Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 168 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2017

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/09/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

Executive Summary

Community members living in Shitoto fetch their water from Abraham Spring. The water is visibly contaminated, a fact confirmed from the constant reports of waterborne disease. The open nature of the spring makes the water vulnerable to surface runoff, erosion, and animal and human activities.

Mr. Abraham Anina, the owner of the land the spring runs through, met us there to give us a tour. He said, "Health conditions and services in our community are impaired. We observe a huge number of ailing community members almost every week. Cases of malaria, typhoid, stomachaches, skin diseases and diarrhea, especially in kids under the age of five, are very common in these households." A sick workforce has resulted in underdevelopment here.

This project is a part of our shared program with Western Water and Sanitation Forum (WEWASAFO). Our team is pleased to directly share the below report (edited for clarity, as needed).

Welcome to the Community

We crossed paths with Miriam on the day of our assessment. A timid, pale and seemingly fatigued middle-aged women, she was walking bare-foot, covered in dirt, and wearing torn clothes. She carried a crying toddler on her back, all the while balancing a basin full of clothes on her head and carrying a jerrycan. She told us of her life as she arrived at the unprotected spring.

Miriam starts her day every morning at 6AM by fetching water. Upon completion of her morning chores, she prepares food for her family, with her children getting ready for school. After breakfast, her husband heads for the farm where he makes bricks and maintains a small sugarcane crop. Daily revenue comes through the sale of milk from their cattle. Sometimes, Miriam has to make multiple trips to get water throughout the day.

A person’s socioeconomic status is measured by the size of their farm and the number of animals they own. In addition to daily chores and multiple trips to fetch water, community members go to markets in hopes of selling the products from their farms. Miriam’s story is common among the members of this community.

Water Situation

The community water source is an unprotected spring. 20-liter lidless containers are used for fetching water. Leaves or banana stalk are sometimes used as improvised lids. Most people do not clean their containers, and those who do use sand or leaves as cleaning agents. At home, water is stored in a bigger container. The relatively well-to-do community members store their water in 100-liter plastic containers at home. The rest of the community stores its water in clay-baked pots.

The current water source is contaminated due to surface runoff, soil erosion, and the prominence of open defecation in the surrounding area. While there is no systemic method of water treatment, a small number of people boil their water before consumption. In rural Kenya, almost 50 percent of the population lacks access to a safe drinking water source. This contributes to the low life expectancy in the country, which now stands at 64 years.

Sanitation and Hygiene Situation

Sanitation is not a priority among the general population. Only a quarter of the population have latrines, which are predominately pit latrines. The community latrines are generally un-durable due to mud and wood based construction. Fear of structural collapse while in the midst of latrine usage disincentives people from using the latrines. This, in addition to limited availability of latrines overall, results in prevalence of open defecation. (Editors Note: Open defecation — the practice of disposing human feces in the fields, forests, bushes, and open bodies of water —is an issue the community is facing). This adversely affects sanitation and degrades overall community health. Less than 25 percent of the population has access to bathing facilities at home, resulting in baths at the contaminated spring. Contaminated water usage results in prominence of waterborne disease among the population. Children under the age of five are especially vulnerable, routinely being infected with diseases like typhoid, diarrhea, and malaria. Due to the prevailing negative attitude towards sanitation and hygiene, education and advocacy on its necessity is imperative.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

Community members will attend hygiene and sanitation training for at least three days. This training will ensure participants are no longer ignorant about healthy practices and their importance. The facilitator plans to use PHAST (Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation), CLTS (Community-Led Total Sanitation), ABCD (Asset-Based Community Development), group discussions, handouts, and demonstrations at the spring.

Training will also result in the formation of a committee that will oversee operations and maintenance at the spring. They 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.

Plans: Sanitation Platforms

On the final day of training, participants will select five families that should benefit from new latrine floors.

Training will also inform the community and selected families on what they need to contribute to make this project a success. They must mobilize locally available materials, such as bricks, clean sand, hardcore, and ballast. The five families must prepare by sinking a pit for the sanitation platforms to be placed over. All community members must work together to make sure that accommodations and food are always provided for the work teams.

