Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 01/11/2024

Project Features

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This is Esther, who lives in Sharambatsa.

She’s a farmer, widow, and the primary caregiver for her elderly mother. Esther lost her husband in 2015, after which she moved back here to be with her mother. She approaches her days with a bold wisdom, keen resourcefulness and dedication to hard work.

Her days start early. Without any other option, every morning starts with a long walk to collect the water needed for breakfast, bathing, and cleaning. There are a few occasions on which Esther buys water from vendors. The vendors normally sell dirty water, but Esther is happy with the valuable time she saves. Buying water all the time is financially unfeasible for her and her family.

Thus, spring water is the family’s primary option.


Esther and hundreds of others make several trips to Mihako Spring to get water each day. It has not been an easy walk in life for Esther and her community, particularly in terms of water, education, and medical services. All of these are extremely hard to access due to the high level of poverty here.

"It's always a challenge when the drainage is blocked and I have to ask other men to assist me. I always face opposition from their wives who feel threatened thinking I will snatch away their husbands since I have none," Esther said.

"I am able to at least feed my family of five thanks to my husband who left me a farm to cultivate. My worst nightmare is when my children are sick, as I have to sell our food in order to take them for medical care. If I can find a good Samaritan to protect our spring, we shall reduce diseases and thus save money used for treating such water diseases."


Less than half of the households living around Mihako Spring have their own pit latrine. Most of the latrines we observed are of a traditional nature, with mud walls and mud floors. The community reports that when the floor gets soiled, it's really hard to clean. You cannot poor water on the dirt floor, so they instead smear it with mud. When it gets too dusty, they sprinkle water on the floor. Ash is used as a disinfectant. Since some families don't have latrines, they share.

When they can't access the latrine at a neighbor's place, they resort to open defecation.

There are very few additional sanitation tools like clotheslines, dish racks, and hand-washing stations.

What we're going to do about it:


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. 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. Since open defecation was encountered here, this is at the top of our list of things to address. Waste always needs to be disposed of properly, or else it will be spread by flies or rainwater.

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.

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 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.

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 female community members like Esther 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

October, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Anne Nyongesa

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 Sharambatsa to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point, Mihako 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 Anne Nyongesa, a 42-year-old farmer, shared her story of how the coronavirus is impacting her life and her community.

Anne Nyongesa outside her home

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

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

"We now have clean water. We can fetch the water any time of the day and during any season. Before the spring was protected, fetching water during the rainy season was more challenging due to pollution."

Anne fetching water at Mihako Spring with her daughters

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

"The availability of clean water has helped a big deal during this pandemic where we have to wash our hands regularly. We are able to access enough water for washing our hands to keep the virus at bay."

Anne washing her hands with soap and clean water from the spring using the handwashing station she set up outside her 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?

"Fetching water has not changed for me since our spring is so high-yielding and so we don't have to crowd at the spring. The restrictions haven't affected fetching water."

Anne's daughter Faith washing her hands at home.

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

"I was a small business operator before COVID-19 struck. Markets being closed due to the restrictions really affected my life since I can no longer fend for my family. I am forced to look around for casual labor like weeding people's farms to earn a living. My children no longer eat well. The children have also been affected by the closure of schools."

Anne helping her daughter Terry put her mask on

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

"The pandemic has denied us our freedom. We no longer can mingle like we used to do. Our burial ceremonies and weddings have changed since the number of attendees has been limited and so has the time."

Anne and Terry wearing their masks.

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

"We have been able to put handwashing stations in our homes, we wear masks when stepping out of our homesteads, and we also avoid unnecessary travels."

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?

"I was happy to have the churches reopened, even if it meant the number of attendees was restricted."

Portrait of Anne

What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?

"I am still looking forward to seeing schools reopened."

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

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

"The most helpful part during the training was the information on handwashing where the trainer informed us that the normal bar soap was able to remove the COVID-19 virus if used well to wash hands. Initially, I had thought that sanitizers were more effective and since I could not afford them, I felt less fortunate fighting this pandemic."

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Sharambatsa Community, Mihako 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 Sharambatsa, Kenya.

We trained more than 12 people on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19. Before there were any reported cases in the area, we worked with trusted community leaders and the Water User Committee to gather community members for the training.

