Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 210 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 11/03/2023

Project Features

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Community Profile

A normal day in Shiyunzu starts in the early morning. Children get ready for school and adults get ready to do what they can to make a living. Some community members extract stones that they break up into ballast. Selling these construction materials makes decent money, and some children drop out of school to help their parents.

Women are primarily responsible for finishing house chores like fetching water, cooking and cleaning. After, they join the others who are breaking stones.

This community is unique, for it has brought together people from at least five different tribes.

Water Situation

A point of unity in Shiyunzu is their main water source, Imbukwa Spring. Hundreds rely on this contaminated water source to meet their drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs. The water source is open to any animals that wish to sate their thirst. To draw water, people drunk their containers under the surface. As it rains, even more contaminants are washed into the spring. Nonetheless, there is no other choice.

There are conflicts that arise as people use the spring; one family will blame another when they arrive to fetch water and find leaves and dirt swirling on the surface. There are often several cases of waterborne diseases in the community, especially among the children.

Phylis Bitsengwa said, "We really thank God for bringing you to our community. We are tired of treating our children for diarrhea and stomachaches which we believe are from the dirty water which we get from our spring. If we could have our spring protected, I believe we would not be experiencing all these problems."

Sanitation Situation

Over half of the households around Shiyunzu have a basic pit latrine. However, many of these are in poor condition. The mud walls have holes in them and are not private at all. The floors are made of wood slats that rot away quickly and can't be cleaned. Between these low numbers and poor conditions, open defecation is the practice of most children who find it easier to find the privacy of bushes.

There are no hand-washing stations, though most families have at least a clothesline and dish rack.

What we can do:


Community members will attend hygiene and sanitation training for at least two days. This training will ensure participants have the knowledge they need 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. One of the most important topics 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’s consumed. Handwashing will also be a big topic.

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. The fence will keep out destructive animals, and the drainage will keep the area’s mosquito population at a minimum.

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 chosen for sanitation platforms 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.

Spring Protection

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. 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 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.

A community member told us, "We are much pleased with the work that you did to our school, for our children have told us. (Maganyi Primary School). We thank God so much for you for helping our school and now you have followed us up to our homes to ensure we have clean and safe drinking water. As a community of Shiyunzu, we are ready to provide the locally available materials needed and cooperate to ensure we get clean water. It is also our prayer that God Almighty may protect you always as you continue helping other people just as you have blessed us."

Project Updates

July, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Shiyunzu Community, Imbukwa 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 Shiyunzu, Kenya.

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.

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.

July, 2019: Giving Update: Shiyunzu Community, Imbukwa Spring

A year ago, your generous donation enabled us to protect Imbukwa Spring for Shiyunzu 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…

May, 2018: Shiyunzu Community Project Complete

Shiyunzu Community now has clean water! Imbukwa Spring has been transformed into a flowing source of clean water thanks to your donation. The spring is protected from contamination, five sanitation platforms have been provided for the community, and training has been done on sanitation and hygiene.

New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was planned with Mr. John Ongaya, who is the headteacher of a local school and looked to as a local leader. He invited household representatives to attend training, letting them know about its importance. Our staff continued visiting the community until a date was set.

Training was done early to beat the high noon heat, and a cool breeze kept participants alert for most of the morning. The meeting was done right at the spring, where construction was finished and people were already coming and going with clean water. There was a total of 13 participants, making the group a bit smaller than we'd like.

However, this was expected because many people were very busy preparing their fields for planting before the rainy season. Women seemed more active than the men, but the men answered the questions posed to them well.

The majority of people willing to take the time to learn over the course of two mornings were women.

We covered several topics including leadership and governance; operation and maintenance of the spring; healthcare; family planning; immunizations; the spread of disease and prevention. We also covered water treatment methods, personal care like washing hands, environmental hygiene, hygiene promotion, and many others. Since we were near the spring, we could run through hands-on management and maintenance demonstrations.

Mr. Protas Wetaba is a farmer who saw the long-term benefits of attending training.

"I am so happy, for I am enlightened with the knowledge I have gained through this training," he said.

"My life and that of my family will change positively in terms of sanitation, hygiene, economy, and leadership. I have received new information that I could not find elsewhere."

Sanitation Platforms

All five sanitation platforms have been installed. These five families are happy about this milestone of having a private latrine of their own and are optimistic that people will no longer leave waste outdoors. We are continuing to encourage families to finish building walls and roofs over their new latrine floors.

