Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 150 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/07/2024

Project Features

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Tovesi Spring is unprotected but serves as the primary water source for 150 people in Shing'odo. The only other water source is collected rainwater.

The spring is very shallow, and the area around it is muddy and grassy, making safe access a challenge. People must balance on the slippery edge of the water, bend down and lay their containers in the water to fill them. It is a slow and tedious process.

There are often long lines in the morning and evening as people wait to fetch water since it is so time-consuming. Chaos reigns when people grow frustrated from waiting so long and quarrels break out between community members.

The catchment area around the spring is exposed to contaminants, so the water is not safe for drinking. Consumption of the contaminated water leads to community members contracting cholera, typhoid, or other waterborne diseases. Persistent illnesses lead to people losing valuable resources like their energy, health, and money.

Margret Tovesi, a local farmer, shared, "Drinking contaminated water does affect my health. On various occasions [I] am forced to seek medical attention at the nearby clinic having contracted water-related diseases."

"Going to the spring to fetch water every day in the evening after school has been a challenge to me. At various times, I don't have time to do my homework at home, and this has always meant that I skip school for fear of being punished by my teachers," said Enoch L. (shown above at the spring).

Protecting the spring will allow community members to collect sufficient clean, safe water for their needs quickly. It should also help restore their time, energy, finances, and hopefully community relationships. And young people like Enoch can get back to school where they should be without fear of retribution.

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

October, 2022: Tovesi Spring Protection Complete!

Shing'odo Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Tovesi 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 used to suffer a lot from typhoid and sore throat complications. Moving forward, my health will not be at risk, thus saving that [money] which I used to spend on medication," said 23-year-old farmer Melvin Paul.

Melvin fetching water.

She continued: "Sanitation standards in my homestead will improve drastically thanks to the availability of clean, safe, sufficient water. This will create time for other important engagements because I won't be spending a lot of time at the water point."

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

"From today, I will access clean, safe water for drinking at any given time," said Erustus T.

Erustus, happy for water!

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.

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.

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.

Community members converged at the spring to witness the handing-over ceremony. Jubilation filled the air as they expressed their feelings about the completed water point, and the village elder wrapped up the celebration with a prayer of thanksgiving.

A community member enjoying a drink!

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 and relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

Opening training with a prayer.

When the day arrived, facilitators Geoffrey and Samuel deployed to the site to lead the event. 19 people attended the training, including 11 women and eight men who were made up of village health volunteers, community-based leaders, and community members. We held the training under a shade tree at a community member's homestead.

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.

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 session.

Our field officer Samuel Samidi shared: "The leadership session was vital as it would help determine the future sustainability of the protected spring and the hygiene and sanitation standards of the community. After [a] discussion, participants agreed that good leaders are humble, goal-oriented, creative, passionate, transparent, focused, and courageous. Having understood who a leader is and some of their good qualities, the facilitator gave an opportunity to the participants to elect leaders of their choice who will be in charge of the water user committee.

"The session was intense as more than two members vied for each position. After a vigorous election process, members settled on three members. After the exercise, participants felt that, for the first time, they had elected their own leaders through a democratic process and that they were satisfied with the election process as it was fair and transparent. The facilitator encouraged the elected leaders to be excellent communicators, responsive, and reliable, always delivering on their commitments."

Proper handwashing demonstration.

"Sanitation and hygiene are critical to health, survival, and development," said 42-year-old businesswoman Florence Werekhasia. "As a community, we face challenges in providing adequate sanitation for our entire population, leaving members at risk for diseases related to water, sanitation, and hygiene. Today's training has impacted [us] positively, and we believe knowledge obtained, if well-adhered-to, will help us maintain good health and increase [our] lifespan."

Florence collects water from the spring.


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!

August, 2022: Shing'odo Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Shing'odo 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: Achieving High Hygiene Standards!

November, 2023

A year ago, your generous donation helped the Shing’odo Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Velma. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shing'odo 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!

Velma B., 13, recalled what life was like in the Shing'odo Community before her community's spring was protected last year.

"Collecting water from this water point was not easy, especially during the rainy season. The access point was not accessible. I [had to] stand inside the water for me to collect water. Many people could queue waiting to collect water," Velma shared.

Collecting water is now much more straightforward for Velma and the other community members in Shing'odo Community.

"Fetching water is through the pipe. Much time is saved and no long queues compared to [the] past. This has really helped me in doing my assignments on time. I can also bathe on a daily basis, hence improving my hygiene," she added.

Having ready access to water from the spring has made a difference for Velma, allowing her to easily collect water to meet her daily needs.

"Water will help me ensure that I achieve high standards of hygiene within the home and at school. This will also enable me to help my parents irrigate vegetables, especially during the dry season," concluded Velma.

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 Shing'odo 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 Shing'odo 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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