Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 600 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 01/16/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

When we first examined Mutovo Spring during our vetting survey, the spring was open and unprotected. When we returned, we learned that a local political aspirant had attempted to protect the spring. However, even though the construction of the protected spring was completed not long ago, problems are already arising with the spring, its water quality, and its continuing effect on community members' health.

The 800 community members who live in Shisasari Itumbu rely on Mutovo Spring as their only water source. People regularly make up to five trips a day to the water point and back, taking an hour each trip to collect water.

They are grateful that the spring provides sufficient water to meet their needs, but the quality of the water, even after the political aspirant's efforts, is questionable. Community members are still reporting numerous stomach problems after drinking the water, indicating it is still contaminated.

The area around the spring, especially the spring box where people collect water, is flooded. Water seeps through areas it shouldn't.

Layers of stone, gravel, tarp, soil, and grass should isolate the water from outside contaminants above the discharge pipe. Then the area would need to be fenced to protect the carefully arranged layers from compaction and contamination. There is no fenced filtration area. Instead, water soaks the grass above the spring box, and the cement is already crumbling.

The chlorine dispenser beside the spring serves as a resource to clean the water from the spring as well as the containers that people use to transport the water.

Another issue is that the spring remains difficult to access, putting people at risk of being injured while collecting water and walking up the steep embankment with heavy water containers.

"[I] am glad accessibility will be simple with your modern style of construction," said Cynthia T., 17 (pictured below at the spring).

With so many people depending on this waterpoint, this situation is not acceptable.

"This water point is serving people as far as two kilometers (1.24 miles) away," explained local businessman Plus Munyenya, pictured above at the spring. "They come with pickups, others with carts, just to get water."

Those who live in the community need the spring properly protected so they won't have to wonder if they risk becoming ill every time. And they need the spring to become more accessible, so they can save time and energy and know they can safely collect water without the danger of falling and injuring themselves.

Plus concluded by telling us that the community members are excited about our intervention. "We are happy [for you] to consider us for this project," he said. "We are ready. You are welcome anytime here at home and [in the] community."

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

August, 2022: Shisasari Itumbu Spring Protection Project Complete!

Shisasari Itumbu Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Mutovo Spring into a flowing source of naturally filtered water thanks to your donation. Our team also trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices. Together, these components will unlock the opportunity for community members to live better, healthier lives.

"[I] am so happy, and I thank [you] for what [you] have done," said 62-year-old businessman Pius Chimoli, to whom we spoke when we first visited his community.

Pius and his wife, Olivia, share a drink of water at the spring.

"Now, people from within the community and beyond can access clean water with ease whether it rains or not. The stairs are fine, the floor is well done, and [the] water from the pipe is so clean. Protection of the spring has made the water even more clean and tasty. I just feel like [drinking] more and more water from the spring."

Children were just as excited as adults about the new waterpoint.

"Whenever it rained, the spring was inaccessible, and the water was dirty," said 12-year-old Angela L.

Angela fills her jerrycan with water.

"I can now run to the spring, fetch water and still make it to school on time," said Angela. "I can now get water from the spring comfortably and faster. I believe I will better my performance by converting the long time I was taking at the spring to academic time."

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 rocks to break them down into gravel. Because people have to carry most items by hand, the material-collection process can take anywhere from a few weeks to months.

When the community was ready, we sent a lorry to deliver the remaining construction materials, including cement, plastic tarps, and hardware. Then, our construction artisan and field officers deployed to the spring to begin work. Individual households provided meals throughout each day to sustain the work team.

"Mutovo Spring was constructed when schools were on recess," said our field officer, Jacklyne.

Jacklyn shared: "Children came out in large numbers and took part in [the] construction process fully: they ferried bricks, transported sand on wheelbarrows, availed both hardcore and ballast (stones) to the construction site, took part in grass planting, and finally helped in cleaning the spring once the construction was over. Their contribution was so immense and cannot be overlooked. Never underestimate the ability of the young ones."

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

First, we cleared and excavated the spring area. Next, we dug a drainage channel below the spring and several runoff diversion channels above and around the spring. These help to divert surface contaminants away.

To ensure community members could still access water throughout the construction process, we also dug temporary channels from the spring's eye around the construction site. This allowed water to flow without disrupting community members' tasks 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 establishing the base, we started brickwork to build the headwall, wing walls, and stairs.

Once the walls had grown tall enough, we began one of the most crucial steps: setting the discharge pipe. The discharge pipe needs to be positioned low enough in the headwall so the water level never rises above the spring's eye, yet high enough to allow 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, backpressure could force water 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 clay is in short supply) and placed it at an incline to ensure water flows in the right direction.

