Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 140 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/10/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

A normal day in Ataku Community begins at 5am when a few children are seen helping their parents with household chores before they go to school.

There are some families that are able to prepare breakfast for their children, but other families cannot. No breakfast makes life difficult for these children, who attend classes with an empty stomach - resulting in poor academic performance. Often at the age of twelve, children are taken to urban centers to work as house or farm help.


Ataku Spring serves more than 20 different households here. During the dry months, people from other areas make the walk to get water from Ataku Spring - it does not dry up. It's the only source of water here and so families must use it for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and all their other needs, even though it's contaminated.

People use containers, big and small, to fetch water. The spring is too shallow and muddy to fill a large container in one dunk. Normally a large container is dunked under the surface and filled as much as possible. Then, a smaller container is used to make up the difference.

"Last month, my mother had typhoid. I have not been able to go to school because the money that I was to use for a school fee was spent on my mother's medication," 16-year-old Esther told us.


Less than half of the 20 households using this spring have their own pit latrine. People are actually sharing a few latrines among themselves and most are overused and in pathetic condition. The walls are made of mud and wood, while boards and logs are suspended over the pit.

There are even fewer clotheslines, dish racks, and hand-washing stations here.

What we're going to do about it:


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. Hand-washing 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.

This project is a part of our shared program with Western Water And Sanitation Forum (WEWASAFO). Our team is pleased to provide the reports for this project (formatted and edited for readability) thanks to the hard work of our friends in Kenya.

Project Updates

July, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Ataku Community, Ataku 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.

Reviewing a prevention reminders chart

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 Ataku, Kenya.

A man shows the COVID-19 informational pamphlet he received at training

We trained more than 6 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.

Demonstration on how to build and use a tippy tap handwashing station

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 session

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.

Community members are asked to watch closely so they can give feedback and critiques on others' handwashing technique

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.

Using the tippy tap in handwashing

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.

Homemade mask tutorial

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: Ataku Community, Ataku Spring

A year ago, your generous donation enabled us to protect Ataku Spring for Ataku 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: Clean Water Flowing in Ataku Community

Ataku Community now has clean water! Ataku 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 given in sanitation and hygiene.

Knowledge is Power

The community elected Amos Furi as committee secretary to help with project administration. On behalf of the entire committee, he went door to door to invite community members to attend our hygiene and sanitation training. They strongly encouraged that at least one representative be there for each household, which would give us a total of 15 participants.

We were pleasantly surprised with a turnout of 19 even though it was planting season in Ataku!

We met at Mr. Javan Namakara's homestead under a tree.

The participants were active throughout the training, but women more so than men. This is probably because women are traditionally seen as those who should be most responsible for water, sanitation, and hygiene matters.

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 handwashing, environmental hygiene, hygiene promotion, and many other things.

The group walked over to the spring to see demonstrations of how to care for and manage the spring.

79-year-old Josephat Tende sacrificed time on his farm for the longterm benefits this knowledge offers his community.

"We are so grateful for the project, and particularly the hygiene training," he said.

"We were ignorant about proper handwashing and oral hygiene. But now we have learned how to do it better and we shall train other community members on the same. This will ensure that we stay healthy."

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. 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 ceramic tiles were fixed directly below the discharge pipe. This protects the concrete from 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.

The source area was filled up with clean hardcore and covered with a polyethylene membrane to eliminate any potential sources of contamination. It took about two weeks of patience for the concrete to dry.

Many families believed in witchcraft and thought there was a curse on their community; that if they were to build anything new or pursue anything new, sickness and death would follow. This also prevented many parents from sending their children to school.

After seeing the successful transformation at Ataku Spring, they now believe change is possible.

April, 2018: Ataku Community Project Underway

Dirty water from Ataku Spring is making people in Ataku Community sick. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know your community through the narrative 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!

Giving Update: Ataku Community, Ataku Spring

July, 2019

A year ago, you funded a spring protection at Ataku Community in Kenya – creating a life-changing moment for Esther Nyakowe. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Ataku 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!

Community members in Ataku Village are very grateful because they no longer waste time as they did in the past. That change happened a little over a year ago when we helped protect Ataku Spring.

Back then - before the protection - Ataku community members would come to draw water only to find it very dirty. They were then forced to look for alternative water sources, often equally distant and contaminated as Ataku Spring.

The only other choice was to wait for more than an hour for the water to clear up at the muddy, unprotected Ataku Spring, and to wait in line with the dozens of other people trying to fetch water too.

Today, all that has changed. Very little time is spent drawing water, and as we near closer to completing a rainwater tank at nearby Ematiha Secondary School, we anticipate the crowding going down as well. Most children who once suffered waterborne diseases from the contaminated spring water no longer do, and no money is spent on medication for these problems.

Charle, Esther, and Betty

17-year-old Charle Okute, a student from Ematiha Secondary School, said that "as a result of safe and clean water from this spring, [we experience] reduced diarrhea diseases and thus we no longer have to be out of school all the time."

Charle Okute

For Esther Nyakowe, a secretary who lives in Ataku, the spring protection has meant a change in the entire dynamic of her village.

Betty and Esther

"Since the project was implemented in this village, families are more united because they have a self-help group that brings them together once every month," she said.

"[Additionally], disputes resulting from gossip amongst women have reduced tremendously as [women] no longer waste time at the spring talking about one another."

Ataku Spring

We have high hopes for the continued good maintenance of Ataku Spring, and already look forward to our next visit there.

All smiles

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 Ataku 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 Ataku 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.


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