Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 385 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jul 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 08/14/2023

Project Features

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The Shikoye area is green and greatly vegetative. It is in a periurban setting whereby the majority of the residents are tenants rather than homeowners. Most people here work as casual laborers or small-scale traders. A few own small plots of farms where they plant vegetables for family use. The money earned from these daily hustles is what keeps most families going on with their life.

Due to its setting, Shikoye enjoys a lot of influence from town. Everyone here appreciates the need to have safe latrines for use because, while in town, one has to pay to use these facilities. The same applies to water. These are commodities that are so precious to these people, giving the community a unique drive and perspective on wanting to improve their water access and sanitation at home.

People here scramble for their daily access to water, especially during the dry season. 385 people in Shikoye depend on Kwa Witinga Spring as their closest and only year-round water point, but the greater community here has over 1,000 residents. Community members who use seasonal water sources elsewhere for part of the year, and those who need water for their nearby businesses, often flock to Kwa Witinga Spring because of its dependability.

The path to Kwa Witinga Spring is steep at the main entrance, and there are no stairs to guide people in and out of the water point. Each household strives to collect as much water as possible each day so that they do not have to spend their hard-earned money on purchasing water from the market. A few who have animals also join in the struggle to fetch water for their flock. But, as they do this, they wade through the pool of water right before the water collection point. And as one leaves the source, extra care must be taken so that one does not slide back into the pool. Sometimes the worst happens and even people's jerrycans get destroyed in the unfortunate event that they slide and fall, sometimes getting hurt in the process.

Children sometimes opt to climb up and out of the spring over a steep wall, rather than trudge through the water again and risk slipping that way. Both routes are risky, and parents are continually worried they children will suffer injuries.

"It is always hard and tiresome to get water from the spring because we lack staircases. I hate to slide back into the pool of water when I go to collect water. Sometimes animals also come to drink water from the pool thus putting our life at risk," explained Bravine, a primary school-aged boy.

The spring water is unsafe for consumption because it is open to contamination by storm runoff, human activities, and animals. The runoff alone carries farm chemicals, residues from animal waste, and soil into the spring water.

"We are not sure about the safety of the water we are drinking," said Rita Aluka, a 23-year-old small-scale trader in the community.

Community members said that sore throat is always experienced after drinking this water, and more so by new spring users who have not adapted to it. Other more serious water-related illnesses such as typhoid and diarrhea cost people their time, energy, and a lot of money as they try to pay for medicine and hospital visits. Each day spend sick means less income-earning and productive time for adults, and fewer days in school for children.

To aid in fetching water, the community has tried to improve their spring in several ways but to no avail. To help improve water quality, they laid a plastic tarp over several areas where the spring water collects and flows. But without all of the necessary materials and technical expertise, they did not succeed in keeping the tarp buried or secured. Today it is visible, tattered, and not helping in their quest for clean water.

The community also tried to install a discharge pipe to create flowing water, which they have since done in two locations where the spring's water comes to the surface. So much water is still untapped between the two pipes, however, that it flows down the rock and mud wall around them. The original pipe was plastic and is now broken, open, and hard to reach. People use this plastic pipe as a secondary place to fill up while someone else uses the second pipe that they installed. This second attempt is a long metal pipe lodged into a rock and mud wall the community built to try to hold it in place along with the plastic tarp. Nevertheless, the pipe is rather loose and often dislodges soil into the water that flows through it.

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.


Project Updates

July, 2021: Kwa Witinga Spring Project Complete!

Shikoye Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Kwa Witinga Spring into a flowing source of water, thanks to your donation. Our team protected the spring and trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices, including COVID-19 prevention.

"For me, it brings a lot of joy to see my community being able to get safe drinking water. I worked in the water sector before, but I didn't get worthy partners who could help us harness this water. I tried using my limited skills, but it was unfruitful. But now, I am very happy to have been a part of the team that has made my dream come true. It's very satisfying. We have a lot of water being wasted downstream. My dream is to see the water harvested into ponds for fish farming and part of it being used for a tree nursery business." said Nicholas Shiga, a retired civil servant.