Plans: Spring Protection

Fetching water is predominantly a female role, done by both women and young girls. Protecting the spring and offering training and support will therefore help empower the female members of the community by giving them more time and efforts to engage and invest in income-generating activities.

In addition, protecting the spring will ensure that the water is safe, adequate and secure. Construction will keep surface runoff and other contaminants out of the water. Shitoto Community is ready and willing to do everything they can to make this project a success.

Project Updates

October, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Brenda Barnabas Muhalia

This post is part of a new series by The Water Project meant to highlight the perspectives and experiences of the people we serve and how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them. We invite you to read more of their stories here.

Our team recently visited Shitoto to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point, Abraham Spring. Shortly after, we returned to check in on the community, offer a COVID-19 refresher training, and ask how the pandemic is affecting their lives.

It was during this most recent visit that Brenda Barnadas Muhalia shared her story of how the coronavirus is impacting her life and her community. Brenda is a 45-year-old mother living in Shitoto who serves as Shitoto's Community Health Volunteer, helping to spread improved health and hygiene practices among her neighbors and nearby villages. She also volunteers in her elected position of Secretary for Abraham Spring's water user committee. For Brenda, water, sanitation, and hygiene are always connected.

A light moment with Brenda Barnabas Muhalia

Field Officer Betty Muhongo met Brenda outside her home to conduct the interview. Both Betty and Brenda observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Brenda's story, in her own words.

What is one thing that has changed in your community since the completion of the water project?

"Community members never spend money on medication as in the past; protection of this spring has done us good."

We first found Brenda while she was doing some laundry at home

How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?

"Having a clean water point has really helped us because a lot of water is needed for one to fight COVID-19 . Handwashing stations have been installed in all homesteads and water has been available throughout this pandemic. Thus, we are able to prevent COVID-19 by washing our hands frequently."

Brenda washing her hands at home with soap and water from Abraham Spring.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Kenya, has fetching water changed for you because of restrictions, new rules, or your concerns about the virus?

"Yes. Initially, we could overcrowd at the spring without keeping social distance, but when coronavirus was announced, no one wanted to be affected. I only allowed my family members to go the spring when there were no other people."

Brenda fetches water while community members wait in line observing physical distancing

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

"COVID-19 has really affected most families. I have 2 [children who are] candidates [for exams] this year, one in Class 8 and the other in Form 4. We had already paid first-term fees so that our children could be at school throughout the year. Now, we are forced to look for spiritual leaders to come and help us talk to our children to understand the situation and repeat the same class."

Brenda's young son Thomas was very happy to have the camera's attention

What other challenges are you experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

"My husband works as a watchman in a school; since the schools were closed, getting anything to put on the table is not easy. We need to struggle, and the little we get is not even enough with the children at home throughout [each day]."

Camera Operator Allan Amadaro filming Brenda's interview

What hygiene and sanitation steps have you and your community taken to stop the spread of the virus?

"Most people put on a mask where necessary and they also keep the physical distance. Washing hands has become a habit."

Brenda in her mask holding Thomas at home

Like most governments around the world, the Kenyan government continues to set and adjust restrictions both nationally and regionally to help control the spread of the virus.

What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?

"Allowing people to go to church."

What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?

"For all people to go to church, irrespective of age."

Watering her cattle with spring water

When asked where she receives information about COVID-19, Brenda listed the radio, newspaper, and our team's sensitization training.

What has been the most valuable part of the COVID-19 sensitization training you received from our team?

"How to improvise handwashing stations using locally available materials."

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Shitoto Community, Abraham Spring

Our teams are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us in our fight against the virus while maintaining access to clean, reliable water.

Passing out informational pamphlets on COVID-19

We are carrying out awareness and prevention trainings on the virus in every community we serve. Very often, our teams are the first (and only) to bring news and information of the virus to rural communities like Shitoto, Kenya.

Trainer urges new greetings from a distance instead of handshakes

We trained more than 17 people on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19. Due to public gathering concerns, we worked with trusted community leaders to gather a select group of community members who would then relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

Emphasizing a point

We covered essential hygiene lessons:

- Demonstrations on how to build a simple handwashing station

- Proper handwashing technique

- The importance of using soap and clean water for handwashing

- Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces including at the water point.

