Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 105 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 11/14/2023

Project Features

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The community of Shitirira has 105 people that rely on the nearby Joseph Kwalanda spring to meet their daily water needs.

The spring has many challenges; it's overcrowded, contaminated and the terrain around it is challenging to navigate, especially in the rainy season when it is muddy and slippery.

However, the most impactful issue for this community is the water contamination that causes them to become ill with water-borne diseases like typhoid. They spend a lot of money to treat their sicknesses if they can afford medical care. When they are sick, they also lose valuable time at work and school, missing opportunities to generate income and learn.

"We are tired of being sick and our children always being absent from school. Our health is not good," shared Joseph Kwalanda, a 42-year-old farmer in Shitirira and the namesake of the spring.

"Sometimes I feel bad when I miss going to school. However, when I miss going to school because of typhoid, I realize I drop in my academic performance," said Geofry K., 13.

Protecting this spring will mean adults and children in this community can get back to work and school and focus on improving their daily lives rather than struggling to survive.

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: Joseph Kwalanda Spring Protection Complete!

Shitirira Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Joseph Kwalanda 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.

Farmer Susan Kwalanda is excited about leaving behind the water-related problems in her community. "We could not access clean water all the time, especially during the dry seasons, because the water point [served] several numbers of people who could come to collect water very early in the morning, leaving the water dirty after collection. Since there was no reliable water point, I was forced to just collect the dirty water and allow it to settle before using it for drinking, and even food preparations for my kids, causing contraction of diseases such as cholera."

Susan at the new spring.

Now, Susan is looking toward the future. "I will be able to start up a brickwork business and then use the bricks in the construction of another house or sell the bricks since the construction rate has increased in my area. Then, also, my tree nursery shall be maintained by daily watering of them and [the] planting of vegetables, thus reducing the expenses used in purchasing the vegetables because I will be having my own."

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

12-year-old Felix K. can't wait to drink safer water. "This will change the quality of water I fetch and carry home simply because a while ago, it was difficult to establish if the water carried home was clean. People used dirty containers to fetch water, hence contaminating the whole pool."

Felix rinsing his water container at the new spring.

The reliable water will allow Felix to take care of his family's livestock more easily. "[I will be] performing multiple tasks within a short time, since [I] am always taking charge of our animals during the weekends by providing them with drinking water. So with the provision of [these] stairs, I can fetch water easily and be sure of [the] quality because there is no immersion of containers in the water, thus making [my] work easier."

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.

Little ones doing their part!

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.

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.

When the day arrived, facilitators Mildred and Patience deployed to the site to lead the event. 13 people attended the training, including six men and seven women. We held the training at a community member's centrally located 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.

Community members were most excited to learn about soap-making since inflation has driven prices up so high. This will now be another expense they can cover themselves using local ingredients. Participants eagerly took notes on the ingredients and the steps, even repeating them back to the facilitator at the end of the lesson to ensure they had everything right.

They also enjoyed the session on water handling and storage because they had never known the proper methods of disinfecting and storing water. We gave them a few different options for treatment (chlorination, boiling, and solar disinfection) and reminded them that water should only be stored for a few days at most, and always with a cover. This will help prevent future water-related illnesses.


30-year-old farmer Laban Wachiya recounted what he learned during the training. "I can comfortably make soap on my own which I can sell, and then use [the] money in purchasing animal feeds for my cows, and also use the soap in cleaning, thus promoting good hygiene. I acquired the knowledge of the different water treatment methods which I shall apply, hence improving my health since I shall be consuming clean and safe water free from any contamination. Health-wise also, I will be able to take good charge of my teeth by brushing in the required way at the required times and storing my toothbrush well [help in the] reduction of tooth decay or cavities."


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: Shitirira Community 4 Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Shitirira 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: Water for farming!

December, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Shitirira Community 4.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shitirira Community 4 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!

Sussy Chetambe, 36, recalled what life was like in the Shitirira Community before her community's spring was protected last year.

"Getting water from this spring was a big problem because we suffered trying to access clean water due to [the] mud flow into the spring, especially during rainy days, which made our children sick," said Sussy.

Collecting water is now much simpler for Sussy and the other community members in [the] Shitirira Community.

"Today [I] am the happiest mother because water from the spring is clean and pure with no contamination. There is not even a single trace of stress in my mind because [I] am assured of safe, clean drinking water from the spring," continued Sussy.

Having ready access to water from the spring has made a difference for Sussy, allowing her to create a brighter future for her family.

"My vegetable farm had been dormant for quite some time, but now I have revived it due to [the] availability of fresh water from the spring. With this initiative, I will be able to produce abundant vegetables for commercial [use] and thus earn a living out of it," concluded Sussy.

Sussy tending her vegetable garden.

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 Shitirira Community 4 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 Shitirira Community 4 – 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 Underwriter - Estate of Ms. Malo
3 individual donor(s)