Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 210 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/07/2024

Project Features

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The Shamakhokho area is partially forested with a mixture of indigenous and exotic tree species. The topography of the area is generally a gradual slope with some steep parts. The settlements are clustered whereby families stay together in clan setups, though there are also some rental units available which mostly attract non-locals. Shamakhokho Shopping Center is just two kilometers away, adding to the cosmopolitan feel and large population here.

Wizula Spring is the main source of water for 210 people in Shamakhokho. But the spring's water is also in high demand from the schools, hospitals, and churches that surround it. These groups seek out Wizula Spring for its reliability, flowing with water even during one of the most intense droughts on record in 2019. But the added crowds heighten the challenges faced at the spring, which are many.

First, Wizula Spring is open to contamination from both human and environmental pollutants. Stormwater from the rains washes farm chemicals, residues from animal waste, and soil directly into the spring.

"I do regular maintenance at the spring by hoeing out the soil and other debris because of stormwater that washes these contaminants into our water source. This is a tedious exercise that is done on a regular basis since the water point is open and unprotected," explained Syllas Shigali, who works as a brick maker.

Rotting leaves, bugs, and algae are constants where the spring water pools. Animals can easily walk through the spring, too, drinking and defecating in the water.

Community members report frequent cases of sore throat, diarrhea, and stomachache after drinking water from Wizula Spring. These and other water-realted illnesses are expensive to treat, draining families of their financial resources. And when people get sick after drinking the spring water, adults miss out on key productive and income-earning time and children have to stay home from school, falling behind in their lessons.

"We normally get sick after using the water. For me, sore throat problem is my greatest challenge. My friends have also told me that they once suffered diarrhea after drinking the water," said primary school-aged Steve.

Accessibility is the other major problem at Wizula Spring. The area is slick with mud, and to reach the drawing point people must wade through several inches of water and mud. For children, the water sometimes reaches mid-shin or higher, giving parents extra concern for their safety should their youngest children fall and get stuck in the water.

To draw water, the community improvised a discharge area by sticking a metal pipe into a mud wall they built. This forces the spring water to pool behind the wall so that it can only flow out through the pipe. But water constantly seeps through the wall, reducing the discharge speed of the water and slowing community members down as they fill their jerrycans.

This situation reaches a critical stage when the improvised discharge pipe at the spring gets blocked by debris and soil washed down by runoff. Thus, someone has to hoe it up and work out the process of unblocking the pipe in addition to unblocking the spring's pool of water as Syllas described. This process stirs up even more mud in the water, wasting community members' precious time as they wait for the water to settle so they can begin fetching it once more. Having to wait at the spring means delays to the rest of the day's activities, including picking tea, which his a key driver of income and is meant to be done in the morning hours.

The only other year-round water sources this community has are two other spring we protected in the area called Wamunala Spring and Gideon Asonga Spring. But these two springs are further away from the 210 people who would prefer to use Wizula Spring, eating up more of their time if they choose to take the longer walk.

And with more than 600 people who call this area home, the previously protected springs are quickly overburdened by the extra people who come to collect water.

Protecting Wizula Spring will help reduce the stress on the families relying on the other two springs, and it will make a new source of clean water available closer to home for the people who rely on Wizula 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

June, 2021: Wizula Spring Project Complete!

Shamakhokho Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Wizula 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.

Fetching water from the protected spring.

"Accessing water will be easier and fast. I am now sure if I sent my child to bring water it will be easier and I know the water is safe. Actually, my life will have changed. I will feel I have achieved a goal in my life," said Harun Mugadi, a farmer, father, and the spring's elected Chair.

"I have achieved one step in protecting the source. I believe the other goal is how to ensure the spring remains sustainable for generations to come."

Harun Mugadi (right) and an elder celebrate the protected spring.

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

"Clean water means life to me. Washing clothes, fruits, and other things gives you confidence in doing a lot of hygiene and sanitation practices," said primary school-aged Faith, who celebrated the spring alongside her younger brother.

"I have always performed well in school, but I wish to perform far better because I won't waste a lot of time fetching water. Access to the spring is easier and helps with time management."

Faith (left) and her younger brother pose at 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 the gravel. Because people have to carry most items by hand, the materials collection process can take anywhere from a few weeks to months.

Delivering bricks to the spring work 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. 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.

Site clearance and excavation begin.

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.

Measuring the foundation underway.

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 begins on top of the concrete foundation.

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.

Setting the pipe

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.

Rub wall construction

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.

Plastering the stairs

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.

Installing the tiles

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.

Transplanting grass

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.

Water flows from protected Wizula Spring.

