Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 280 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/01/2024

Project Features

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Six years ago, the people of Shihome tried to protect their own spring to reduce the high numbers of water-related illness cases in their community. But without the necessary skills and knowledge, their efforts were in vain. Not only is the spring already falling apart, but the 280 people of Shihome are still suffering from illnesses that are both expensive to treat and debilitating to their health.

"Last month, my last-born son had been complaining about [a] headache," said 48-year-old farmer Dorcas Weyusia (pictured below fetching water). "I was forced to take him to the hospital, and after tests [were] done, he was diagnosed with typhoid, and a lot of money was spent."

The spring has a few problems that leave the water contaminated. First, the spring box (the area behind the discharge pipes where the water is filtered) is missing a fence that would prevent people and animals from inadvertently compacting the layers of clay, stone, tarp, and grass that protect the water. The spring's water should be captured at the source and funneled to the discharge pipe, but right now, the water is escaping the structure, seeping through the cement and past the discharge pipe.

"The workmanship was not good," said our field officer, Betty. "The water has diverted to an escape channel, leading to low discharge. To add on that, the catchment area is very dirty, which makes the water contaminated."

The low discharge that Betty described means that sometimes, especially during the dry seasons, water will only dribble out of the pipes. This creates problems for everyone at peak collection times when everyone needs water.

"It's my normal routine after school," said 16-year-old Oscar M (shown below). "I need to go and fetch water from the spring. Upon reaching there, the spring is always full, and many times [the] people whom I [see] there are older than me. I am forced to wait [for] them to fetch water first, but it really costs my time."

Because acquiring water takes such a long time, people get less of it. Without water to do essential daily tasks, people’s normal routines are disrupted, and important things like working and going to school are challenging.

"There is this one incident when I had a lot of schoolwork, and I had to get water first," Oscar continued. "By the time I arrived home, there was no power throughout the night, and I was supposed to submit the assignment [online]. I had to request my mother to escort me to school so that she could explain what happened to my class teacher. My mother refused. I was given [a] punishment the whole day, for I did not attend any lessons. From that day, I confirm the number of people at the water before I get my water container so that I can take the shortest time possible."

"[The] protection of the spring will reduce [the] water contamination at the spring, and the community members will be trained on spring maintenance and management," Betty said. "By so doing, all routes of contamination will be blocked, the catchment area will be clean, and water users will enjoy safe, clean drinking water."

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 and More

To hold training, we work closely with both community leaders and the local government. 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.

The training will focus on improved hygiene, health, and sanitation habits in this community. 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

February, 2023: Shihome Community Spring Protection Complete!

Shihome Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Jotham Koikoi 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 no longer as worried as I was in the past. Accessing water has been made so easy. A very short time is spent in the spring because all spring eyes or water source channels were redirected to the spring box and the discharge speed is very good," said 42-year-old farmer Dorcus Weyusia.

She continued: "Now that the water point is fully protected, I rest assured that all the routes of contamination have been curbed. I used to spend a lot of money on medication for my small child, but now I will use the money to pay for school, and my child will be at school throughout, which will improve his performance. This is the joy of every parent."

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

"I will no longer waste time in the spring because all the water has been redirected to the spring box, and the discharge speed has increased, so there's no overcrowding in the spring," said 17-year-old Esther B.

"Since [I] am sure of clean water, I have been thinking of starting a business after learning how to make soap. I thank God that as we speak, [I] am able to make liquid soap with the support of my parents. I want to start making soap in the evening, [on] weekends, and during holidays, as I [can] sell to the nearby schools and communities. This water is the first reagent that I need for soap-making," Esther said.

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.

"Immediately after construction was completed, the staff in charge asked the water users to assemble at the spring together with the elected officials. After a few remarks, she handed over the facility to the community members and asked them to adhere to the spring rules and regulations put in place," said field officer Stella Inganji.

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 Betty and Stella deployed to the site to lead the event. 12 people attended the training, including 11 men and one man. We held the training at the homestead of Mr. Koikoi.

Training participants.

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 was the favorite session of the day.

"This topic interested the participants a lot as they eagerly waited to learn soap-making. They were keen to follow the steps and asked questions at any chance they got or whenever they failed to understand a step. This process was well received as the participants enjoyed the whole process, asking to be part of it throughout," said training facilitator Stella Inganji.

Water User Committee members.

"I am grateful, for I have learned a lot, and that I was among the people who attended the training. Sincerely speaking, I had not imagined that soap [could] be made that easy. I only knew that soap is only made using machines, [so] I was shocked to see it done manually. [I] am the happiest person to have acquired this knowledge," said Esther, quoted earlier.


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!

January, 2023: Shihome Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Jotham Koikoi Spring 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: Time to Study and Dream!

April, 2024

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shihome 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!

Nine-year-old Wayne recalled what life was like in the Shihome Community before his community’s spring was protected last year.

“The spring was dirty, broken, and lacked stairs for accessibility. Accessibility was a bit difficult; water was escaping through [the] walls. It was difficult to fetch water barefoot because the collection [area] was damaged. I used to fetch water after school, which limited my playtime,” said Wayne.

Collecting water is now safer and less time-consuming for Wayne and the other community members in Shihome.

"Since I spend little time [at the] spring, [I] am able to have enough time to wash my uniforms midweek and do homework. [I] am no longer worried about the safety because the spring is well fetched, constructed, and it is very clean,” continued Wayne.

Wayne collecting water.

Having ready access to water from the spring has made a difference for Wayne, allowing him time for learning and dreaming about the future.

"In the last exam, I performed well, exceeding the expectations in our practical exams. I hope [at] one time I will be a water engineer. I [go to] school at Shihome Primary, and I marveled [at] the kind of machine that drilled our borehole," concluded Wayne.


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 Shihome 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 Shihome 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 Sponsor - Humble King Foundation