Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 250 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 08/13/2023

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

Irumbi Village is located in Western Kenya. Community members wake up by 5am to prepare their kids for school after which some go to the garden to plow.

Others go to nearby Kakamega Town for casual labor, while some remain at home to do the household chores and fetch water from the unprotected spring.

This community highly values farming. Most of the community members engage in planting crops and rearing livestock.

They practice crop cultivation by planting various food crops like maize, beans, yams, and sweet potatoes. In addition to keeping livestock around the source of the spring, there is a fish pond which has its own water source and an outlet. Crop cultivation takes place around the spring too.


One of the community members from the village went for a burial ceremony in the neighboring community and saw a protected spring. On inquiry, she was directed to our organization to receive the same spring protection in the community.

The community members gather water using plastic jerrycans and buckets at the unprotected Shatsala Spring. They place them at the improvized pipes for filling.

The water is then stored in larger plastic containers in their homes.

The water source is open and contaminated by surface runoff and human activities like farming. Community members are affected by waterborne diseases like cholera, typhoid, and diarrhea due to the safe water shortage.

"We are ready to receive help to reduce the outbreak of waterborne diseases which are caused by soil erosion, surface runoff and human activities like cultivation near the water sources," Mrs. Petronilah Otunga said.


More than half of the households in the community have latrines. Those that have pit latrines are in poor condition.

Most of them are made of mud with iron sheets as walls. The floors often are made of logs and they use nylon papers and sacks as doors. The floors are in a critical condition. They can cause accidents to small kids and some adults.

They dispose of garbage in their gardens to use as compost.

Here’s 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 (edited for clarity) thanks to the hard work of our friends in Kenya.

Project Updates

October, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Isaac Murila Shatsala

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 Irumbi to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point, Shatsala 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 the spring's landowner, Isaac Murila Shatsala, shared his story of how the coronavirus is impacting his life and his community.

Mr. Isaac Murila Shatsala

Field Officer Olivia Bomji met Isaac outside his home to conduct the interview. Both Olivia and Isaac observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Isaac's story, in his own words. You can also listen to much of Isaac's interview in the video below.

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

"We have benefited a lot because since the spring was constructed, we access clean and safe water. We no longer queue because the spring has 3 pipes so it takes less than a minute to fill 3 20-liter containers."

Clean water flows through Shatsala Spring's 3 discharge pipes

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

"I don't know what we would have done if Shatsala Spring had not been protected, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic since we have been using water more for drinking, washing clothes, and washing hands."

Isaac washes his hands at the spring

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, but we use more water than we used to before the COVID-19 pandemic. We fetch water more now because hygiene is of supreme importance."

Isaac next to his maize harvest drying in the sun

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

"COVID-19 has affected us in a positive way. Now we have learned to do more on handwashing. We used to ignore washing hands, but now we do it more frequently than it used to be done. We have learned the importance of hygiene."

The Shatsala Family at home

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

"We have ensured that all households own handwashing stations, keep social distance while fetching water, and avoid crowded 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 virus.

What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?

"Lifting of curfew hours from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm. At least now, people can work more to provide for their families."

Isaac with his mask on

What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?

"I am looking forward to the government to allow the learning institutions to open just for the finalists (students in the oldest year within each school level), so that they can prepare more for their examinations."

Isaac and his wife at home

When asked where he receives information about COVID-19, Isaac listed the radio, television, newspaper, 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 community members now wash hands before going to fetch water, and they keep 1-meter social distancing while fetching water at the spring. The training enlighted the community members more on the importance of hygiene by helping them make the tippy taps (for handwashing)."

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Irumbi Community, Shatsala 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 Irumbi, Kenya.

We trained more than 28 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.

October, 2019: Giving Update: Irumbi Community, Shatsala Spring

A year ago, your generous donation helped Irumbi Community in Kenya access clean water.

There’s an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water at Shatsala Spring in Irumbi. Month after month, their giving supports ongoing sustainability programs that help this community maintain access to safe, reliable water. Read more…

October, 2018: Irumbi Community Project Complete

Irumbi Community is celebrating their new protected spring, so celebrate with them! Shatsala Spring has been transformed into a flowing source of 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

Community members who use Shatsala Spring were all asked to attend hygiene and sanitation training. They were invited by our contact person, Sylvester, who walked door to door informing each of them that training would be held at his home. The attendance of 20 people was good, with almost all households represented.

Everyone was actively involved, although the men were more outspoken than the women. Generally, everyone was very interested in what was being said.

