Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 168 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2016

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/02/2024

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).

Background Information

Robert Chemase Spring is located in Shibuli sub-location, Butsotso Central location, Lurambi sub-county of Kakamega County. The spring has been in use for a long time but has never been protected. The total households using the spring's water for both domestic and drinking uses is 21, and each household consists of about eight people, putting the total number of beneficiaries at about 168 people.

A normal day in this village starts in the early morning with women going to the streams and springs to draw water. They then prepare breakfast for the school-going children, and after head to their farms.

Meanwhile, men are taking care of their cattle and attending to their sugar cane farms. Sugarcane farming is the most common type of agriculture and is this community's main source of income. A better part of the day is spent by everyone on planting and cultivating this crop.

The Current Source

Community members testify that the spring has never dried up, even during the hottest weather and dry seasons. In fact, children from the neighboring Eshikhuyu Primary School occasionally come to Robert Chemase Spring when their own crises arise. Even when the spring is just used by the community, it is still too congested. All of the human activity in the area exacerbates soil erosion and most other types of contamination.

The spring is infested with frogs, and children from the community and neighboring school improperly dispose of their waste. Plastic bags and chunks of dirt were observed floating in the water. Some other contaminates are surface runoff, proximate farming, and open defication. The bush around the spring provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which transmit malaria to the spring beneficiaries.

When fetching water from Robert Chemase Spring, people use bowls, small cups, and jars to fill larger containers. The larger buckets and pots are rarely covered, which subjects the water to more contamination during the trip home. Once home, water is dumped into drums or other pots. All containers are cleaned in the traditional way that utilizes maize cobs, sand, and water. Unfortunately, water containers still appear very dirty. Since the water is obviously not clean, some community members boil their water before drinking. Boiling or not, cases of waterborne disease are reported to be a regular issue.

Robert Chemase, the spring's landowner says, "We have a very big problem with water from this area, most of our children and women are always in the hospitals because of diseases we suspect are associated with water and sanitation issues. Will be glad to have this spring protected and enlighten our community in terms of water and hygiene." The community acknowledges that once the spring is protected, they will be able to get clean water and also minimize the time taken to get that water.

Sanitation Situation

Sanitation facilities within the Robert Chemase Community are very poor, and some families do not even have latrines and thus use the bushes. This is a practice that other community members are not happy about since there is a stream near the spring that is usually used for washing. During rainy weather, this waste is washed into both the drinking spring and the washing stream water. This situation has prompted the community to request training and aid for those that do not have a latrine in their homes. As of now, no more than 50% of households have their own latrine. You will notice that most community members do not have tools like a dish rack or clothesline, and choose to air out their items on the ground. This community will greatly benefit from hygiene and sanitation training to sensitize them on the importance of good hygiene practices.

Training Sessions

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. The final day is meant for training of new community health workers that will promote good health in their village. Also during 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. Community members have already expressed that they are ready and willing to contribute the locally available materials.


For the community to be able to curb the high cases of disease associated with dirty spring water, there is a need to protect the spring. We must also ensure the community is engaged through listening and discussion on the best ways to maintain high standards of hygiene for latrines, compost pits, drying racks and general home cleanliness. This can be done through the community health worker training and the water and sanitation management committees who will oversee there is proper usage of the new, protected water point.

Project Results: Training

Participants gathered at Robert Chemase's homestead, since he is the spring landowner. Mr. Chemase mobilized these members of his community, encouraging each individual to participate and take the sessions seriously. All the participants freely discussed the water, sanitation and hygiene issues affecting them, though women were more vocal since they are most affected: women carry out all the domestic chores including washing, cooking, and cleaning. Topics covered included:

- Forming an effective Water and Sanitation Management Committee and its roles

- Community contributions

- Leadership

- Group dynamics

- Daily water consumption

- Managing and maintaining the spring

- Water pollution and consequential diseases

- Funds collection and management

Upon completion of the training and construction, community members have organized two committees to ensure proper management and maintenance of this project: The two committees are the Water Sanitation Management Committee (WSMC), who will ensure the protected water point is properly used and ensure any damages are repaired. Second, the Community Health Workers Committee (CHW) is responsible to ensure that the community adheres to sanitation and hygiene practices so as to reduce cases of waterborne disease.

