Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 140 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2019

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/06/2024

Project Features

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Ataku Community sits at the end of a rough dirt road full of potholes. It is a rural and peaceful area located about 16 kilometers from our main office. The community has filled the land with farms that yield maize, beans, sugarcane, and various vegetables.

A normal day begins as early as 5am when parents wake up to prepare their children for school. Women take responsibility for house chores, making breakfast, and washing up after. If the family owns animals, they will feed them or take them out to graze. The rest of the morning hours are spent on the farm.

Several trips to fetch water are made in preparation for lunch. The 140 community members living in this part of Ataku Community walk to Ngache Spring to get their water. There's lots of water at the spring, but the water is dirty.

''During the evenings when the children are back home from school, getting clear, clean (visibly clean, but contaminated nonetheless) water is hard since the children step directly inside the spring because they might be in a hurry to go home and finish chores," said Mrs. Mukhati. The kids carelessly stir up mud from the bottom that makes it harder for others to fetch their water. But they have no other choice.

People drink this dirty water and then suffer from waterborne sicknesses. Typhoid and many other illnesses keep community members off their farms and in their beds, and they keep children from attending school. Families spend any of their potential earnings on buying the medication they need to treat typhoid and cholera.

Mrs. Irine Mukhati's Passion

Irine Mukhati is a resident who fetches water from Ngache Spring. She told us that her community had never liked any kind of development, believing that anyone who comes from their village does not have the ability to be successful. There was one time Mrs. Irine tried to help the community get electricity, but when they were told to sacrifice a few inches of their land for electricity poles to pass through they completely refused. They were not even taking education seriously, thinking that a child can learn up to to class 8 and that's all as long as he or she knows how to write and read. Mrs. Irine persisted in talking with her community, telling them to look at neighboring villages and see how people around them are developing. They allow their children to get a higher education and give back to their communities. Some have clean water. It's through her hard efforts of encouraging and mobilizing the community that the people around her have a transformed perspective; they now see the importance of education and development projects such as spring protections.

What we can do:

"Some of the people in the community have latrines but not good quality, while others have no latrines so they share with neighbors. These latrines during the rainy season sink, and there is even a case where one of the latrines sank while someone was inside but gladly people were around and they immediately rescued her," recounted Mrs. Weka.

"The majority of the community members throw their garbage in the shamba (farm)."


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

On the final day of training, participants will select five families that should most 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.

Project Updates

July, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Catherine Waka

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.

Catherine Waka is a 53-year-old farmer in Ataku Village. As a grandmother who lost her son and daughter-in-law, she now takes care of her 6 grandchildren, whom she simply refers to as her children.

Catherine also serves as the Treasurer of the Ngache Spring Water User Committee. With her grandchildren now at home, Catherine knows her family - and the young ones in particular - really benefit from the clean water of Ngache Spring.

Catherine works in her kitchen garden.

Our team recently visited Ataku to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point. 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.

Catherine (right) asks a question at a COVID-19 prevention training in June.

It was during this most recent visit that Catherine shared her story of how the coronavirus has impacted her his life.

Team member David Muthama met Catherine outside her home to conduct the interview. Both David and Catherine observed social distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. Their questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.

Catherine meets David at the entrance to her homestead.

What is one thing that has changed in your community since the protection of Ngache Spring?

"One thing that has changed in my community is that we are now drinking clean, safe water. Even if you send a young child, you are sure to get clean, safe water from the spring, unlike before. Even animals could interfere with the water, and to a child there is no difference, water is water. I had to sieve it before using it. I am also grateful to your team who visit us from time to time; it's good to know we have people who think about us."

Catherine fetches water from Ngache Spring.

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

"I can wash my hands every now and then since water is available in plenty. Even when it rains, the water still remains clean."

Catherine washes her hands with soap and water from Ngache Spring at 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?

"Yes, it has changed. I used to gather for stories at the drawing point and socialize for some time, mostly after I had finished all my chores. But as for now, I have to wait for one person to finish to fetch water, then after fetching go home - there's no crowding like before."

One of Catherine's granddaughters fetches water from Ngache Spring.

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

"For my family, I am glad to be far away from the hotspots since no cases have been reported so far in Kakamega County. But as for my children, they can no longer go to school and this is affecting their self-esteem."

Catherine poses with 4 of her 6 grandchildren and her husband.

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

"I used to depend on small jobs that would help me sustain my family, but since the outbreak of COVID-19, it is very hard to come by such jobs, and if so, payment is always a problem. Times have become so hard for me."

Catherine quenches her animals' thirst with water from Ngache Spring.

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

"There are no unnecessary visits to people's homesteads. Even if you are closely related, we no longer have the small meets like group meetings, burials, and drinking sprees like before. We are social distancing, even at the spring when fetching water; handwashing with soap at home as many times as possible to keep away the virus; wearing masks always, and if I forget mine I have to go back home and get it or buy one since it is mandatory to wear one whenever I am away from my home."

Catherine washes her hands with soap and water from Ngache Spring using a leaky tin handwashing station she set up outside her home.

Have any COVID-19-related restrictions been lifted since they began in Kenya?


What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?

"Lockdown. I am happy that all the counties that were under lockdown are no longer locked since the president did that yesterday."

Catherine shows her homemade mask.

What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?

