Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 140 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 07/03/2023

Project Features

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Everyone in Shitoto gets up as early as possible, trying to be among the first at their spring. The belief is that Wandawa Spring's water is cleaner in the morning because it has yet to be clouded by hundreds of people's water-fetching containers. But, unfortunately, even water that looks clean still makes Shitoto's 250 people sick.

But the first ones to fetch water will still have less dirt and fewer particles to sieve out of their water storage containers. So it does make sense that so many people waiting in line for water morning and night would fight with their neighbors for their place in line. After all, the sooner each person has water, the quicker they can get on with other things.

"I fear coming to spring in the evening after school because the elders are sometimes fetching water," said 11-year-old Ismael (shown below in front of the spring). "You wait for them to finish. Therefore, you cannot go and play."

Another reason people become impatient at the spring is that it takes so long for people to fetch water in such a slick, precarious area.

"The area around this water point is unkept," said our field officer, Protus. "It's bushy and needs to be cleared. The area is also dangerous for the people fetching water. It is slippery, and therefore it poses a risk, especially during [the] rainy season. One is likely to slip and fall, and even be injured."

The spring's muddy and bushy surroundings also contribute to the contamination of the spring water—but it is an open water source, so you name the contaminant, and it is likely in the water Shitoto's people drink every day.

"You find sometimes toads are dead at the water point," said 61-year-old farmer Judith Salasia. "You cannot fetch water to use that day. You have to clean the place and wait for the bad smell to reduce before coming to fetch water."

"The community is pleading with The Water Project to help them protect the spring so that they can have access to clean water," Protus said. "The community is not in a position to single-handedly protect the spring because of the financial constraints. [The] majority of people in this area are peasant farmers who cannot afford more than two meals a day. The little resources they get [are] used in feeding the family and not to protect the 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 training, 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.

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

May, 2023: Shitoto Community Spring Protection Complete!

Shitoto Community now has access to clean water! Thanks to your donation, we transformed Wandawa Spring into a flowing source of naturally filtered water. We also installed a chlorine dispenser to provide added protection and trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices. Together, these components will unlock the opportunity for community members to live better, healthier lives.

"Personally, I'm very excited. This project, I believe, will come in really handy, especially as far as my back problems are involved. Previously I found it difficult to access the water because of [the water point's] steepness and [its] lack of [a] staircase. But after this project was completed, my joy finally materialized because of how precise and detailed it was constructed. This, I believe, will finally relieve my back of the immense pressure I usually experienced before," said 64-year-old farmer Judith Salasya.


Judith continued, "Generally, I feel like the water point is a perfect gift from God that I have prayed [about] for [a] long [time]. My husband and I had plans to put up a fish pond, which, until today, was just a dream that hadn't come true. But now that the water point is complete, we're sure of actualizing it."

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


"Fetching water from the point was so time-consuming since we had to spend [so] much time queuing before we could get water for domestic use, which deprived us of sufficient time for discussion with my classmates. But right now, I can boldly admit that I'm so excited since I will be spending very limited time at the spring. Being a student, I'm so happy that I will get enough time to study and pass my exams," said 16-year-old Kassim O.

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

Community members help collect building materials.

When the community was ready, we sent a truck 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 around the construction site from the spring's eye. 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, 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, which prevents cross-contamination.

If we place the discharge pipe too high above the spring's eye, back pressure 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 the 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 close all other exits to force water through only the discharge pipe.

We filled 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 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. 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 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.

"The ceremony kicked [off] to a bright start with some celebratory songs and dances from the community members, who were very happy seeing a completed water point. This was followed by short speeches from the village heads and the community health volunteers who were present. They thanked us and promised to be vigilant to make sure nothing wrong happens to the spring," said field officer Joyce Naliaka.

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 families and friends.

When the day arrived, facilitators Joyce, Adelaide, Jacqueline, and Elvine deployed to the site to lead the event. 23 people attended the training, including 12 women and 11 men. We held the training under some shade trees at the waterpoint caretaker's home.

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

One of the sessions was about conflict management. A village elder raised a concern that some community members don't like the fact that their neighbors have to cross their farmlands to access the water point. The facilitator humorously asked them to hang the water point in the sky so everyone would be able to access it.

"The training was valuable to me since through it I have gained adequate knowledge on how to practice personal hygiene, environmental [and] food hygiene, and also water pollution and control, which I had very little knowledge about," said the 28-year-old farmer and secretary of the water user committee Reagan Makokha.

Making a leaky tin handwashing station.


This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our in-country teams, and the community members. 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!

March, 2023: Shitoto Community Spring Protection Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Shitoto 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.


Project Sponsor - Imago Dei Community