Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 119 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jul 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 08/14/2023

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

The Shisasari Itumbu area has an evenly undulating topology with a cool climatic condition free from noise pollution. It is also green and very vegetative, with both indigenous and exotic tree varieties.

The area has a good road network, and most families practice mixed farming on a small scale. People here typically raise a few dairy cows for subsistence use. They also get farmyard manure from these domesticated animals for use in their farms. They plant a variety of crops such as yams, cassava, potatoes, and maize.

Shisasari Itumbu community members are well-coordinated and enjoy working together. They care a lot about each other's welfare and are tied together by a common belief in God and other sociocultural activities. The area is wet and most springs here are high yielding.

Mathias Juma Spring, which serves 119 people in this community, is no exception to being a spring that produces a lot of water. People seek this spring out for its dependability, even during one of the most severe droughts in 2019. But Mathias Juma Spring is open to contamination and not easy to access, costing community members their health, money, time, and effort.

The fear of drinking water whose quality is not known and its negative health consequences are the main concern of the spring users. In its open state, Mathias Juma Spring's water mixes with runoff from the rains that carry farm chemicals, residues from animal waste, and soil directly into the water people collect. There are widespread reports of stomachache, sore throat, and diarrhea among the families who use this spring water.

These illnesses often worsen during rainy seasons when runoff and washout are at their height, carrying more pollution into the spring. The hospital visits and medicines required to treat these and other water-related illnesses are expensive, draining families of their financial resources that were intended for other needs. When people get sick from drinking the spring water, adults miss out on key productive and income-earning time, and kids have to stay home from school. Children can easily fall behind in their lessons after missing a week or more each time they are sick.

The other main concern at the spring is lack of accessibility. First, there are no stairs to help guide the patch into and out of the spring. This can make it difficult for the elderly, young children, and women who are pregnant to easily get to the spring.

"Because it lacks staircases, people always find it difficult to fetch water. This affects old women and your children when they go to fetch water. They do complain of the bad access point that strains them," said 61-year-old Dorina Akhukani Juma.

"Children of my age normally fall back into the pool of water after collecting water from the spring. We slide due to the bad access point," added Justus, a primary school-aged boy.

Then, there is the trouble getting into and out of the spring's drawing point. It is narrow, overgrown, and people must stand in several inches of mud and water to reach it. The drawing point was improvised by the community. It is a discharge pipe wedged directly into the earth between rocks and mud the community tried to build up around it.

But without a protected catchment area behind it, the pipe still captures only a fraction of the spring's yield while a lot of water flows around it. This slows people down as they wait for their containers to fill, consequently wasting their time as lines form to fetch water.

"Our water containers take a long time to be filled because much water is not captured by the improvised pipe we have," Justus added.

The only other year-round water source this community has is another spring we protected in the area called Luseka Spring. But Luseka Spring is further away from the 119 people who would prefer to use Mathias Juma Spring, eating up more of their time if they choose to take the longer walk. And with more than 2,400 people who call this area home, Luseka Spring is quickly overburdened by the extra people who come to collect water.

Protecting Mathias Juma Spring will help reduce the stress on the families relying on Luseka Spring and make a new source of clean water available to people at Mathias Juma Spring.

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: Mathias Juma Spring Project Complete!

Shisasari Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Mathias Juma 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.

"It gives me hope for a better future. We had suffered the poverty of poor access to safe drinking water. Many of us have fallen into the muddy water in the process of fetching water from this spring. But now, time taken to fetch water has reduced to about 10 minutes, and the area is very friendly to both young children as well as to elderly people," commented Nancy, a local female farmer.

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

"Now, it is very easy to access water without meddling in the mud. As people of Itumbu village, now we have something to be proud of. The water point has saved us from the shame of drinking water from a filthy place. I look forward to enjoying clean drinking water. Water is life! I want to stay healthy and be an ambassador of good hygiene and sanitation. I will ensure that I put on clean clothes and stay in a clean environment as a way of appreciating what God has done during my lifetime," said Gentry, a young woman.

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 area County Assembly Member, David Ikunza, was involved in the official opening of the spring. He led the community members, who were singing and dancing, celebrating the new milestone of the Shisasari-Itimbu village. He also helped plant tree saplings in honor of the springs completion.

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.

When the day arrived, facilitators Wagaka Erick, Amos Emisiko, and Joan Akinyi deployed to the site to lead the event. Twenty-nine people attended the training, including community-based leaders and area political leaders. We held the training at Mr. Mathias Juma's homestead, under a shade tree.

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.

Another important topic discussed was the role of the community in the project implementation. The participants found it interesting that they played a very crucial role in the initiation, resource mobilization, and sustainability of the finished spring project. They were pleased to note that this project was very participatory and recognized the community as the primary stakeholder.

"I was very much impressed by the kind of training the team is offering to the communities. It is very important in highlighting new development concepts that promote partnership. It also helps give education to the locals so that they are ready to engage the government in identifying key priority areas that they need intervention on," commented Hon. David Ikunza, member of County Assembly (a local government body).

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: Mathias Juma Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Mathias Juma Spring is making people in Shisasari Itumbu, 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 am now able to access water safely"

August, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shisasari Itumbu 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!

Mathias Juma Spring was challenging for community members to access before its protection last year, especially for children.

"To me, it was not easy because the area around the spring was surrounded with bush, and I had to wait for somebody so that we [could] go together to the spring due to insecurity," 11-year-old Jentrix shared.

But thankfully, since the spring's protection, Jentrix now has a different experience.

"Nowadays, I usually go alone because the bush was cleared and the water point was well fenced, making it enjoyable to go," Jentrix said.

She continued, "I am now able to access water safely for my parents at any time of the day. We have enough water in our home [so] activities are running successfully."

Jentrix smiles while collecting water.

Navigating through intense dry spells, performing preventative maintenance, conducting quality repairs when needed and continuing to assist community leaders to manage water points are all normal parts of keeping projects sustainable. The Water Promise community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shisasari Itumbu 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 Shisasari Itumbu 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.


Microsoft Employee Match
Adobe Employee Match
Google Employee Match
The Hartford Employee Match
The Clorox Company
Global Reward Solutions
HP Company Match
Liberty Mutual Employee Match
Mousie's Community Fundraiser
13 individual donor(s)