"The curfew from 9:00 pm to 4:00 am, and also being allowed to go back to church in large numbers. Now they are saying we only have 1 hour for church, and no singing; I am not happy about that."

Catherine puts on her mask.

When asked where she receives information about COVID-19, Catherine listed the radio, loudspeaker/megaphone announcements, word of mouth, short messages from mobile subscribers, and our team's sensitization training.

Catherine uses her shoe to help sweep plant stalks from the spring steps while her grandchildren wait their turn to fetch water.

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

"Washing hands with clean water and soap. Honestly, we just knew washing hands is simple but through the training, we learned there are key areas to pay attention to."

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

Team Leader Emmah in mask and gloves leads training

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.

Community members practice social distancing as a requirement of attending training

We trained more than 12 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.

Staff members wear full personal protective equipment and practice social distancing throughout 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.

Handwashing demonstration with the new leaky tin

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. 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.

Irine, Chair of the Water User Committee, demonstrates 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.

Mr. Ingache listens in at training

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.

August, 2019: Ataku Community, Ngache Spring Project Complete!

Ataku Community now has clean water! Ngache 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 done on sanitation and hygiene.

Happy faces

"W" is for water!

Spring Protection

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

Community member brings stones, one at a time, to the construction site

The Process

Men and women lent their strength to the artisan to help him with manual labor. The construction process began by clearing the sugar-cane around the spring area so as to avoid contamination and also to clearly expose the eye. The spring area was then 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.

Preparing clay


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.

Cementing the headwall

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

Almost done!

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. By the look on community members' faces, it seemed all were very happy with the new project.

Women arrive to see the completed project

'The community of Ataku Village is very glad [that] we are going to access safe drinking water...We believe there will be minimal cases [of] waterborne diseases and contamination from animals, and small children [are] no longer [at risk for] their health," said Mama Catherine Mandila Lukamasia.

Catherine is not only a farmer and caretaker in the village but she also now serves as the Treasurer of the spring's water committee.

Handing over ceremony with Field Officer David, Catherine (right), and another community member

Standing proud

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.

Casting a sanitation platform

Catherine's family was one of the five families the community chose to receive a new sanitation platform.

"I really appreciate and give thanks to [you] for equipping my family and l in getting a sanitation platform," Catherine said.

"The condition [of] the previous toilet which my family and l were using was very uncomfortable to get in because the log for stepping on was very old and could have sunk in any time...Thanks to you, we now have dug a new pit and we shall have no shame to use it and [build] a superstructure. This is a new chapter for my family and l, and also for my guests."

Catherine and her family with their new sanitation platform

New Knowledge

Catherine Mandila Lukamasia, the treasurer of the spring's water committee, was tasked with organizing the training. She gave us the community’s preferred date for training, for she was very much aware of the community calendar when it comes to planting season and other big events.

Questions arise at training

Some 28 people showed up for training, 24 of whom were women. This was a strong showing, demonstrating the community's interest in their new water point and their commitment to improving their sanitation and hygiene.

The training took place at Mzee Ngache's homestead under a tree, where the community members came together for the afternoon. This place was the best location because it was a central place for the community members and the home was only about 100 meters from Ngache Spring.

Trainer Protus in action

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.

Trainer Lynnah leads a handwashing activity

There was active participation during the entire training, whether community members were asking and answering questions from the facilitators, or from other participants. There was a good discussion among participants during the personal and environmental hygiene sessions in particular, with people volunteering examples of how they try to maintain hygiene in their personal lives.

Group discussion

Site management training

Live demonstrations of the different training topics helped a majority of the participants present to realize that they had been doing things like handwashing and toothbrushing incorrectly. Questions about what to do if one cannot afford to buy toothpaste or a new toothbrush even prompted a discussion on using thread instead, being gentle so as to not hurt or damage the gums and teeth.

Community member responds to a question

'This training today has enabled me to learn [a lot] such as the way to wash my hands using the ten steps of [handwashing]," said Dinah Khakali, a stay-at-home mom in the village.

"Not only that, I have learned germs do hide between my fingers and in the nails."

Thank you for making all of this possible!

July, 2019: Ataku Community, Ngache Spring Project Underway

Dirty water from Ngache Spring is making people in Ataku Community sick. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to solve this issue by building a clean water point and much more.

Get to know this community through the community profile and pictures we’ve posted, and learn more about this water, sanitation, and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out soon 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: Ataku Community, Ngache Spring

February, 2021

A year ago, your generous donation helped Ataku Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Irene. 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 2.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Ataku Community 2 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 protection, fetching water from the spring was very hard and muddy, and sometimes during the rainy season, you could slide and get hurt. The method I used to fetch water was down on the ground and there was no drawing point. Whenever I had to fetch water, I had to wait for it to clear because when one person used to fetch, the water was disturbed and I had to wait for it to settle, then fetch."

"After protection, it has really simplified and helped me since I come to the spring six times a day to get water in twenty-liter jerrycans. It has made fetching water fun."

"My parents' vegetables during the dry season are healthy since I can manually water the vegetables, and I can even plan to do laundry many times a week."

Irene fetches water while other community members wait in line 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 Ataku Community 2 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 2 – 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.


Henniker Congregational Church
Henniker Congregational Church
SNHU World Water Day Celebration
2 individual donor(s)