In coordination with brickwork, we pitched stones on both sides of the spring's drainage channel. We then cemented and plastered each stone, forming the rub walls. These walls discourage people and animals from standing in that area, which could cause soil erosion and a clogged drainage area.

We then cemented and plastered 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 cured, 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.

The final stage of construction is backfilling the reservoir box behind the discharge pipe. We cleared the collection box of any debris that may have fallen during construction. 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 water through the discharge pipe only.

Stones assembled in place.

We filled up the reservoir area with the large, clean stones community members had gathered, arranging them in layers like a well-fitting puzzle. We covered the rocks with a thick plastic tarp to minimize potential contamination sources, then piled enough dirt on top to compensate for future settling.

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. 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 the spring was ready, people got the okay from their local field officers to fetch water.

We officially handed over the spring to mark the community's ownership of the water point. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day, flowing in all directions.

Olivia, Pius's wife and the chairperson of the new water user committee, thanked everyone who protected their spring on behalf of the community. She promised that they would do all it takes to protect the spring and to ensure that it is functional. Everyone said a prayer, and people sang thankful songs.

Training on Health, Hygiene, and More

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 Jacklyne and Victor deployed to the site to lead the event. 20 people attended the training, including 12 women and eight men. We held the training outside of Pius and Olivia's house under a guava tree.

We covered several topics, including community participation in the project, leadership and governance, personal and environmental hygiene, water handling and treatment, spring maintenance, dental hygiene, the ten steps of handwashing, disease prevention, and how to make and use handwashing stations.

Everyone practices handwashing.

During the leadership and governance session, we held an election for the newly formed water user committee leaders, who will oversee the maintenance of the spring. We also brainstormed income-generating activities. Community members can now start a group savings account for any future minor repairs to the spring and a cooperative lending group, enabling them to develop small businesses.

Soap-making was everyone's favorite topic. People remarked that they thought soap could only be made by specialized equipment and were surprised that it could be made at home using local ingredients. Participants took turns stirring the mixture.

Dental hygiene was another surprising area, as no one in Shisasari Itumbu knew that they should be brushing their tongues as well as their teeth.

Field officer Victor helps community members demonstrate dental hygiene

"It was excellent," said Olivia Chimoli. "I have learned so many things that I did not know. I can now make soap. I can make and use a tippy-tap, and I can also wash my hands effectively using the ten handwashing steps. It was great."

"This waterpoint will help me to promote hygiene standards in my home," said Pius. "It will also go a long way in the reduction of waterborne diseases. Clean and safe water and easy access to the spring is now guaranteed."


This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our in-country teams, and the community members themselves. When an issue arises concerning the spring, 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 their local field officers to assist them.

Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our monitoring and maintenance program. We walk with each community, problem-solving together when they face challenges with functionality, seasonality, or water quality. Together, all these components help us strive for enduring access to reliable, clean, and safe water for this community.

With your contribution, one more piece has been added to a large puzzle of water projects. In our target areas, we’re working toward complete coverage of reliable, maintained water sources within a 30-minute round trip for each community, household, school, and health center. With this in mind, search through our upcoming projects to see which community you can help next!

Thank you for making all of this possible!

July, 2022: Shisasari Itumbu Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Shisasari Itumbu Community drains people’s time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know this community through the introduction and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation, and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with more good news!

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: Safer water to consume!

February, 2024

A year ago, your generous donation helped the Shisasari Itumbu Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Christine. 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 2.

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

Christine Shitote, 52, recalled what life was like in Shisasari Itumbu before her community's spring was protected last year.

"Before the construction of the spring, there were persistent occurrences [of] waterborne diseases. The contamination was very high," said Christine.

Collecting water is now less hazardous to their health since the spring's protection and the installation of a chlorine dispenser on site for Christine and the other community members in Shisasari Itumbu.

"I don't go to [the] hospital frequently as before. I use chlorine now after being taught the importance of clean water," continued Christine.

Having ready access to water from the spring has made a difference for Christine, allowing her to collect water and focus on other important activities quickly.

"General cleanliness in my household has improved. The project has really helped me. When it is dry season, I use the water to irrigate the crops. I will now use water for soap making and horticulture," concluded Christine.

Christine watering her crops.

Right now, there are others in neighboring communities that desperately need safe water access. Your support will immediately go to work to provide a clean water project - and we can't wait to introduce you to the next person you'll help.

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 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 Shisasari Itumbu 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.


Project Sponsor - Northern Highlands Regional High School