Handwashing demonstration with the new leaky tin

We covered COVID-19-specific guidance in line with national and international standards:

- Information on the symptoms and transmission routes of COVID-19

- What social distancing is and how to practice it

- How to cough into an elbow

- Alternative ways to greet people without handshakes, fist bumps, etc.

- How to make and properly wear a facemask.

A participant responds to the training

During training, we installed a new handwashing station with soap near the community’s water point, along with a sign with reminders of what we covered.

The reminder chart installed at the spring during training

Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we also dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the disease and provide extra information where needed.

The new leaky tin handwashing station near the spring

We continue to stay in touch with this community as the pandemic progresses. We want to ensure their water point remains functional and their community stays informed about the virus.

Participants review informational pamphlets

Water access, sanitation, and hygiene are at the crux of disease prevention. You can directly support our work on the frontlines of COVID-19 prevention in all of the communities we serve while maintaining their access to safe, clean, and reliable water.

August, 2018: A Year Later: Shitoto Community

A year ago, generous donors helped protect Abraham Spring for Shitoto Community in Western Kenya. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow teams to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the water project over time. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories. Read more...

August, 2017: Shitoto Community Project Complete

Abraham Spring in Shitoto Community, Kenya is now a protected, clean source of water thanks to your donation. The spring is protected from contamination, five sanitation platforms have been provided for the community, and training has been given in sanitation and hygiene. Imagine the changes that all of these resources are going to bring for these residents! You made it happen!  Now, want to do a bit more? Join our team of monthly donors and help us maintain this spring protection and many other projects.

We just updated the project page with the latest pictures, so make sure to check them out! And please enjoy the rest of the report from our partner in Kenya:

Project Result: New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was held at the spring after construction was finished. Locals preferred to meet there because they already travel to Abraham Spring on a daily basis, and they also wanted an opportunity to learn about how the protection system works.

Everyone who uses the spring was invited, but we especially urged every household to have at least one representative present. The sessions were attended by 17 people, out of which 11 were female and six male. The female majority is expected, since Kenyan women are seen as most responsible for water and sanitation in their households. There were both young and old, and we were honored to have the village elder in attendance.

3 kenya4705 training

Training topics included but were not limited to leadership and governance; operation and maintenance of the spring; healthcare; family planning; immunizations; the spread of disease and prevention. We also covered water treatment methods, environmental hygiene, and hygiene promotion. We also took a session to emphasize proper maintenance of the spring protection project. The community should refrain from washing clothes, watering animals, farming with fertilizers, and open defecation in the vicinity.

We brought poster paper and illustrations that facilitated discussion on healthy and unhealthy behaviors. Group discussions were also very effective in helping participants take responsibility for what they were learning. And since we were at the spring, we could take the group over water point management and maintenance.

Community members showed an eagerness to learn as much as possible, and promised to put these things into practice. Mrs. Brendah Mahalia said, "These trainings have been indeed eye-opening for us as community members. We thank our facilitators for coming to help us understand how to maintain our spring and improve sanitation in our homes. I personally will take up the challenge to be monitoring the cleanliness of the spring!"

2 kenya4705 training participants

These training participants now make up the water committee, which is taking charge of water point management and maintenance.

Project Result: Sanitation Platforms

All five sanitation platforms have been installed and are ready for use. These five families are happy about this milestone and are optimistic that there will be much less open defecation. People without proper latrines would often use the privacy of bushes, but now have a private place of their own. It is expected that proper use of latrine facilities provided by the sanitation platforms will go a long way in reducing environmental pollution here. We will continue to encourage these five families to finish building walls and roofs for privacy.

19 kenya4705 a sanitation platform and the walls beginning to go up

This woman and her family are working on finishing the walls and roof around their new sanitation platform.

Project Result: Spring Protection

Community members provided all locally available construction materials, e.g bricks, wheelbarrows of clean sand, wheelbarrows of ballast, fencing poles and hard core (crushed rock and gravel). Accommodation and food for the artisan were provided and a few people volunteered their services as laborers.