After training was over, participant Rose Simiti shared, "We have never seen such a well-protected spring around here, we are happy for this especially with the training and lessons it has come with. This is a serious project and I expect all the community members to adhere to this and we will no longer be queuing at the dispensary for treatment on diseases we can avoid by adhering to the sanitation and hygiene lessons we have gone through. Among others, site management and water related diseases were particularly of great importance to me and I am happy and ready to adhere to every little activity and lesson I have learnt."

Spring Protection

Community members of the CHW and WSMC committees identified five of the most vulnerable households in terms of sanitation facilities to benefit from new sanitation platforms. A total of five sanitation platforms were installed and are now being used by these families. Beneficiaries are making good use of these new latrines because they are now aware of the dangers of open defecation. It is expected that proper use of these sanitation facilities will go a long way in reducing contamination in this community. Rose Simiti also benefited from one of these new facilities, and says, "These sanitation platforms are so nice that my children want to use them every time, I think it makes them comfortable and that’s why you will see one after the other."

Spring protection construction began on January 1st. The site was cleared of brush, and the ground around the spring opening was excavated to make room for construction. Hardcore, sand, gravel, and water were mixed to cast the foundation of the catchment area. From there, walls could be built with fitted pipes. It was then important to excavate and build a proper drainage area and fence in the site.

Community members contributed the locally available materials such as sand, stones, ballast, and bricks. Some young people also volunteered to work alongside the artisans, watching how the artisans worked in case they need to repair the spring protection on their own in the future.

Contamination by surface runoff has been eliminated as a result of this protection project. Cases of waterborne diseases within the community are expected to decrease tremendously. The women and children will now save time previously used searching for safe water, and will use it to undertake other productive activities. Local farmer Imbai Ndeta happily says, "This is amazing to see this water in this different manner from a few days ago when we used to take lots of time to get dirty water home, we are going to protect and ensure this water source is fully taken care of. We are no longer going to suffer and use our resources in that clinic anymore, and in fact they will start asking where we have gone to!"

Thank You for your generous heart that makes all of this possible!

Project Updates

August, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Robert Chemasia

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 Shibuli to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point, Robert Chemase 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 Robert Chemasia shared his story of how the coronavirus has impacted his life.

Robert talks about how his community has changed since the protection of their spring, and walks through 2 of his new norms during the pandemic: wearing a mask and frequent handwashing.

"A walk through the community and the spring confirmed that they are still practicing most of the things they learned in the training. During our visit to conduct this interview we were well received by the community  - an indication of appreciation of our training," said Trainings Manager Jacklyne Chelagat.

Robert is a 42-year-old father and boda boda (motorbike taxi) driver who depends on the spring of his own name for his daily water needs. As the landowner of the spring (hence the water point's name) Robert also serves as the Chair of the water user committee, helping to maintain the spring's environment and keep up with maintenance.

Jacklyne met Robert outside his home to conduct the interview while both observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. Their questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.

Robert stands outside his home to meet Jacklyne.

What is one thing that has changed in your community since the protection of Robert Chemase Spring?

"The installation of Robert Chemase Spring has changed things for the better. Consumption of clean and safe water has helped improve the good health of community members, and sanitation and hygiene in most homes is admirable."

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

"A sufficient supply of clean and safe water has boosted the ability to wash hands frequently. Each home has a leaky tin that helps to promote proper handwashing."

Robert fetches water at the spring of his own name.

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?

"A lot has changed and people fetching water have also been forced to adjust. People are not allowed to crowd at the water source and each member keeps social distance from one another. Members ensure that they wear face masks while fetching water and they do not waste most of the time at the spring as they fetch water in turns."

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

"The closure of schools is so disadvantageous to our children. Most of our children have joined bad groups that practice uncouth behaviors. Studying from home is difficult and we are worried about impending poor performances among many students."

Physical distancing at the spring is the new norm.

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

"Poverty is on the increase as many of my customers are no longer going to work. The government has been encouraging people to stay at home and to limit movement."

"In Western Kenya, especially among the Luhya community, we really value the dead, burials, and all rituals associated with it. Due to the pandemic, the government has banned all social gatherings and has reduced burials to close family members. I believe our ancestors are not happy and we are not being fair to the dead all because of coronavirus."

Robert (center) with his brother (left) and aunt (right).

