Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 161 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/08/2024

Project Features

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It was a cold day on our first visit to Shivembe. We had to park our motorbike outside the village because the dirt paths are much too narrow and must be traversed on foot. Bananas, maize, and vegetables are planted on small farms along the path. Community members have semi-permanent houses made of mud.

This is such a rural area that's peaceful throughout the day. It only gets noisy around the spring when children go to fetch water after school, and when people come into the village for church on Sundays.

Tea farming is also popular here, but the farmers don't earn much from their crop. Women tend vegetable gardens from which they both get sustenance for their families and excess to sell in the local market. Some of the men specialize in making bricks that are sold to those undertaking construction projects in the area.

A normal day is filled with numerous chores, one of which is fetching water. The 161 people living here make numerous trips to Murumbi Spring to get water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, washing, watering animals and crops, and many other things.

Our search for Murumbi Spring led us to Mr. Ikudwa's home, and he immediately started taking us there. After walking for about five minutes, the sight of a person standing in a stream mixing mud with a spade appeared around the corner. Some logs were placed across the stream, and I assumed they act as a bridge for those walking along the path. They looked so weak that we wondered whether they could hold my weight.

Mr. Ikudwa greeted the man with the spade and of course we did the same. After standing there in silence for a minute, we asked Mr. Ikudwa to lead us to the spring. "It is here, this is the spring and this is how we usually clean it," he responded. His response was shocking. How on earth could this muddy place be where people get drinking water?

We began to converse and learned this is what the community calls 'cleaning the spring.' They push mud out and downstream. The man finished his cleaning job and stepped out. It took about 30 minutes for people to start arriving with their water containers, and it was so sad to see them fetch this water for drinking.

This visibly dirty water is affecting the health of its consumers. Community members report diarrhea as a common problem that needs to be treated with medication from the local clinic. The time and money spent treating a sick family members is inhibiting the community's ability to be productive and experience development as they should.

"We have many cases of stomach distress, most of which are dealt with locally. This challenge leads to wastage of our money and time when we move about looking for treatment. The community members will appreciate your contribution in protection of our spring because it will rescue us from diseases," said Mr. Ikudwa.

What we can do:

Spring Protection

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.


People are not aware of steps they can take to better care for themselves and their environment. Mosquito nets were not seen hanging over beds, but instead fencing in gardens to keep the chickens out. Trash is just thrown at the edge of the farms, which can be blown back around the community when it's windy.

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 (including the use of mosquito nets!). 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

Most homes have a pit latrine made of mud and wood. These cannot be cleaned with water since it affects the integrity of the materials and puts the user in danger of falling through the floor to the pit. Those without a pit latrine of their own have befriended neighbors and user theirs instead.

On the final day of training, participants will select five 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 Shivembe Community, Murumbi 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 Shivembe, Kenya.

We trained more than 9 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.

February, 2020: Shivembe Community, Murumbi Spring Project Complete!

Shivembe Community now has access to clean water! Murumbi Spring has been transformed into a flowing source of water thanks to your donation. We protected the spring, constructed 5 sanitation platforms for different households in the community, and we trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices.

A woman smiles while fetching water from protected Murumbi Spring

Spring Protection

Mr. David Murumbi, the spring's landowner, has lived in Shivembe for the past 48 years - since he was born - and has drunk water from the unprotected spring the whole time. When our staff first approached him during a visit to the community, Mr. Murumbi stated that he was "not ready to be lied to" and thus was a bit resistant to give them the required information about the spring.

The community members knew this about Mr. Murumbi and branded him as the "Doubting Thomas" as he never believed the spring would truly be protected. He argued that for many years, this community had been used by others with the pretense that their spring would be protected, but nothing had ever happened for so many years. Even when the water sample was collected - the last step before construction - Mr. Murumbi doubted the project.

"I will only believe in you people when I see the lorry bringing in the hardware materials," he said. Finally, on the day that the hardware materials were delivered to the spring site, the Doubting Thomas believed!

Mr. David Murumbi, spring landowner

It took Mr. Murumbi seeing the hardware delivery to notify the rest of his community that it was now time to mobilize the materials they had collected for construction. These included bricks, wheelbarrows of clean sand, and stones. Community members worked together to bring their materials to the spring site, carrying most items by hand. Accommodations and meals were provided for the artisan, too, who arrived the following day to officially begin work.

The Process

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. 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.

Artisans and community members set the concrete foundation for the spring

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.

Rub wall and stair construction

The source area was filled up with clean stones and sand and covered with a thick plastic tarp to prevent potential sources of contamination. Then soil was layered on top of the tarp so that community members could transplant grass to prevent erosion.

