Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 490 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2017

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 01/19/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

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

Each day begins very early with the men of this Shitaho community milking their animals and tilling their small plots of land for harvest. Maize, sugarcane, and fruits are most commonly grown here. A few of these same men earn extra money as night guards in nearby Kakamega Town.

The women must make several trips to fetch water, often with dirty, open 20-liter containers. They struggle to clean their homes, wash, cook and send their children off to school. Then, some of these women head to Kakamega to work at their businesses until late evening. They either sell roasted maize, sugarcane, fruit, seedlings, charcoal, or firewood.

Water Situation

Many families in Shitaho walk down a slope to fetch their water from Mwikholo Spring. Animals come and go, people wade into and dip their hands, and rainwater washes dirt and feces into the spring's water. The rainier the season, the muddier the spring's water becomes. Adults and children use uncovered plastic containers as big as they can carry to and from the spring. Many of these are dirty; we heard one woman say she doesn't wash her water containers more than once a month.

When water is delivered home, it is separated between the living room, kitchen, and latrine (if the family has one). Most families have been able to afford large plastic storage containers to decrease the number of trips needed to fetch water.

Community members constantly suffer from typhoid and other waterborne diseases after drinking water from Mwikholo Spring.

Sanitation Situation

Less than a quarter of families have their own pit latrine. Those there are made of mud walls and wooden floors, which rot out and endanger the user. Because of these poor conditions, open defecation is an issue; locals relieve themselves out in the open and rainwater and flies carry that feces to other places.

None of the homes visited had a place to wash hands, nor did many have dish racks or clotheslines. Garbage is thrown at the edge of gardens, because it is believed to produce a better crop. However, chickens and dogs dig through this garbage and carry it from one end of the compound to the other.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

Community members will attend hygiene and sanitation training for at least two 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 latrines.

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

One day, as some of them traveled through another village on their way to the funeral of their church-mate, they witnessed the transformation of what they had known as "an open hole with water." Curiosity caused them to ask how this had happened, and the learned this was called a spring protection system.

Now they want safe, clean water too. As Lewis K put it, "You may not know the amount of help you will be giving to this community by protecting our only source of water. It is us that stay here who understand how much we've suffered as a result of using contaminated water from this spring. I strongly believe that we sometimes make this water dirty through our own unhealthy practices without our knowledge. We need help, please. We need clean water."

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.

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.

Project Updates

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Shitaho Community, Mwikholo 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.

Trainer Christine Masinde offers to sanitize attendees' hands before beginning the session

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 Shitaho, Kenya.

We trained more than 11 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.

Trainer Christine Masinde reviews the symptoms of COVID-19

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.

Participants observe social distancing at training

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.

Following along with the handwashing lesson

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. 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 painted sign that was left at the spring with reminders about COVID-19 prevention

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.

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.

October, 2018: A Year Later: Mwikholo Spring

A year ago, generous donors helped protect Mwikholo Spring for Shitaho 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...

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: Mwikholo Spring

August, 2018

“Fetching water here as been so easy and enjoyable!” – Vivian Wanjofu

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shitaho Community, Mwikholo Spring 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 Mwikholo Spring for Shitaho 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 Jonathan Mutai, with you.

"We are grateful for the good work you did to us. We are now drawing water in a good, clean environment. It is not like before where we used to draw water in a muddy environment," Mr. Kola Faustus, Secretary of the Water User Committee said.

The entire community is now accessing safe and clean water for drinking and household chores due to protection of Mwikholo Spring.  Cases of waterborne diseases in the area have drastically decreased.

"Since completion of the spring, I no longer have to carry small container for filling the bigger container when fetching water," Vivian Wanjofu, a 14 year-old girl, said.

"Fetching water here as been so easy and enjoyable!"

The community members have improved in sanitation and hygiene. The majority of households have pit latrines with improvised handwashing facilities placed outside called "Tippy Taps." Also, dish racks and clotheslines are easily spotted. The water source is kept very clean by this proud community.

Protection of this spring is only one step along the journey toward sustainable access to clean water. The Water Project and our teams on the ground 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.

As we compiled these interviews, we noticed an issue with the discharge. We sent the artisan back to repair the fourth discharge pipe:

The fourth discharge pipe back in place as of September 2018.

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. This functional spring in Shitaho Community is changing many lives.

This is only possible because of the web of support and trust built between The Water Project, our local teams, 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.

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 Shitaho Community, Mwikholo Spring 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 Shitaho Community, Mwikholo Spring – 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.


Fishing Creek Baptist Church
St. Louise Parish
2 individual donor(s)