Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 224 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2019

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/02/2024

Project Features

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The Shamakhokho area (previously mislabeled as Butiti) is full of rural villages where community members practice farming on small pieces of land. Animals are domesticated, and a few community members have decided to try out small businesses as a source of income.

Fetching water, digging or weeding, feeding animals, and selling vegetables and spices in the marketplace are the activities that fill the day. People wake up at 5:30 am at the latest and go to bed by 10 pm.

There is no water at home for these 224 people. They've done what they can by rigging banana sheath gutters on the eaves of their homes to direct rainwater into buckets or small drums. The buckets are placed outside when it's raining and brought back inside when they're full. But when the rainwater is used up or it doesn't rain at all, people have to leave home in search of water - at least once a day.

They most often walk to Imbai Spring, where water has pooled up to the surface. This water sits completely unprotected from contamination. Animals come and go when they're thirsty and mud stirs up from the bottom each time a person dunks their container to fetch water.

Drinking both dirty rainwater and dirty water from Imbai Spring is causing waterborne diseases. A lot of time and money is wasted as community members regularly visit the local clinic looking for treatment.

"Lack of safe water is the main cause of poverty for us because if we save that money we have been wasting in hospitals to treat waterborne diseases, then we will use it to develop ourselves," said Mrs. Khalai.

What we can do:

Spring Protection

Community members have struggled to find a water solution for their village. They have moved from one government office to the next requesting help to protect Imbai Spring, but nobody was ready to help.

We will protect the spring to ensure that the water is safe, adequate, and secure. Construction will keep surface runoff and other contaminants out of the water. There will be stairs down to the collection point and a pipe that can easily fill water containers. 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.


"We need improvement in the area of sanitation and hygiene because this community seems not to care at all. Our people are comfortable and just assuming that protection of the spring will save them from diseases, but the state of sanitation and hygiene in this village is poor and needs to be addressed," said Mr. Imbai, the landowner living by Imbai Spring.

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.

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

Many homes here have built pit latrines out of wood. However, the latrines are never cleaned with water because the wooden floors are prone to rot.

On the final day of training, participants will select 5 families that should most benefit from new cement 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.

Project Updates

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Butiti Community, Imbayi 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 Butiti, 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.

November, 2019: Shamakhokho Community, Imbai Spring Project Complete!

Shamakhokho Community (previously mislabeled as Butiti) now has access to clean water! Imbai Spring has been transformed into a flowing source of water thanks to your donation. We protected the spring, provided 5 sanitation platforms to different households in the community, and we trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices.

Village Elder Damaris (in center with hands up) celebrates the new spring with her community

Spring Protection - "Whistle for Water"

As the saying goes, unity is strength, and so it was at Imbai Spring. The 3 village elders representing the 3 villages served by Imabi Spring across Shamakhokho (Mukhunya B, Bumavi, and Bumira) came together in mobilizing the community for spring construction. They engaged the best mobilization method of whistling as everyone in this village respects the whistle of the village elders. Whenever it is heard, all the community members come out in large numbers to hear what their local leaders have to say as they really believe in them.

Village elder whistles for her community to start mobilizing construction materials

The whistle worked for us very well. Each day as the village elder whistled, the women and men came running to the spring, each carrying either a stone, a brick, or availing themselves for helping out the artisans at the spring. What magic that the whistle ensured safe drinking water flowing from the spring. Networking and collaboration with all stakeholders on the ground was a key lesson learned for the success of any project.

Delivering materials to the construction site

The Process

Community members provided all locally available construction materials, including bricks, wheelbarrows of clean sand, stones, and fencing poles. Accommodations and meals were provided for the artisan, too.

Women and men 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 thick plastic tarp, wire mesh, and concrete. The community members came out in full to help the skilled artisan with this part of the construction, which is normally the heaviest part of the work. 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.

Building the spring walls brick by brick

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.

Looking at the spring from behind the headwall, yet to be backfilled

The source area was filled up with clean stones and sand and covered with a thick plastic tarp to prevent potential sources of contamination. With all preparations done on time and the weather being favorable, there were no delays through the entire spring construction process. It took about 2 weeks of patience for the concrete to dry.

Newly constructed Imbai Spring, complete with fencing and planted grass

As soon as it was ready, people got the okay from our field officers to begin fetching clean water. We met them there to celebrate this momentous occasion.

"Protection of Imbai Spring will improve the living standard of the people of Shamakhokho since they will no longer spend much time and resources in treating diseases caused by taking contaminated water," said Bumavi Village Elder Damaris Khalechi.

Bumavi Village Elder Damaris Khalechi

"The women in this community looked more enthusiastic about the new water point since they are the ones who are always on the receiving end. This happens mostly when the children fall sick and when they have to fetch water from the unprotected spring. With the African culture, men don't get so much involved in house chores which are termed as work for women. Having water flowing from the pipe has reduced time used to fetch water from the spring."