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

"For me, I plan to use the water to clean my clothes, drink clean water, and practice hand hygiene more often. This water will also help me build strong friendships because my fellow children and I will now find time to play after fetching water because the spring will not have long queues. There will be minimal congestion at the spring because it has three discharge pipes," said Trizzah, a 14-year-old girl.

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 the gravel. Because people have to carry most items by hand, the materials collection process can take anywhere from a few weeks to months.

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. Individual households provided meals throughout each day to sustain the work team.

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. Next, we dug a drainage channel below the spring and several surface runoff diversion channels above and around the spring. These help to divert environmental contaminants carried by the rains away from the spring.

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 the construction work.

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.

Next, we began one of the most crucial spring protection steps to ensure a fully functional water point: setting the discharge pipe. The discharge pipe has to be low enough 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 pipe and the spring floor. This allows room for the average jerrycan (a 20-liter container) to sit beneath the pipe without making contact.

If we place the discharge pipe 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 pipe 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.

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 discourage people and animals from standing on that area, which could cause soil erosion and thus a clogged drainage area.

With brickwork and stone pitching completed, we turned to cementing and plastering both sides of the headwall and wing walls. These finishing layers reinforce the brickwork and prevent water in the reservoir from seeping through the walls. In turn, enough pressure builds in the reservoir box to push water out through the discharge pipe.

As the headwall and wing walls were curing, we cemented and plastered the stairs and installed four tiles beneath the discharge pipe. The tiles protect the concrete from the falling water’s erosive force while beautifying the spring and facilitating easy cleaning of the spring floor.

We transitioned to the final stages of construction with the tiles in place - 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 pipe only.

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.

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.

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.

The community members are pleased about the new water development in Shijoye. This spring is of great importance not only to the immediate community but also to the nearby institutions such as Bukhulunya Primary School, Kakamega Prison, Amalemba, and Shirere Estates. More so when acute water shortage hits the neighborhood. They have welcomed it with open hands and are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the spring becomes the best development model in the region.

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

Due to the ongoing challenges and restrictions amidst the pandemic, we worked with 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 community, we found their preferred date for training while considering other community calendar events, such as the agricultural season and social events. We requested a representative group of community members to attend training to relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends. Mr. Nicholas Shiga, together with the spring interim committee officials, used door-door visitation, phone calls, and verbal messages to notify people about the training.

When the day arrived, facilitators Wagaka Erick, Amos Emisiko, and Victor Musemi deployed to the site to lead the event. Fourteen people attended the training, including community-based leaders, village health volunteers, and local government officials. We held the training at the spring point. It is a cool place dotted with trees and relatively flat ground that allowed trainees to be set up seats for their use.

Perhaps the most crucial topic of the day was our session on COVID-19 prevention and control. 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 virus and provide extra information where needed.

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; dental hygiene; the ten steps of handwashing, and how to make and use a tippy tap and leaky tin. In addition, 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 a community savings account for any future minor repairs to the spring and a cooperative lending group to enable members to develop small businesses.

Wilson Hamisi, a local farmer, noted, "The training was of great help to me because I was able to learn about various COVID-19 variants. It is also a big wake-up call that COVID-19 is close, and it can present itself in many unknown forms that the majority of us used to ignore."

"This training is an eye-opener about how we can be involved in the water development sector. I've realized that the vast water resources within my jurisdiction can be harnessed to benefit the population. This calls for stakeholders' collaborative participation." said female village elder Rose Asihundo.

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 to assist them. Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

June, 2021: Kwa Witinga Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Kwa Witinga Spring is making people in Shikoye, Kenya 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: "I have achieved a lot."

August, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shikoye 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 Kwa Witinga Spring was protected last year, collecting water was challenging.

"I had the fear of going to the water point alone because the environment surrounding the spring was with huge trees and a lot of bushes," said 10-year-old Deogracious. "Also, I was always forced to wait so that adults can fetch water first. This wasted my time and affected my learning."

But now that the spring has been protected, things are different.

"It is safe to get water from this water point because the bush was cleared during construction. I can go to the water point as many times as possible, and it is easier to access water due to the three taps at the water point," said Deogracious.

"I have achieved a lot in my education because I have enough time to revise and do my homework in time," concluded Deogracious.

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 Shikoye 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 Shikoye 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.


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