Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 350 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/07/2024

Project Features

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Shikhombero Village is located in a very remote, rural vicinity and looks very green due to the availability of crops on the farms, trees around home compounds, and vegetation including flowers and grass. The area is very peaceful as there are no nearby markets or busy roads, just the sound of birds singing. There is a mixture of housing types, some with stones and others with mud and grass-thatched roofs. Once a gold mining community, today the majority of households practice subsistence agriculture growing crops such as maize, beans, and local vegetables. Some families grow sugarcane as a cash crop, and there is also a culture of bullfighting in this community which draws some income to the area.

A typical day in Shikhombero starts as early as 5:30 am. Some people head straight to their farms for work, while others - predominantly women - fetch water for their families, make breakfast for their households, and prepare their children for school.

The women represent 50 households and approximately 350 people who depend on Atondola Spring for their daily water needs. In its unprotected state, the spring is completely open and contaminated with green algae growing inside it. Surface runoff carrying chemicals from nearby farms, animal waste, and human waste are just some of the pathogens entering the water source, in addition to the dirt and bacteria lingering on people's containers and hands as they have to submerge their containers just to fill them up. The spring is also a favored drinking spot for the local dogs and other animals.

Though there is a chlorine dispenser present intended to help people treat the dirty spring water, it is normally empty since many people prefer to use the chlorine as a detergent for laundering instead. There is disagreement within the community about whether their common illnesses are in fact caused by the spring water or not - hence the chlorine dispenser's alternative use.

"We risk consuming water from this source, even though it is open because we do not have any other option. We rely on this source. Sometimes I feel so weak and unable to do my normal chores because of the water I drink from this spring," said Mr. Cavilah, a farmer in the community.

For a long time, community members have suffered from water-related diseases such as typhoid and amoeba. The nearest health center is far away and usually does not have the proper drugs to attend to such diseases, so people are forced to go to the main hospital in Kakamega Town if they choose to seek treatment. Unfortunately, due to the hospital's distance and cost, most usually cannot afford the visit and risk their health at home. Some are not so lucky in this gamble.

There is good news about Atondola Spring, however. It has never gone dry before, even in one of the harshest dry seasons on record last year. It is a high yielding spring and serves a large population. It is surrounded by indigenous trees, free of eucalyptus which is notorious for their high level of water consumption and ability to lower water tables. This means Atondola Spring is a great candidate for protection.

What We Can Do:

Spring Protection

Protecting the spring will help provide access to cleaner and safer water. 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 a task predominantly carried out by women and young girls, who are often deprived of other activities due to the time it takes to complete this chore. Protecting the spring and offering training and support will, therefore, help empower the female members of the community by freeing up more of their time and energy to engage and invest in income-generating activities and their education.


We will hold a 1-day intensive training on improved hygiene, health, and sanitation habits in this community. With the community’s input, we will identify key leverage points where they can alter their practices at the personal, household, and community levels to affect change. This training will help to ensure participants have the knowledge they need about healthy practices and their importance to make the most of their water point as soon as the water is flowing.

Our team of facilitators will use Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST), Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), group discussions, handouts, and demonstrations at the spring to cover a wide variety of topics.

One of the most important issues 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 is consumed. We will also emphasize the importance of handwashing. We and the community strongly believe that all of these components will work together to improve living standards here, which will help to unlock the potential for these community members to live better, healthier lives.

We will then conduct a series of follow-up trainings before transitioning to our regularly scheduled support visits throughout the year.

Training will result in the formation of a committee, elected by their peers, that will oversee the operations and maintenance of the spring. The committee 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 channels. The fence will keep out destructive animals and unwanted waste, and the drainage will keep the area’s mosquito population at a minimum.

Sanitation Platforms

"Most people here do not have latrines - how can they clean them?" stated Emily Atena, a farmer in the community.

The few latrines that exist in Shikhombero are shared among neighbors and risky to use. With mud floors, they become slippery when wet and are therefore almost unusable during the rainy season - half the year. Because it is difficult fetching enough water from the spring in its current state for drinking, cooking, and cleaning, there is rarely water allotted for cleaning the latrines. There are even fewer handwashing stations, let along the water or a cleaning agent to use them. Hence, the sanitation conditions here are poor.