8 kenya4705 Mr. Columba fetching water for construction

Mr. Columba lives in Shitoto and was one of several men who volunteered to help protect Abraham Spring.

The spring area was excavated to create space for setting the foundation of polythene, wire mesh and concrete. After the base had been set, both wing walls and the head wall were set in place using brickwork. The discharge pipe was fixed low in place through the head wall to direct the water from the reservoir to the drawing area.

7 kenya4705 laying the foundation

Leveling for the spring foundation.

As the wing walls and head wall were curing, the stairs were set and the tiles were fixed directly below the discharge pipe. This reduces the erosive force of the falling water and beautifies the spring. The process of plastering the head wall and wing walls on both sides reinforces the brickwork and prevents water from the reservoir from seeping through the walls and allows pressure to build in the collection box to push water up through the discharge pipe.  Lastly, the base of the spring was plastered and the collection box was cleaned. The source area was filled up with clean hardcore and covered with a polythene membrane to eliminate any potential sources of contamination. Finally, grass was planted and cutoff drains dug to direct surface water away from the spring box.

The biggest challenge was getting to and from the spring - there is no clear road. Construction materials had to be stored 500 meters away from the spring, and community members and the artisans had to shuttle these materials to the construction site every day.

1 kenya4705 crossing the stream to get to training

The team practically had to drag their motorbike to this area of Shitoto!

But this perseverance paid off with Abraham Spring finally becoming a clean and convenient source of water. Mr. Columba Ommani shared that his "community now has something to be proud of. Having clean water in the community is a big step in the right direction! We are hopeful that the water-related issues will be a thing of the past, and community members can now focus on developing themselves. It's a very unique and well done spring."

Project Videos

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: Shitoto Community

August, 2018

“With clean water from the spring, we now have time to focus on our personal development.” – Mrs. Brenda Mukhalia

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shitoto Community 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!

A year ago, generous donors helped protect Abraham Spring for Shitoto Community in Western Kenya. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow teams to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the water project over time. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – we’re excited to share this one from our partner, Betty Muhongo Majani, with you.

Shitoto community members' lives have really improved over the last year. The water source is no longer contaminated, as was the case before. As we passed through some homes, we noticed sanitation facilities like compost pits and improvised handwashing stations near latrines.

"The project has brought major changes to our community," Mrs. Brenda Mukhalia said.

Mrs. Brenda Mukhalia

Protection of the spring is only one step along the journey toward sustainable access to clean water. The Water Project and WEWASAFO (our trusted local partner) are committed to consistent monitoring of each water source. Our monitoring and evaluation program, made possible by donors like you, allows us to maintain our relationships with communities by visiting up to 4 times each year to ensure that the water points are safe and reliable.

This is just one of the many ways that we monitor projects and communicate with you. Additionally, you can always check the functionality status and our project map to see how all of our water points are performing, based on our consistent monitoring data.

One project is just a drop in the bucket towards ending the global water crisis, but the ripple effects of this project are truly astounding.

"After protection of Abraham Spring, I no longer miss class lessons due to health issues that used to result from taking dirty water from the unprotected spring. Besides that, my performance has really improved," Benson Chomba, a 13-year-old student said.

Benson Chomba

This functional spring protection in Shitoto Community is changing many lives. This is only possible because of the web of support and trust built between The Water Project, WEWASAFO, the community, and you. We are excited to stay in touch with this community and support their journey with safe water.

Read more about The Water Promise and how you can help.

"The level of sanitation in the community has really improved. Most households in the community have put up sanitation platforms such as latrines, clotheslines, compost pits, and handwashing stations helping to reduce infectious diseases from poor hygiene," Mrs. Mukhalia said.

"With clean water from the spring, we now have time to focus on our personal development."

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 Shitoto Community 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 Shitoto Community – 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.


Nandansons Charitable Foundation
Stoughton Area SD/River Bluff Middle School - Heart and Change Challenge
Huntington Central Church of the Nazarene's Campaign for Water
6 individual donor(s)