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: Sharambatsa Community, Mihako Spring

A year ago, your generous donation enabled us to protect Mihako Spring for Sharambatsa 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: Sharambatsa Community Has Clean Water

Sharambatsa Community now has clean water! Mihako 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.

New Knowledge

The community members were informed early on of all the project requirements, which entailed assembling local construction materials and selecting a Water and Sanitation Management Committee that would be trained on maintenance and management of the spring. One of the elected committee members went house to house inviting everyone to attend a more general community hygiene and sanitation training. Because good hygiene and sanitation are important, Esther Luvale urged that at least one representative come from each household.

The weather was sunny and hot. Considering this, the beneficiaries agreed to conduct training under a tree in Esther's compound so that they could enjoy the cool breeze as they learned. This venue was also close to the spring site so we could walk over and conduct care and management demonstrations. Attendance was good, though the men were few in number. This was because they were assisting the skilled artisan by ferrying local materials, mixing concrete, and casting sanitation platforms.

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 trainer demonstrates how to brush your teeth the right way.

The dental hygiene information was especially useful for this community. People had a false understanding of dental hygiene, including a baby's teething stage. They believed symptoms of teething are diarrhea and fever. They also told us that they always solved this problem by putting herbal medicine on the gums of the child. Others would force the teeth out using crude tools which could lead to HIV infections. The trainer was able to teach that these children are actually getting diarrhea because of their need to chew on things, no matter the cleanliness of those things.

Participants were grateful for the session on handwashing too. Whenever they'd wash their hands after visiting the latrine, they'd dunk their hands in a bucket of water. We taught that handwashing should be done with flowing water and soap, which should be done not only after using the latrine, but after changing a baby's diaper, before cooking, and before eating meals.

"I will not forget the training that these young ladies have taught us. In the past, I never knew that loss of teeth is not a sign of old age, but of poor oral hygiene," Mrs. Margret Makayi said.

"I've lost several, but with this information, I won't be losing teeth anymore!"

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.

Working together to excavate level ground for the concrete foundation.

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 area behind the discharge pipe called the 'spring box' is filled with materials like rocks, gravel, and fine sand, then covered with plastic to prevent contamination.

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.

As soon as the project was completed, word spread around the community that clean water was flowing. Community members gathered around the water spring to see for themselves. They included the village elder, the water and sanitation committee officials, and our artisan and staff. We were honored to celebrate with them as they tried their first sips of clean water from Mihako Spring.

April, 2018: Sharambatsa Community Project Underway

Dirty water from Mihako Spring is making people in Sharambatsa 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 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. Learn more here!

Giving Update: Sharambatsa Community, Mihako Spring

July, 2019

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Sharambatsa Community, Mihako 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!

We recently visisted Mihako Spring in Sharambatsa Village, marking just over a year since their spring's protection. We were pleased to see community members enjoying a high discharge rate with clean, safe drinking water all year round.

Today, Mihako Spring users live in peace since water is now easily available for everyone. In the past year, there has been an increase in the amount of healthy food available in the community, grown on their own farms, which in return results in better health. The produce is only made possible by the water made accessible at Mihako Spring. The sale of the produce has also improved household income throughout Sharambatsa.

On this visit we found the spring to be in good, clean condition. The spring was already producing a high discharge, which only improves with each rain we get throughout the current rainy season.

Esther Luvale, a farmer in Sharambatsa, was pleased to share how the protection of Mihako Spring has positively impacted her own life and the life of her village.

Mrs. Esther Luvale, Mr. Peter Imbutsi, and Field Officer Georgina Kamau


"One of the biggest changes is [access to an] improved clean water supply in the community," Esther said.

Drink up!

"The economy of this community has improved since the increase [in the] amount of healthy food available [that we can grow]. We are now selling healthy vegetables and the demand and supply have increased over the last year."

Peter Imbutsi

Esther's 9-year-old daughter, Patience, also shared her thoughts with us at the spring.

"We can now access clean and safe drinking water since the spring protection, which was not the case a year ago. The water was dirty and unsafe, but now I am enjoying clean water," Patience said.

Patience (far right)

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 Sharambatsa Community, Mihako 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 Sharambatsa Community, Mihako 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.


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