Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 210 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Dec 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 07/08/2023

Project Features

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"Since the onset of the Corona pandemic, water demand has increased because everyone has to wash their hands often. This has made me come to the spring more often than before due to this high water demand," explained young primary school student Rebecca.

But the spring she relies on cannot give her clean water, so the effectiveness of Rebecca's handwashing - and consequently, her steps to prevent COVID-19 -  are compromised. The 210 other community members in Shitavita who are relying on Patrick Burudi Spring for their daily water needs face the same setback.

Water from Patrick Burudi Spring may appear to be clean at first glance, but upon collecting it, there is noticeable small debris at the bottom of community members' jerrycans. Then there are the many invisible contaminants in the water - farm chemicals and toxins from animal waste carried in by surface runoff, for example. The water is not safe for consumption, yet because it never goes dry unlike some other seasonal water sources, it is heavily relied upon.

Community members tried protecting the spring on their own at one point, but without technical knowledge of the process, they were not successful in blocking out contaminants and their results were not what they had hoped. Also, access to the spring is very slippery and muddy, especially during the rainy season, because there is no intervention in place such as stairs or walkways to ease getting in and out of the spring.

Consuming this spring water leads to many individuals getting sick, thus affecting the workforce and children's ability to attend school. Money has to be spent on medical expenses to treat these water-related illnesses, which would have otherwise been utilized to improve the living standards of the spring users.

According to 25-year-old farmer and member of the spring landowning family, Isaac Burudi, waterborne and water-related diseases are rampant in the area, especially during the rainy season of the year. A majority of community members during that period contract typhoid, diarrhea, and coughing.

"The water is not very safe for me because it is not protected well; only the pipe discharging water was inserted into the reservoir to help us access water more easily rather than fetching using jugs," Isaac said.

Women have to wake up very early in the morning to try to fetch water before it inevitably gets dirtier as the day goes on and more people fetch it. Starting to fetch water as early as 6:00 am is also essential if they want to collect enough water for their morning needs and still have time for other engagements such as their farming or house chores. Waiting their turn to collect water, however, always has to take precedence over anything else they might want to do.

What We Can Do:

Spring Protection

Protecting the spring will help provide access to cleaner and safer water and reduce the time people have to spend to fetch it. 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. 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.

Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19, and More

To hold trainings during the pandemic, we work closely with both community leaders and the local government to approve small groups to attend training. We ask community leaders to invite a select yet representative group of people to attend training who will then act as ambassadors to the rest of the community to share what they learn. We also communicate our expectations of physical distancing and wearing masks for all who choose to attend.

The training will focus on improved hygiene, health, and sanitation habits in this community. We will also have a dedicated session on COVID-19 symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention best practices.

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 water is flowing.

Our team of facilitators will use a variety of methods to train community members. Some of these methods include participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation, asset-based community development, group discussions, handouts, and demonstrations at the spring.

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 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 small series of follow-up trainings before transitioning to our regularly scheduled support visits throughout the year.

Training will result in the formation of a water user 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

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

December, 2020: Shitavita Community, Patrick Burudi Spring Project Complete!

Shitavita Community now has access to clean water! Patrick Burudi Spring has been transformed into a flowing source of water thanks to your donation. We protected the spring, constructed five sanitation platforms for different households in the community, and trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices, including COVID-19 prevention.

Protected Patrick Burudi Spring

"I will be getting clean water for drinking and domestic use as well as using it for food production. Besides those safe, clean water is very good for our health. Hence, it will positively impact my life and not be spending my resources treating waterborne and water-related diseases. This will translate to improved living standards," said village elder Sasaka Burudi.

"Since I will not be spending or wasting my resources treating waterborne and water-related diseases, definitely I will have something to aid in accomplishing my dream of owning a zero-grazing cattle system. The reliable water will be of many benefits like using it for cattle drinking as well as cleaning the cow pens and shed."

Sasaka Burudi

The newly elected water user committee chair, Misiko Wawire, was pleased and appreciative of the spring's protection. He said that they had great challenges in the past at their spring and could never fetch clean water. But with the completion of the spring's protection, Msiko said, these challenges had also come to an end.

Clean water flows from double discharge pipes at Patrick Burudi Spring

Children were just as excited as the adults about the new water point.

"For me, now that I am accessing safe water, I will be health-wise good because safe and clean water means good life. Patrick Burudi Spring coming to completion also means that the waterborne and water-related diseases have ended. Since I will not be a victim of waterborne diseases anymore, I will not be missing going to school, hence translating to good performance in school," reported primary school-aged girl Mirrium.

Girls drinking water from the spring

Preparing for Spring Protection

Community members worked together to source and carry all locally available construction materials to the spring. These included bricks, sand, stones, and fencing poles. Some people also chiseled away at large stones to break them down into gravel. Because people have to carry most items by hand, the materials collection process can take anywhere from a few weeks to months.