The only step of construction that saw some delays was the final step of fencing in the collection area, which we tried to do during training. Most of the attendees were women since most of the men had kept working on their farms that day. When Facilitator Karen Maruti asked how many women owned trees, they all lifted their hands. She then requested them to each bring a pole for fencing, but they declined.

The women explained that the trees technically belonged to their husbands, and culturally if a woman cuts her husband's tree, she would offend their ancestors. The wife would then have to bring a chicken back to her household to appease the ancestors. Since no one wanted to purchase a chicken, we waited until enough men from the community willingly chopped down some branches from their trees. Eventually, we had enough poles to successfully complete the fencing.

Fencing and grass planting

It took about 2 weeks of patience for the concrete to dry. 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. Not least of whom to voice their excitement for the newly protected spring was Mr. Murumbi himself.

"I am so happy that our spring is protected. In the past, many people [told] us that our spring will be protected but it was never fruitful. We drank dirty water and suffered waterborne diseases. We thank God for you who were God-sent to us to protect the spring. I will personally ensure that this spring is well maintained," he said.

A girl enjoys the spring water

"We have always drunk water from an open source and many of us have been suffering from typhoid since the spring was open; when it rained, heavy water could overflow into the spring and contaminate it. But we thank you for protecting this spring and we know it will save us the cost of medication," added Ruth Ashitiva, a farmer in the community.

Sanitation Platforms

During each day of construction at the spring, the artisan cast a sanitation platform as well. Since then, all 5 sanitation platforms have been installed in families' compounds. These 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.

New sanitation platform owners

New Knowledge

Community member David Murumba, the landowner of the spring (and also the security officer for Imusutsu High School) helped organize the training in coordination with our team. Together we found the community’s preferred date for training while considering other events in the community calendar such as the agricultural season and expected gatherings.

Since the vast majority of the people in Shivembe village are farmers, at the time of training we knew some would be plucking tea leaves, some weeding, and others harvesting maize. Because of the busy season, we were not anticipating a large group at training but we were impressed when 15 people left their work on the farm and came to training. Though the training began an hour late as people gathered, their participation throughout the rest of the day made up for it.

Handwashing practice

Being a sunny morning, we looked for shade under a tree near the spring. This was a good place for the training as during the practical sessions we could easily pop down to the spring for water. Though there were fewer men than women at the training, the men in attendance mentioned that the women wasted a lot of time in the past at the spring and they therefore wanted to participate fully in the protection process so that they could save them the time for other productive activities.

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 discussed water treatment methods, personal care like handwashing, environmental hygiene, hygiene promotion, and many other things.

A man volunteers to demonstrate toothbrushing

The dental hygiene topic became interesting when the facilitator, Karen Maruti, asked how many participants use the toothpaste from local vendors as opposed to standard brands such as Colgate. All of them raised their hands and stated that they do so because it is normally cheap. Karen then asked one participant to read the instructions on the Colgate toothpaste and it stated that it should be "stored in a cool dry place." Karen asked the participants if the vendors' paste is stored in a cool dry place and everyone stated that it is hawked under the sun from market to market. Realizing the risks of consuming the overheated paste, at this point all of the participants started murmuring amongst themselves that they were going to throw away the market paste and buy the standard paste.

"Personally, I loved buying the hawkers' toothpaste without realizing that I was exposing my family to [chemicals]. I am going to throw that paste away and buy the recommended one. I will also train other women in my chamaa (cooperative investment group) to use the recommended paste," said Ruth Ashitiva, a farmer in the community.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

January, 2020: Shivembe Community, Murumbi Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Murumbi Spring is making people in Shivembe 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: Shivembe Community, Murumbi Spring

February, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shivembe 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 protection of Murumbi Spring, our water was ever-dirty and full of algae. Fetching was also a challenge as one had to step in the water as you fetched it. I had to wake up very early each morning in order to get clean water before it got contaminated."

"Life now is good as I come to fetch water any time of the day. The water is also clean and we enjoy drinking it. We do not worry whenever it rains as our water never gets contaminated."

"I am a businesswoman who buys and sells cereals in our local market. In the past, I would delay going to the market as I waited to fetch water first. But being late to the market as a businesswoman means missing the best goods that arrive early, and thus making low sales."

"Since the burden of fetching water was lifted, I leave early on market days and even if I arrive home late in the evening, I am still able to get clean water."

A young girl named Angel leaving Murumbi Spring with 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 Shivembe 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 Shivembe 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.


Lorean and Anisha Ledesma
2 individual donor(s)