Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Program: Kenyan Spring Protection

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2015

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/05/2024

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).

Background Information

This unprotected spring is located in Ilesi Village, Ilesi location, Muhonje sub-county, Kakamega East Division within Kakamega County. The spring serves 150 households, resulting in a huge population of 1024 people. (Editor's Note: While this many people may have access on any given day, realistically a single water source can only support a population of 350-500 people.  This community would be a good candidate for a second project in the future so adequate water is available. To learn more, click here.) The water is used for domestic purposes such as drinking, cooking, washing, watering animals and irrigating farms.

The community depends on creating pottery for a living, which even provides for their children's higher education. They have different markets that they sell their work in, even outside of Kakamega County. A lot of people from outside of Ilesi Village also travel into town to buy these pots and utensils.


This spring has been improved by the locals at the drawing point, but the catchment area is still left open to contamination. Many people waste time waiting in queues due to the large population accessing this spring, and many conflicts have resulted from the anxiety caused by the poor situation.

During the dry season, people are forced to fetch water at night to avoid the congestion during the day. This can be very dangerous for women who can be accosted when walking to and waiting at the spring.

It was also reported that that the community is battling waterborne diseases like cholera, typhoid and dysentery as a result of contaminated water.

The sanitation situation is also critical. Most people lack proper latrines, dish racks, clotheslines, and information about how to maintain good hygiene and health.

While walking around the village, WEWASAFO noticed that since many people do not have safe and clean latrines, they have resorted to using the bathroom outside. And as a result, flies have been drawn to Shamwama spring and its vicinity.

Because there are no dish racks or clotheslines, these things are often dried on the ground. Chickens are also free to roam around these areas, and often wander over and contaminate utensils and clothes.

Ilesi Village is in dire need of of support and is urging WEWASAFO to help them protect Shamwama spring.

Water Sanitation and Management Committee Training

This training was conducted from October 13th to 14th on Mr. Jacob Mate's property (the spring landowner). The training was attended by 13 people out of which three were male and 10 were female.

These community members were briefed on the materials necessary to complete this project, which include: hardcore, clean sand, ballast, and fencing poles. Participants agreed on the following roles for the committee:

- Build a fence around the spring

- Set rules for good behavior and practices

- Gather stone and sand before the construction date

- Take care of the construction workers by providing accommodations and food

- Repair the spring if damaged

- Keep records of activities around the spring

Participants also enjoyed a practical session at the spring site, where they learned they should:

- Plant grass and indigenous species instead of blue gum trees

- Keep animals away

- Prohibit farming in the vicinity

- Dig drainage

- Keep latrines a minimum of 50 meters away

- Keep children from playing and people from washing in the spring's water

Participants learned they can further take steps towards preventing disease by treating and boiling water, covering cooked food, and washing hands.

The committee came up with a schedule to implement some of the decisions found above. Cecilia, the committee chairperson, thanked the organization and facilitators for the good things they taught. She admitted that most community members had been ignorant of good health practices before the sessions. She also requested that the organization return and protect even more springs in the area.

Community Health Workers Training

The community health worker (CHW) training was held from October 15-16. There was a total of 13 participants, of which seven were elected to take on the role of a CHW in their community. The training aimed to equip participants with the skills to promote good health and hygiene, ultimately decreasing the cases of waterborne disease.

Participants were taught about the chain of contamination and how to construct blocks between the links. Most of these preventative measures deal with the initial environment, where it is important to keep it clean and free of contaminates. Later on in the chain, it is possible to protect the host from any contaminates that were not blocked. For example: treating or boiling water and covering food.

The facilitator also taught sessions about handling water properly and washing hands. Participants were able to observe the facilitator and then practice these themselves.

The group also decided on the role of the seven CHWs, which includes making sure the spring is clean and that rules are followed. The CHWs will also visit homes to check for and educate on the following things:

- Dish racks and clotheslines

- Compost pits

- Clean latrines and bathing rooms

- No stagnant water

- Proper nutrition and diet

- Family planning

- Kitchen gardens


The facilitator also encouraged the group to participate in a transect walk, which is an educational exploration and assessment of the community's current sanitation and hygiene situation.