Boys carry bricks to the spring construction site

When everything was prepared, we sent a lorry to the community to deliver the rest of the construction materials, including the cement, plastic tarps, and hardware. Then, our artisan and field officers deployed to the spring to begin work. Everyone traveled to and from the work site each day throughout the construction process, so individual households provided meals throughout the day to sustain the workers.

Offloading sand near the spring

The last step before construction commenced was taking a water sample from the unprotected spring. We sent the sample to a government laboratory for testing to identify the kinds of contaminants in the water before its protection. These often include fertilizers and pesticides from farms, animal and human feces, and any number of harmful bacteria. We then shared the test results with the community to identify extra steps they could take to help ensure the spring’s water remains clean and safe after protection.

From Open Source to Protected Spring: A Step-by-Step Process

At last, it was time to dig in at the spring! Women and men lent their strength to the artisan each day to help with the manual labor. First, we cleared and excavated the spring area. We dug a drainage channel below the spring and several surface runoff diversion channels above and around the spring—this help to divert the environmental contaminants identified in the pre-construction water quality test.

Excavation begins

To ensure community members could still fetch water throughout the construction process, we also dug temporary diversion channels from the spring’s eye around the construction site. This allowed water to flow without severely disrupting community members’ water needs or construction work.

Pouring the spring's foundation

Excavation created space for setting the spring’s foundation made of thick plastic tarp, wire mesh, concrete, and waterproof cement. After setting the base, we started brickwork to build the headwall, wing walls, and stairs.

Bricklaying underway

Next, we began one of the most crucial spring protection steps to ensure a fully functional water point: setting the discharge pipes. This spring had such a naturally high yield that we installed two discharge pipes instead of the usual one. The discharge pipes have to be set low enough in place in the headwall so that the water level inside never rises above the spring’s eye, yet high enough to leave eighteen to twenty inches between the pipes and the spring floor to allow room for the average jerrycan (a 20-liter container) to sit beneath the pipes without making contact.

Setting the discharge pipes

If the discharge pipes were placed too high above the spring’s eye, too much backpressure could force the flow to emerge elsewhere. Too low, and community members would not be able to access the water easily. We embedded the pipes using clay (or mortar when the clay is in short supply) and placed it at a slight incline to ensure water flows in the right direction.

Plastering the stone pitching to form the rub walls

In coordination with brickwork, we pitched medium to large stones on both sides of the spring’s drainage channel. We then cemented and plastered each stone group into place, forming the rub walls. These help to discourage people and animals from trying to stand on that area, which could cause soil erosion and thus a clogged drainage area.

Plastering the stairs

With brickwork and stone pitching completed, we turned to cement and plaster both sides of the headwall and wing walls. This reinforces the brickwork and prevents water in the reservoir from seeping through the walls. In turn, this builds enough pressure in the reservoir box to push water out through the discharge pipes.

Plastering the headwall

As the headwall and wing walls were curing, we cemented and plastered the stairs and installed four tiles beneath the discharge pipes. The tiles protect the concrete from the falling water's erosive force, beautify the spring, and facilitate easy cleaning of the spring floor.

Installing the tiles

With the tiles in place, we transitioned to the final stages of construction - backfilling the reservoir box. First, we cleared the collection box of any debris that may have fallen in since its construction such as dead leaves or other items. Then we redirected the temporary diversion channels back into the reservoir box, channeling water into this area for the first time. We closed off all of the other exits to start forcing the water through the discharge pipes only.

Backfilling with large stones

With much help from the community, we filled up the reservoir area with the clean and large stones they gathered, arranging them in layers like a well-fitting puzzle. We covered the stones with a thick plastic tarp to minimize potential contamination sources from aboveground, followed by a layer of soil. We piled enough soil on top to create a slight mound to compensate for the backfill’s future settlement.

Backfilling with soil over the tarp

Community members transplanted grass onto the backfilled soil to help prevent erosion. Finally, the collection area was fenced to discourage any person or animal from walking on it since compaction can lead to disturbances in the backfill layers and potentially compromise water quality.

Mr. Patrick Burudi works on the spring's fencing

The entire construction process took about two weeks of work and patience to allow the cement and plaster to finish curing. As soon as it was ready, people got the okay from our field officers to fetch water. We officially handed over the spring directly following training to mark the community's ownership of the water point. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day, flowing in all directions.

Teenager Faith happy to fetch water from the newly protected spring

Sanitation Platforms

All five sanitation platforms have been completed and handed over to their new owners. 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, and for other families to replicate the design after having helped construct these examples.

A completed sanitation platform ready for placement and use

Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19 and More

Due to the ongoing challenges and restrictions amidst the pandemic, we worked with both local leaders and the national Ministry of Health to gain approval for a small group training about health, hygiene, and COVID-19 prevention.

Together with the village elder, Mr. Sasaka Burudi, and the spring's landowner, Mr. Patrick Burudi, we found the community’s preferred date for training while considering other community calendar events such as the agricultural season and the national coronavirus-related curfew. We requested a select yet representative group of community members to attend training, relaying the information learned to the rest of their family and friends. When the day arrived, facilitators Jonathan Mutai and Wilson Kipchoge deployed to the site to lead the event.