Spring Protection

Community members provided all locally available construction materials, e.g bricks, wheelbarrows of clean sand, wheelbarrows of ballast, fencing poles and gravel. Accommodations and meals were provided for the artisan, too. Men and women lent their strength to the artisan to help him with manual labor. Even the students returned from school in the late afternoons and got straight to helping the artisan with whatever he needed.

Students shuttling bricks over to where the artisan is working.

The spring area was excavated to create space for setting the foundation of polyethylene, wire mesh and concrete. 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 headwall to direct the water from the reservoir to the drawing area.

As the wing walls and headwall 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 headwall 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.

Keeping the cement moist as it dries actually prevents cracks. This is "curing."

The source area was filled up with clean hardcore and covered with a polyethylene membrane to eliminate any potential sources of contamination.

The field officer uses a level to check on the artisan's work.

As the concrete dried, community members cleared blue gum trees out of the area. If they had left them there, they would have soaked up a lot of the spring's water. People were prepared to get water as soon as the spring protection was finished, and we met them there to join in the celebration. Some of them were willing to have their pictures taken as they waited for their containers to fill with clean water, and their smiles are contagious!

February, 2018: Shiyunzu Community Project Underway

Shiyunzu Community will soon have a clean, safe source of water thanks to your donation! Community members have been drinking contaminated water from Imbukwa Spring, and contend with the consequences on a daily basis. 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 here. Please take some time to get to know your community through the narrative and pictures posted to this page. We look forward to reaching out again with 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!

Giving Update: Shiyunzu Community, Imbukwa Spring

July, 2019

A year ago, you funded a spring protection at Shiyunzu Community in Kenya – creating a life-changing moment for Jackline Akola. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shiyunzu Community, Imbukwa 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!

Since the protection of Imbukwa Spring a little over a year ago, on a recent field visit, we saw how this project has facilitated peace and harmony in Shiyunzu. There was a prevailing sense of unity in the environment and among community members. We learned how much of this unity has grown out of the water user committee for the spring.

The water user committee, which was created during the WaSH training, has created a "merry-go-round style" financial support system. Members go around to households on a cyclical basis to collect fees, which enables the group to maintain the spring. In addition, members of the group are allowed to take out loans from the group on a rotating basis to start a development project of their choice.

For the members of the Imbukwa Spring group, they have collectively chosen vegetable gardening as their development activity. The income generated from the sale of these vegetables has helped improve overall income among members, and in turn, has increased their quality of life.

Jackline (left) and Selfine (right) with another community member

The beneficiaries of Imbukwa Spring shared with us how very grateful they are for the safe, clean water that now flows from Imbukwa Spring. Community members have kept the spring in good shape and in very clean condition. Since protection, the total number of spring users has increased, especially during the most recent dry spell.

Selfine Nanzala, who lives in Shiyunzu, shared with us how this project has positively impacted not just her own life, but the lives of others she knows as well.

Selfine Nanzala

"My life has changed in various ways since the completion of the project. I am drinking clean and safe water which has never [before] been [possible] since I started living in this community," Selfine explained.

Field Officer Jemmimah with Selfine

"The problems I had of stomach pains and frequent visits to the hospital - I feel [them] no more, just because of the clean water. Hygienically, the environmental and body management skills I received from the training have kept me fit and in shape. I am also able to train others on the same [skills]."

For Jackline Akola, a caretaker in Shiyunzu, the spring protection has brought her so much more than just clean water as well.

"The changes that have been happening [include] reduced numbers of hospital visits, and the women here say that they are enjoying clean water," Jackline said.

Jackline also said that the children have "no more stomach pains...and again they have peace."

Flowing water


"[Adults have] enough time to take care of themselves" and their children, and kids are doing better in school since their absences due to waterborne illnesses have decreased.

"Community members are doing kitchen gardening which they learned from the training, and [this] is now helping them cater to their food security," Jackline explained.

The training that was conducted helped especially in management and also in creating unity in the community. From the observations made, no personal washing is done in front of the spring, and even cattle do not graze or drink from the source. The community's care for Imbukwa Spring is exemplary.

Thumbs up for maintained springs!

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 Shiyunzu Community, Imbukwa 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 Shiyunzu Community, Imbukwa 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.