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.

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.

Trainer explains how solar disinfection works as a method of water treatment.

When the day arrived, facilitators Amos Emisiko and Victor Musemi deployed to the site to lead the event. Nineteen people attended the training, including community-based leaders. We held the training under a tree which provided shade for the participants because the day was sunny. A cool breeze also provided a good environment for participants to learn while remaining very attentive.

Showing how to cough and sneeze into the elbow to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses.

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.

Handwashing demonstration

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.

Handwashing demonstration

Handwashing was the most memorable topic as one participant named Misco illustrated excellently how to wash hands, outshining everyone who tried before him. Misco carefully applied enough soap and water while washing his hands. At the end of the demonstration, he threw out a joke, asking "Where is the ugali (corn mush) now?" meaning his clean hands were fit to eat and he deserved a treat!

Safe water handling session

Another memorable topic was water management and safety. The facilitator singled out some participants to highlight what they saw and felt while looking over the diagrams showing good and bad hygiene habits. One participant showed his print-out with a baby using the bushes as a toilet. The participants confidently linked the situation with the old times as compared to now. The participant then confidently illustrated how they once polluted their environment unknowingly but thanked God for the change in the world with increased education and knowledge on why open defecation was a dangerous practice.

Elected leaders of the spring's water user committee, including Chair Harun Magudi (left) and Marble Khavere (right).

"We thank you for good lessons and we take it positively. The training is important to me as you have highlighted a lot of things; we need to put emphasis on these to better our lives. I am going to be a teacher of handwashing in this compound," said Harun Mugadi, a farmer, father, and the elected Chair of the spring's water user committee.

"The training is good to me. I have gained a lot. As a mother, the training has taught me the importance of hygiene and sanitation, especially when in the kitchen. I am able to pass this knowledge to my children and even grandchildren," noted Marble Khavere, also an elected leader on the water user committee.

Homemade mask-making tutorial

Madam Khavere said their community had already been trying to observe good preventative measures to help fight the spread of COVID-19. "We wash hands frequently. We have set tippy taps at the entrance to our homesteads and pit latrines to enable us to wash hands frequently. We wear our masks, especially in social places like markets, and we practice contactless greetings."

"Mask-making was the most helpful part of the training. Imagine, we have all these materials in our houses, it is just that we haven't realized they are of help to us!" she said.

"We pledge, first, to continue with washing hands and wearing masks, among other precautions that we have been observing. We are going to employ the creation of more washing points, proper dieting, and drinking a lot of water," referring to the training's lesson on the importance of a nutritionally balanced diet and how to grow small plots of vegetables at home.

Regarding the pandemic, Madam Khavere said, "We must be worried because it is a disease, an invisible enemy. We believe in God that we shall overcome it - meanwhile, let us just observe the health protocols."

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!

May, 2021: Wizula Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Wizula Spring is making people in Shamakhokho, 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. Learn more here!

A Year Later: "Cleanest Boy in My Class"

July, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Shamakhokho Community 2.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shamakhokho Community 2 maintain access to safe, reliable water. Together, they keep The Water Promise.

We’re confident you'll love joining this world-changing group committed to sustainability!

Henry S., 9, said, "Initially, fetching water from this spring was very dangerous. This is because the spring was so deep with a lot of water, which can even lead to death for the children like me. Additionally, my mother used to be sick because of drinking contaminated water, and it really affected me because I used to miss school to look after my siblings."

But since we protected Wizula Spring last year, collecting water has been safer and faster for Henry.

"Personally, my life has changed because I have enough time [to] study while at home and normally in school. Therefore, fetching water in this spring has become very easy because the spring is discharging a lot of water. It takes [only a] few seconds to fill my jerrycan."

Henry continued, "Having clean water has also helped me clean my school uniform at least thrice a week, and this has made me be chosen [as] the most cleanest boy in my class."

Henry has commendable plans for the future as well. "My plans or goals are to ensure that I improve in my academic performance. This is because education is a key to success and in [the] future, I [want to] ensure that other young children like me are accessing safe, clean water."

Henry with community member Pauline at the spring.

Navigating through intense dry spells, performing preventative maintenance, conducting quality repairs when needed and continuing to assist community leaders to manage water points are all normal parts of keeping projects sustainable. The Water Promise community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shamakhokho Community 2 maintain access to safe, reliable water.

We’d love for you to join this world-changing group committed to sustainability.

The most impactful way to continue your support of Shamakhokho Community 2 – and hundreds of other places just like this – is by joining our community of monthly givers.

Your monthly giving will help provide clean water, every month... keeping The Water Promise.


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