met Jared outside his home to conduct the interview. Both Christine and Jared observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. Their questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.

Jared talks about what has changed in his village since the protection of Jared Spring, and walks through 2 of his new norms during the pandemic - wearing a mask and frequent handwashing.

What is one thing that has changed in your community since the protection of Jared Spring?

"Waterborne and water-related diseases like typhoid and diarrhea have been eradicated and we no longer spend money on hospital bills in treatment of such illnesses. In general, with the availability of clean and safe water, the hygienic conditions in our community have been impacted positively."

Jared fetches water at the spring of his own name

How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?

"I have a big family that uses a lot of water in a day for drinking, washing, and bathing. Water from this water point never runs out and it's clean and safe. Washing our hands properly with soap and clean water is one of the important measures that is being used to prevent infection with the coronavirus. This water point enables us to achieve all these to stay safe."

Jared washes his hands with soap and clean water from Jared Spring using the handwashing station he set up outside his home.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Kenya, has fetching water changed for you because of restrictions, new rules, or your concerns about the virus?

"We no longer encourage crowding at the spring and community members keep [physical] distance all the time. Everyone has to put on a mask as they go to the spring and we have to wash our hands first before we fetch water."

Physical distancing while waiting in line at the spring is the new norm.

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

"My only son was employed in a school as a casual laborer, but after the abrupt closure of all schools due to COVID-19, he no longer gets his monthly wages. He had to move back to our house with his wife and children because he could not afford rent and food for his family. Now I have 12 members of my family under 1 roof. The food surplus that was to take us to the next harvest season was depleted a long time ago. Life is almost unbearable."

"The money I get through my plumbing job is too little to sustain my whole family. Furthermore, I hardly get jobs from my clients because of fear of the spread of coronavirus and they are scared of allowing people into their houses."

"My grandchildren cannot afford online classes so we just encourage them to study on their own. We are also worried that since they have so much free time, they might engage in bad behaviors...that will affect their future."

Jared with 2 of his grandsons, now home and out of school due to national coronavirus-related school closures in Kenya.

What other challenges are you experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

"I lost my mum recently and with the current government directives, very few people came to mourn with us, which is a very new thing to us. Usually, if one of our community members is bereaved, we always come together to comfort the family and help out on a befitting sendoff of the departed. All the funeral and burial arrangements were left to a few close family members. It's a very difficult period for us, especially with this economic hardship."

Jared wears his mask for a portrait.

What hygiene and sanitation steps have you and your community taken to stop the spread of the virus?

"We have installed a handwashing station in our home, we wash our hands frequently, we put on masks, and keep social distance when in public places."

Like most governments around the world, the Kenyan government continues to set and adjust restrictions both nationally and regionally to help control the spread of the disease.

What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?

"When I heard that churches have been allowed to operate, I was excited because my spiritual growth has been affected negatively during this pandemic. But my excitement was short-lived because my age group is not allowed to go to church since we are the most vulnerable to the virus. However, my other family members go to church but I remind them to keep in mind the COVID-19 preventive measures while away."

Jared (center) stands with 2 of his fellow water user committee members. Together they help manage the maintenance and environment of the spring.

What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?

"What I pray for is for this virus to disappear or for a vaccine to be found so that our lives can go back to normal."

When asked where he receives information about COVID-19, Jared listed the radio and our team's sensitization training.

Field Officer Christine Masinde gives Jared and all community members present a spare mask at the COVID-19 refresher training offered on the same day as Jared's interview.

What has been the most valuable part of the COVID-19 sensitization training you received from our team?

"Being taught how to wash our hands using the 10-step technique was the most important part of the training. We religiously follow the steps as we wash our regularly with soap and clean water in order to avoid being infected with coronavirus and other diseases too. We took it upon ourselves to teach other community members and visitors from other communities."

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Shitaho Community, Jared 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.

Trainer Christine Masinde offers sanitizer to participants before passing out materials at training

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 Shitaho, Kenya.

Trainer Masinde offering hand sanitizer

We trained more than 15 people on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19. Due to public gathering concerns, we worked with trusted community leaders to gather a select group of community members who would then relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

Handwashing demonstration

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.

Participants follow along with handwashing steps

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.

Trainers Christine and Erick hold the reminder chart left at the spring

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.

A community member looks at the prevention reminder chart installed at the spring

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.

A boy demonstrates handwashing using the new leaky tin

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.

An elerly woman holding an informational pamphlet on the Coronavirus attends training

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, 2017: A Year Later: Shitaho Community

A year ago, generous donors helped protect Jared Spring in Shitaho Village, Western Kenya. Because of these gifts and contributions from 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 Betty Muhongo Majani with you.

Project Videos

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: Shitaho Community

December, 2017

Health has positively improved, and thus many resources that used to be spent on medication are now used for other developmental activities.

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shitaho Community, Jared Spring 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, generous donors helped protect Jared Spring in Shitaho Village, Western Kenya. Because of these gifts and contributions from 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 Betty Muhongo Majani with you.

During this visit to the spring, we were amazed at how much the number of people fetching water here has grown. Since the spring protection last year, more roads have constructed between Shitaho and Kakamega Town. This construction destroyed a tap system that was already in place, forcing many more to come to the spring to get clean water.

Sanitation has also improved, with the majority of families implementing what they learned during training. Compost pits, dish racks, and clotheslines were observed during this visit.

Rose giving a thumbs up for clean water!

Rose Mukoshi is the secretary of Jared Spring's water committee. She met Betty there to talk about some what she's seen: "I am very excited, for you have removed a thorn that was piercing so painfully. In our community everybody is excited to have access to clean and safe water. Health has positively improved, and thus many resources that used to be spent on medication are now used for other developmental activities."

Yvonne Makanji relies on this spring to provide water for all of her needs. Most importantly, drinking.

17-year-old Yvonne Makanji came to fetch water while Betty was there. She added "I am thankful for this clean and safe water. It has improved my academic performance, since I no longer miss class lessons due to health issues that resulted in drinking dirty water from the unprotected spring."

Betty notes that there's great cohesiveness and unity on the water committee, and that they're doing a lot more than just water. They're supporting each other in economic ventures, such as farming fish.

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.

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 Shitaho Community, Jared Spring 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 Shitaho Community, Jared Spring – 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.


La Crosse Area Cru
6 individual donor(s)