Trainer Jonathan demonstrates how to build and use a tippy tap handwashing station

21 people attended training, including local leaders, representatives from the community's self-help group, and residents who work as teachers in nearby schools. We held the training at Sasaka's homestead a few meters away from the spring under the shade of trees. The location was convenient for the attendees, and it provided enough space for physical distancing.

A woman demonstrates the ten steps of handwashing

Perhaps the most important topic of the day was our session on COVID-19 prevention and specific guidance in line with national and international standards. There has been tension and panic about the coronavirus in Kenya, so this was a session everyone eagerly participated in, the trainers noted. We covered:

- Information on the symptoms and transmission routes of COVID-19

- What physical distancing is and how to practice it

- How to cough and sneeze into the elbow

- Contactless greetings

- How to make and properly wear a facemask

Patrick Burudi follows training with the provided COVID-19 prevention leaflet

Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the disease and provide extra information where needed. We also left behind a rice sack painted with messages of COVID-19 prevention reminders in the local language. We affixed the sign to the spring's fence during training and encouraged community members to use it as a daily reminder to stay cautious both at home and at the spring.

Homemade mask-making tutorial

"The training was of great value to me because I learned how to make a homemade face mask and tippy tap, as well as the causes, routes, signs, symptoms, and prevention [of communicable diseases] which will help us in fighting not only hygiene-related diseases but also the COVID-19 pandemic. The knowledge gained will help me do things rightfully, as opposed to before," explained spring landowner Patrick Burudi.

"Before training, we had taken the initiative of improvising a handwashing station using leaky tins placed next to the homestead entrance and outside our pit latrine. Also, wearing a face mask was mandatory when leaving one's residential place for shopping centers or town because it was a recommendation from the government, and failure would be judged or fined heavily," he said.

Handwashing using a tippy tap

Patrick said he would now be urging people to take additional precautions such as "washing hands before entering our homes and after traveling using public transport or going to do shopping in centers and towns, and avoiding handshaking, hugging, and unnecessary kissing."

We covered several other topics, including community participation in the project; leadership and governance; personal and environmental hygiene; water handling and treatment; operation and maintenance of the spring and sanitation platforms; dental hygiene; the ten steps of handwashing, and how to make and use a tippy tap and leaky tin. We held an election for the newly formed water user committee leaders during the leadership and governance session.

We also brainstormed income-generating activities that can be used to start both a community savings account for any future minor repairs to the spring and a cooperative lending group to enable members to develop their own small businesses.

Site maintenance training at the spring

Personal hygiene was one of the memorable topics and an interesting one. The facilitator asked how often the participants take baths, and every participant had a different answer. One older man said he only takes a bath when he does heavy work and deemed bathing as not always necessary. His neighbors and the facilitators urged him to bathe daily, but everyone found they had something to learn about this topic with so many different responses.

Dental hygiene session

Dental hygiene was another special topic. The community members said they use either salt, crushed charcoal, or soap whenever they do not have access to toothpaste. The mention of soap as an alternative to toothpaste brought a heated discussion where most participants and all of the facilitators discouraged it. However, the person who mentioned it insisted that the soap is alkaline like toothpaste, and therefore, it can act as a substitute. We emphasized caution in using alternatives that could be dangerous to ingest.

A woman leaving the spring with clean water

"I personally have learned a lot from today's training. Though I am an old man, it is not until today that I learned how to do things in the right way. I have been washing my hands without using soap and brushing my teeth using chewed sticks once in a while without using toothpaste. The training has shaped me, and I will excise it rightfully. Besides those, I learned how to make a simple homemade mask and a leaky tin for handwashing. With this knowledge, I will not be a victim of hygiene-related diseases," said Patrick Burudi.

Patrick Burudi takes a drink of water from the spring

When an issue arises concerning the water project, the water user committee is equipped with the necessary skills to rectify the problem and ensure the water point works appropriately. However, if the issue is beyond their capabilities, they can contact our field officers' team to assist them. We will also continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

November, 2020: Shitavita Community, Patrick Burudi Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Patrick Burudi Spring is making people in Shitavita 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.

A Year Later: Growing Vegetables to Pay School Fees!

January, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shitavita 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!

"To get water from this water point was so scary because there was a lot of bush surrounding the spring, and inside was a big snake. I would not go to get water alone," said 15-year-old Brenda.

"Now, I don't fear going to the spring because the area around the spring was cleared during implementation, and it looks smart."

Brenda continued, "[With] the help of my parents, I have started a small vegetable garden. To add on that when the vegetables are ready, I will sell and get money which will pay my school fees and buy some textbooks. My performance will improve."

Hopefully, this new vegetable garden will help Brenda work towards a bright academic future.

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 Shitavita 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 Shitavita 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.


Nazmy and Wigdan Ziyad
Generations - Jane and her children and their children and their children
9 individual donor(s)