We covered several topics including but not limited to leadership and governance (participants started a water and sanitation committee); 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, and hygiene promotion. These participants will become ambassadors of healthy living among their own families and their greater community.

People enjoyed the session on handwashing. The participants were asked to demonstrate how they cleaned their hands, detailing each step of the process. Our trainer was then able to use the pitcher to show everyone how to improve their methods. Simply dipping your hands under running water will leave persistent germs.

One of the participants asked if it is possible to clean your hands if there is no one nearby to help you pour water from the pitcher. Another man said that it was totally possible and tried demonstrating to everyone. It proved to be a very tricky task, and so one of the facilitators showed everyone how to make a simple "hands-free" handwashing station to hang from a tree. But it was a windy day, so everyone burst into laughter seeing how the trainer had to follow the stream of water as the jug moved about.

The people seemed eager to put into action everything they had been taught, especially spring maintenance. They want to see clean water flowing for generations to come.

Sanitation Platforms

All five sanitation platforms have been installed and make wonderful, easy to clean latrine floors. These five families are happy about this milestone of having a latrine of their own. We are continuing to encourage families to finish building walls and roofs over their new latrine floors.

A pit being prepared for the sanitation platform and latrine to be build over it.

Spring Protection

The community members have already put up a fence to protect their water source. They have also cut down blue gum trees, which take in a lot of water. The community members have also planted grass behind the spring to prevent erosion.

Construction Process:

Community members provided all locally available construction materials, e.g bricks, wheelbarrows of clean sand, wheelbarrows of ballast, and gravel. It was hard to find enough stones to backfill the spring, which delayed the process a bit. Community members also hosted our artisans for the duration of construction.

Brick delivery!

The spring area was excavated with jembes, hoes, and spades 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 cured, 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 stones and sand and covered with a polyethylene membrane to eliminate any potential sources of contamination.

The concrete dried over the course of five days. With this spring now handed over to the community, we will continue to follow up with the water user committee to make sure everything runs smoothly. We are sure committee member Grace Ingosi will enforce the rules for the proper care and maintenance of Shatsala Spring:

"We are very happy that this spring has been protected and we shall ensure that it's maintained properly. Anyone found washing clothes here will be penalized!" exclaimed. We know that with Grace around, everyone will cherish and appreciate this valuable water source in Irumbi.

August, 2018: Irumbi Community Project Underway

Dirty water from Shatsala Spring is making people in Irumbi 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.

Giving Update: Irumbi Community, Shatsala Spring

October, 2019

A year ago, your generous donation helped Irumbi Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Joyce Vihenda. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Irumbi Community, Shatsala 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!

Field Officer Karen Maruti recently visited Shatsala Spring in Irumbi to check up on the spring and interview community members about the project's impact in its first year since completion. Allan shared the following reflection from her visit:

"The community members in this community are the happiest people since the protection of their spring. Shatsala is one of a few very high yielding springs that discharge water at 20 seconds per 20-liter container. The protection of this spring has saved the community members from the long queues that were experienced in the past waiting for water."

"The homes, on the other hand, looked well-kept and neat. A number of traditional latrines were also seen showing that the concept of sanitation platform replication had sunk home. These changes can only be attributed to the spring protection and hygiene training."

Joyce Vihenda is a member of the water committee in Irumbi and spent time with Field Officer Karen at the spring during her visit. Joyce shared the multifaceted impacts the spring protection has brought to her community.

"We are grateful that [even] though this spring serves a huge population of over 40 households, before protection there used to [be] a lot of congestion at the spring but now it's able to serve 3 people at a go. This has reduced congestion. We are thus no longer wasting time at the spring as the discharge is good and very little time is spent in fetching the water...I am now able to go and work on my farm full-time without fear of seeking for water. The water is also clean and this has reduced a lot of waterborne diseases, especially amongst our children."

Young boy enjoying the water from Shatsala Spring

16-year-old Ian Keya was also at the spring with Karen and Joyce. Ian reflected on what it means to him to now have clean, safe drinking water at home as a young person and student in his community with big dreams for his future.

"For me, I am thankful to this organization for protecting the spring for us. We have safe and clean drinking water. I used to suffer from stomachaches every day, but now it is a thing of the past. Thanks to [your team] for considering my community."

"I used to get to school late each day as a result of searching for water each morning. Now I no longer waste time and always on time. I am positive that I will perform better in the final Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations and achieve my dream of studying medicine...I would say that there have been minimal challenges since the spring was protected and we are very grateful for the support."

Field Officer Karen Maruti at the spring

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 Irumbi Community, Shatsala 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 Irumbi Community, Shatsala 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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