Sanitation Platforms

All 5 sanitation platforms have been installed. These 5 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.

Proud new sanitation platform owner

New Knowledge

Samuel Imbai, the spring's landowner and elected Chair of the water, sanitation, and hygiene committee, was tasked with organizing the training. This community had already elected their entire water committee leadership before construction began, which greatly helped in spreading the word about mobilizing the materials during construction and sending out the invitation for training.

This spring is also unique in that it serves community members from 3 different villages (Mukhunya B, Bumavi, and Bumira) thus the 3 village elders joined hands in mobilizing their communities for the spring construction and training. This combined group gave us the community’s preferred date for training, for they were very much aware of the community calendar when it comes to planting season and other big events.

When the training day arrived, however, we were surprised to see just 10 women prepared to learn. As it turns out, many people had come to learn but the men ended up being busy helping the artisan backfill the spring box. We decided to carry on with the training, asking the women who attended to spread the information to their neighbors who could not attend. (We also include follow-up trainings during our routine monitoring visits to all water points, so this community will be no exception in extending extra training if necessary.)

Training begins

The day of the training was sunny in the morning and toward the mid-morning, some clouds were experienced. We opted to sit under the trees close by the spring and the shade was so conducive for the training. On the other hand, the venue was also ideal since it was close to the spring. This way, the women were giving the men moral support as they continued to work on the backfilling while the men got to overhear what was being discussed as they worked.

We covered several topics including leadership and governance; operation and maintenance of the spring; healthcare; family planning; immunizations; and the prevention and spread of disease. We also covered water treatment methods, personal care like handwashing, environmental hygiene, hygiene promotion, and many other things.

Site management training at the spring

During the leadership and governance session, the facilitator first asked the participants what they understood about leadership and the qualities of a good leader. They stated that a good leader is one who does not sell the cement of the spring for their own profit before it can be used, like Mama Angelina, and everyone applauded! The election process was so interesting as Mama Angelina was automatically elected as the treasurer for being a faithful person who never sold the cement of the spring, while the Bumavi village elder Damaris Khalechi had been on the forefront in mobilization and they elected her as she is a tough and no-nonsense lady who cannot allow the spring to be dirty. After the election, Damaris categorically stated that “with the powers vested in me as the community health volunteer, no one and I mean no one will wash clothes at this spring again!”

Damaris fetching water from the spring

No sooner had the training ended than the village elder started saying that "Those women who come to wash their clothes here - be warned that it shall no longer be business as usual!" At that point, the women started mentioning the names of the women who are very stubborn as they wash their clothes daily at the spring, and the village elder promised to deal with them ceremoniously.

Dental hygiene has always been a topic of interest in this community, and as such our training on it was no exception. This is because our teeth play a key role in enhancing speech, chewing, and beauty and anyone who loses their teeth is bound to suffer in these 3 areas. Participants stated they use toothpaste that is hawked in the market as it is cheap, and some use salt as an alternative. The facilitator highlighted the importance of having healthy teeth through proper brushing and with the right tools at the right time.

Toothbrushing with a twig (left) and a toothbrush (right)

2 ladies made everyone smile while they plucked twigs around them from the eucalyptus trees and started brushing their teeth immediately when the topic was introduced. They had this to say after hearing the facilitator teaching about using the recommended toothpaste. "We never use Colgate but our teeth are strong since we brush daily using ash." We could tell everyone was really enjoying themselves with interactions and responses like this, sharing their knowledge and pride in the different topics.

Ready to walk home with clean water

"I am very proud as a village elder to be part of this project," said Damaris Khalechi, village elder of Bumavi.

"For [a] long [time] we have suffered drinking dirty water and the hygiene conditions of the water were very poor. We are glad the spring is protected and more so that I have been part of this training. As a local leader, I am informed more on hygiene, water, and sanitation matters that I will be confidently sharing during the chief's barazas (council meetings) and church meetings so that everyone in my village is enlightened on matters of hygiene. As the bible says, "My people perish for lack of knowledge," [but] it shall no longer be the saying in Bumavi. Thank you."

Thank you for making all of this possible!

November, 2019: Shamakhokho Community, Imbai Spring Project Underway!

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

Get to know this 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 news of success!

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: Shamakhokho Community, Imbai Spring

February, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shamakhokho 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!

"Before the project, the water was dirty and the place used to be very slippery; I used to fall down often."

"Now, I enjoy going to the spring. The place looks good and the water is cold and fresh."

"After playtime, we all go there to wash away the dirt before heading home to freshen up."

"I can say I'm healthier now since I don't get sore throats and coughs after drinking the water, unlike before."

Ian fetches water.

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 Shamakhokho 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 Shamakhokho 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.


1 individual donor(s)