At the end of the training, participants will select 5 families that should benefit from new concrete latrine floors called sanitation platforms. Training will inform the community and selected families on what they need to contribute to make this project a success. They must mobilize locally available materials, including bricks, clean sand, and gravel. The 5 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. The families will then be asked to complete their latrines by constructing a superstructure over their platforms. These 5 sanitation platforms will then serve as examples for the rest of the community to replicate.

Project Updates

July, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Serilah Nyawanga

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.

"53-year-old Serilah looks tired and worn out," stated Training Officer Jacquey Kangu with concern while reflecting on her recent interview of Serilah Nyawanga.

Serilah Nyawanga stands outside her homestead to greet us.

Serilah lives in the village of Shikhombero in Western Kenya, where our team recently visited to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their protected water source, Atondola 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.

Serilah (right) stands with her children at home during the pandemic.

Serilah agreed to meet with us while observing all COVID-19 precautions and showed us how her daily life has changed since the virus came to Kenya earlier this year.

"This is a lady we met during spring protection and training who was vibrant and happy, but a few months after the pandemic, she looks different. She misses her husband, who can no longer visit, but of much more concern is that she is just a farmer and her husband used to supplement the income by taking care of the family. Now that he is not working, there is no financial assistance, so she has had to seek alternative ways to take care of the family."

"Yes, it is evident that COVID-19's impact has really changed not only Serilah but the entire community of Shikhombero," Jacquey said.

Serilah reaches for the soap at her home handwashing station.

"We are living under fear and worry. Life has really hardened due to the tough economic situation," said Serilah. At the time of Serilah's interview, the capital city Nairobi was still under lockdown. Her husband, who usually works there and sends money home, could neither leave nor work due to the lockdown.

Handwashing at home

"My son left for Homa Bay County for manual work just a few weeks ago. My prayer is that he keeps safe and does not contract the virus since we (Kenya) have positive cases there. My school-going children are home with me, which is not supposed to be so...I have a fear for my children that they are losing study time when they are home."

Serilah shows her mask before putting it on.

The one thing that has remained constant for Serilah throughout the pandemic is her access to clean and safe water from Atondola Spring.

"We are using safe and clean water. Imagine washing hands with dirty water, or using dirty water! I would be very worried since COVID-19 [is not kind] to dirty [hands]."

"Nowadays I have to observe hygiene like washing hands with soap and cleaning the containers before fetching water. I never used to do these before the pandemic; I am keener on hygiene to keep the virus away."

Serilah puts on her mask.

"Matters of hygiene and sanitation and mask-making training has really been helpful. [We are now] washing hands thoroughly with soap and water as many times as possible, keeping away from social places like funerals, and wearing face masks whenever we leave our homes."

Serilah actively participates in the COVID-19 refresher training we held in Shikhombero on the day of her interview.

Training Officer Jacquey confirmed that "the community is so grateful for the clean water since it helps them to carry out hygiene and sanitation. The community members who attended the [COVID-19] training seemed to be knowledgeable about matters concerning COVID-19 since all of them came wearing face masks."

Our team continues to monitor Atondola Spring to ensure that Serilah and every community member in Shikhombero maintain their vital connection to good hygiene and sanitation during the pandemic: clean water.

Respond with us to provide essential services and support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Shikhombero Community, Atondola 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 heads the 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 Shikhombero, Kenya.

Trainer Betty in action

We trained more than 10 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.

Everyone must observe social distancing at 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.

Betty leads handwashing demonstration

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.

"Really scrub your palms," says Betty

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.

A woman 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.

A boy scrubs his fingernails while handwashing

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: Shikhombero Community, Atondola Spring Project Complete!

Shikhombero Community now has access to clean water! Atondola 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.

Community members together with field officers celebrate the completion of Atondola Spring

Spring Protection

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.

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.

Field Officer Laodia confirms headwall measurements during construction

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 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. Finally, the collection area was fenced in.

Artisan works on stone pitching

The only setback during the entire construction process was the weather. Being the rainy season, the artisan had to do much of his work in the morning to give enough time for the cement to dry before the afternoon rains set in each day. The rains also made travel on the muddy roads challenging for our team to get in and out of the village, so they sometimes had to wait until the sun had been out for several hours in the morning to partially dry out the roads before they could pass.