The CHW group also made a plan for action that will educate the rest of their community on proper hygiene and sanitation.

Project Results:

Spring Protection

Protection of Shamwama Spring is complete and now in use by community members. Beneficiaries can now draw safe, clean drinking water from the spring because it is protected from surface runoff and other contaminates. They are happy to no longer be wasting time waiting for the water to clear as a result of constant activity. This saved time will now be used to maintain the community's livelihood, pottery-making. Cases of waterborne diseases are expected to decrease, and community members are no longer worried about wasting money to treat them. They will instead have the good health necessary to engage in other important economic activities.

Household Sanitation Platforms

Sanitation platforms have been installed and are now used by five different households. After training, these families realized the importance of using their new latrines which are both safer and cleaner. With these five families using latrines, open defecation and thus water contamination is expected to greatly decrease.

Thank You for unlocking Shamwama Community's potential!


Project Updates

December, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Cecilia Muyayano

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.

Our team recently visited Ilesi to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point, Shamwama Spring. 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 Cecilia Muyayano, the elected Secretary of the spring's water user committee, shared her story of how the coronavirus is impacting her life and her community. A potter by trade, Cecilia now relies on the spring's water not just for her business, but also to keep herself and her family safe during the pandemic.

Cecilia Muyayano at her pottery workshop

Field Officer Olivia Bomji met Cecilia outside her home to conduct the interview. Both Olivia and Cecilia observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Cecilia's story, in her own words.

What is one thing that has changed in your community since the completion of the water project?

"Since the construction of the spring, we access clean and safe water - different from before when we used a scooping jug to fetch water. The number of people using the spring increased since the construction of the spring and the community members no longer get sick due to waterborne diseases."

Cecilia at the spring fetching water

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

"The water point has helped me a lot because my family can access clean water for consumption, washing, and even feeding my cattle. It has also helped me a lot because we do sculpting and molding of different designs of pots - it is our family business and our source of income. Molding and sculpting of pots need a lot of water and the water point has helped us a lot. I can say that without water, I could not be doing this business."

Cecilia's homemade clay handwashing water pot

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?

"Fetching water has not changed a lot, it's just that right now we use a lot of water, more than before. This is because we wash hands all the time to protect ourselves from COVID-19 and to maintain good hygiene and sanitation."

Cecilia inspects some of her employees' work

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

"Staying with my children at home for so long has been a challenge. Controlling teenagers who want to go out from morning to evening during this pandemic has been stressful. This has forced me to spend more time at home to keep my family well during this pandemic."

At home

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

"COVID-19 has affected us a lot because my business went down. My customers no longer required as much of a supply of pots, and this affected my business a lot. This forced me to reduce the workers in my business of sculpting and molding pots from fifteen to three because I was not able to pay them. As of now, my business is not doing well at all."

Examples of Cecilia's pottery work

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

"We have ensured that every home has a handwashing station. We put on masks when leaving our houses and we also avoid crowded places by keeping a social distance. This has helped us a lot and that's why, in our community, there are no COVID-19 cases."

Handwashing (The clay pot recently fell and cracked, but she has not had time to repair it yet.)

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 virus.

What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?

"When the curfew hours were reduced it helped us to do other things to help our families."

What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?

"The restriction that I am still looking forward to being lifted is the that people can have more time to work and support their families financially."

Giving water from the spring to her calf for drinking

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

"Handwashing was the most helpful because we learned to wash our hands anytime we touch surfaces and visit places. It has helped us in improving our general hygiene."

June, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Ilesi Community, Shamwama 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.

Facilitator Janet Kayi on left at the 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 Ilesi, Kenya.

A woman shows her informational pamphlet on COVID-19 received at training

We trained more than 9 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.

Trainer Patience leads a session while community members observe social distancing

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.

Handwashing demonstration

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.

A community member washes her hands using a clay pot the women made into a handwashing station

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 unique pottery handwashing station made by the women who attended training

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.

Prevention reminders chart installed at the spring

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.

Observing social distancing while listening

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.

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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!


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