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

"The community is keen on washing hands frequently, they have made leaky tins with soap which allows every member to wash hands before entering their houses. Each member is trying their best to wear masks and also they are observing social distance."

Robert washes his hands with soap and clean water from the spring using the tippy tap handwashing station he set up outside his 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 disease.

What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?

"Allowing people to go to church and fellowship was the most amazing thing the government did. We were thirsty to hear the word of God and in such situations, we also believe in divine intervention."

Robert spreads out his harvest to dry in the sun.

What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?

"Being a motorcycle rider, I used to work till late hours of the night but now I am limited as a result of the dusk to dawn curfew. I wish the government could give us freedom of time and be free to do our business till late by lifting the curfew."

Portrait of Robert wearing his mask.

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

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

"Handwashing and mask-making were the key topics taught and every member is still practicing."

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Shibuli Community, Robert Chemase 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 Shigali shows how to make a mask

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 Shibuli, Kenya.

The completed sample mask

We trained more than 21 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.

An impressive handwashing station already set up in the community

At the time, social distancing was a new concept, and one that challenges cultural norms. Although some community members were hesitant to adopt social distancing during the training, we sensitized them on its importance and effectiveness in combating the spread of the virus.

Trainer Chelagat leads handwashing demonstration

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

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.

Handwashing demonstration

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.

Trainer Chelagat and a community member pose with the prevention reminder sign they installed at the spring

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.

Women with their informational pamphlets observe social distancing

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.

Handwashing demonstration

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.

December, 2017: A Year Later: Robert Chemase Spring

A year ago, generous donors helped protect Robert Chemase Spring for Eshikuyu Community in Western Kenya. Because of these gifts and the contributions of our monthly donors, partners are able to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the actual water project. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – we’re excited to share this one from our partner, Betty Majani, with you.

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!

"This is amazing to see this water in this different manner from a few days ago..."

Imbai Ndeta

A Year Later: Robert Chemase Spring

December, 2017

Since the protection of the Chemase Spring, people living in this community are not the same. Their compounds are very clean, and they wash their hands after visiting latrines.

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shibuli Community, Robert Chemase 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 Robert Chemase Spring for Eshikuyu Community in Western Kenya. Because of these gifts and the contributions of our monthly donors, partners are able to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the actual water project. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – we’re excited to share this one from our partner, Betty Majani, with you.

Betty arranged to meet community members at Robert Chemase Spring to talk about their first year with clean water. On her way there, she passed through the village to check the cleanliness of homesteads. It's normal to see a drastic change right after hygiene and sanitation training, with new sanitation facilities popping up everywhere. But it's important to continue checking in with the community to see that these facilities are maintained and still being used as time goes on.

Betty was excited to see that household after household had dish racks, clotheslines, and compost pits that were all being used. The owners of these facilities told Betty that they maintain them sheerly because they've seen a huge jump in health; whether it be the clean water or good hygiene and sanitation, community members cherish both because of the life improvements they've experienced.

Landowner Robert Chemase at the clean water source that bears his name.

Robert Chemase met Betty at the spring and told her, "Since the protection of the Chemase Spring, people living in this community are not the same. Their compounds are very clean, and they wash their hands after visiting latrines. This has tremendously reduced waterborne diseases."

9-year-old Valary Mwanje attends nearby Eshimoni Primary School. "Since the spring was protected, I have had enough time to do my school work and my performance has improved. I no longer waste time fetching water from the spring," she said. All she has to do is set her jerrycan down and let it fill with clean water from the discharge pipe.

Officer Betty with Valary

Both Mr. Chemase and Valary mentioned that since the spring is located at the bottom of a hill, lots of dirt washes down into the spring area. Betty suggested that the hill be terraced to prevent this kind of erosion.

The WEWASAFO team will continue to walk alongside this community through consistent monitoring visits. We are excited to stay in touch with this community and to report back more positive stories. These visits will also give Betty an opportunity to follow up on any terracing efforts.

The Water Project and our partners are committed to consistent monitoring of each water source. Our monitoring and evaluation program, made possible by monthly donors, allows us to visit communities up to 4 times a year. Read more about our program 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 Shibuli Community, Robert Chemase 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 Shibuli Community, Robert Chemase 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.


Thompson Family
St. James Catholic Church
Heeringa Family
St. Peter's Covenant Church of Hilltown
Sarah Budde
34 individual donor(s)