Eventually, however, thanks to the patience, hard work, and dedication of everyone involved, the work came to a close at Atondola Spring. 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.

Field Officer Laodia officially hands over Atondola Spring to community members

The handing over ceremony was full of joy, happiness, and thanksgiving. The community members gathered around the spring while dancing, singing, and praising God and our team for their helping hand in protecting the water for the community. (To see and hear the celebration, check out the video on the Photos tab of this project page!)

Singing and dancing to celebrate flowing water at newly completed Atondola Spring

"Thank you so much and may the Lord God bless you, the organization. You are the best group that has shown patience and good heart. You have helped us so much [and] we have nothing to give but God will give you the desires of your heart," said a joyous Julieta Kayalwa, a farmer in the community.

Fetching water from the protected spring

Sanitation Platforms

All 5 sanitation platforms have been installed. The new proud new sanitation platform owners, nominated by their neighbors, were James Amboso, Pius Mmboyi, Henry Ingenya, Gladys Mmboyi, and Julieta Kayalwa. These 5 community members and their 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 owner of a sanitation platform

New Knowledge

Community member Pius Mmboyi, who would be elected Chair of the water user committee, 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.

18 people attended training, including community health workers and the community ward representative present, too. The turn out was a bit low for the community compared to the number of spring users since many people could not come away from the harvesting season on their farms to break for the training. Those who came said they were trying to balance their time on the farm and at the training to ensure that they have both food for the stomach as well as food for the brain.

Participant demonstrates toothbrushing after Trainer Elvin, right, demonstrated the proper technique

It was so sunny on the morning of training that we decided to conduct the event at Mama Serilah's home instead of at the spring to afford some shade. We were most welcomed by Mama Serilah and the environment was so conducive for learning. Later we went to the spring site to do the site management portion of training.

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. All of the participants were interested in each topic as shown by the way they asked the instructors questions and participated fully.

A participant presents her group's brainstorm on leadership next to Trainer Betty (left)

In the leadership and governance portion of the day,  participants split into groups to brainstorm the different traits that some leaders display. There was a good discussion on the need for a leader to be a person who is ready and willing to serve others and take responsibility and authority on behalf of others. The groups then discussed the different character traits of particular animals such as hyenas, lions, and monkeys, among others. Each group made a presentation on their ideas about the animals' traits before electing the leadership positions for their water user committee. This entire process helped the group elect their leaders wisely based on thorough evaluations of the characteristics for the people they had in mind for each position.

Laodia leads the handwashing session with a volunteer demonstrator

The handwashing session was the most special part of training. Our facilitators were impressed to hear community members report that they already tried to wash their hands in the morning when they woke up and before every meal. The trainer encouraged them to regularly wash their hands with soap to kill disease-causing germs after every activity such as after visiting the toilet, before breastfeeding, and eating any food. The 10 handwashing steps challenged most of the participants since they had not been following any technical steps before, but after some time they enjoyed the process and did it practically and perfectly by themselves.

Thumbs up for clean water readily available

In our discussion on income-generating activities, community members promised to come up with a group project that will enable them to generate income toward sustainability of the spring project should any small funds be necessary for future repairs. They proposed to rear chickens at their homesteads, sell them when they mature, and use the proceeds as savings for future needs of the spring and also to empower themselves financially.

"I am happy to be here today to learn more about hygiene and how I can be healthy and live longer. I will share the information with others to promote hygiene," said Ernest Inganu, a farmer who attended the training.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

January, 2020: Shikhombero Community, Atondola Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Atondola Spring is making people in Shikhombero 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 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: Shikhombero Community, Atondola Spring

February, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shikhombero 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!

"We used to strain drawing water since the spring was clogged. And we also used to get dirty due to the mud and other wastes in it."

"Now, we can easily access water that is clean and safe since the soil cannot block the water point. It has also helped us to live healthy lives, which helps us to go on with our normally planned activities."

"It is now easy to draw water in the shortest time possible without queueing. It has also helped us to be protected against contracting diseases."

Water flows at Atondola 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 Shikhombero 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 Shikhombero 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.


Project Sponsor - The Hangsleben's