Omulakha Spring Protection Project

Regional Program:
Western Kenya WaSH Program

Latitude 0.34
Longitude 34.77

217 Served

Project Status:

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Stories and 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

Omulakha Spring is an unprotected spring located in Emukaba Village, Indangalasia sub-location, Butsotso East location, East Butsotso Ward, Lurambi sub-county of Kakamega County. The spring serves 31 households of approximately seven family members each, totaling 217 beneficiaries.

A normal day in Emukaba Village involves women waking up early to go fetch water from their nearby unprotected spring. This they use at home to prepare meals for the family who need to leave for school or to work on their farms. The evenings are spent with men either resting at home or attending meetings, while the women sell local farm produce in the nearby village markets, where they also buy food for their family’s evening meal. Sugarcane farming is paramount in Emukaba Village, which covers a majority of the farmland.

Water Situation

An unprotected spring is open to contamination of every sort. Since this area is covered in farms, fertilizers and pesticides are some of the more dominant contaminants. Not only are there chemicals on these farms, but the privacy of sugarcane crop also draws both human and animal to use it as a bathroom. Chemicals are washed into the spring when it rains, but also bathroom waste.

Right upon arriving at the spring, we recognized the contamination. Before the spring’s water is disturbed, green algae floats on top. The spring’s water is used for drinking, cooking watering animals, and other domestic chores.

Plastic jerrycans are the primary water container used to transport water from the spring. A smaller container is brought to pour water from the spring into the jerrycan, most of which do not have covers to protect water on the way home. Once home, the water is separated into other containers by use. Earthen pots are used for drinking water, since they have covers and keep the water cool. The rest of the water for domestic use is poured into a large plastic bucket.

Community members do not know how important it is to treat or boil water before drinking. When people drink the spring’s water without taking these steps, cases of diarrhea are reported, especially among the small children. Incidences of typhoid and other water-related diseases have also been reported.

Sanitation Situation

Under 25% of households have a pit latrine. Any pit latrines we observed were in poor condition, made of mud that is falling apart. Many children and elderly people fear using these latrines because they are unstable; users risk falling through the floor into the pit. Since so few families have a pit latrine of their own, open defecation is a huge issue here.

The same, small number of households have bathing rooms available for personal hygiene. Less than a quarter have helpful tools like dish racks and clotheslines to dry belongings up off the ground. We found no hand-washing stations.

The community will be trained on the importance of having and using the above facilities. They look forward to this learning opportunity.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training and Sanitation Platforms

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. On the final day of training, participants will select five families that should benefit from new latrines that have sanitation platforms (concrete pit latrine floors).

Based on the initial visit, the facilitator decided to focus on the following training topics:

Proper handling and treatment of water and food
Dangers of open defecation
Protecting, preserving, and managing community water sources
Practicing personal and environmental hygiene

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

We met Mr. Josiah Abwalaba, one of the community’s many sugarcane farmers. He too has noticed the problem of open defecation and how it occurs on his own farm. He said, “Many of our people lack proper latrines and the slabs (sanitation platforms) you bring will ease the problem of open defecation in the community, and constructing a superstructure isn’t difficult. The slab is the most important, and we will be very grateful if approved for the project!”

Plans: Spring Protection

Community members have already been collecting the local materials that will be used for spring protection construction, such as rocks and sand. Some of the families who want sanitation platforms have already sunk their pits in preparation! This is evidence that the entire community is ready and willing to unite for positive change.

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. The sanitation facilities and trainings will also enable, enlighten and build the capacity of the community so that they can take matters into their own hands.

Project Photos

Recent Project Updates

12/15/2017: A Year Later: Omulakha Spring

A year ago, generous donors helped build a spring protection and sanitation platforms for the community surrounding Omulakha Spring in Kenya. Because of these gifts and 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 partners, Sarah Kitui and Rose Serete, with you.

The Water Project : 4578_yar_4

10/26/2016: Omulakha Spring Protection Project Complete

We are excited to report that the project to protect Omulakha Spring in Kenya is now complete. 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 help keep the water flowing! 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 open the “See Photos & Video” tab to enjoy!

Project Result: New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training took place next to the spring in the shade of a tree. Community members really wanted to remain at this location so that they could witness spring protection construction. This allowed our facilitator to explain the process and to hold onsite demonstrations. This also helped our artisans who occasionally needed some extra strong arms. Since we visited so often in preparation for this project, we were able to recruit a good number of locals.

1 kenya4578 training

The first day of training was on September 14th.

15 men and women showed up to learn about practices they can adopt to improve health in their community. Women were especially involved in asking and answering questions because they are normally most responsible for water, sanitation and hygiene.

The facilitator used demonstrations, role-plays, discussions, and brainstorming to teach those topics and more.

Antonina Muyale, a housewife and spring beneficiary had this to say during the hand-washing session:

“After the food is prepared and the table set, or aim is to fill the stomach! Hand-washing with soap causes delay, let alone the smell of soap that remains in the hands. We have only been using soap to wash our hands after eating meat and not before the meals. Thanks a lot for the training as we no know why we frequent the hospitals. We will from today use soap before meals to clean our hands and not just after meals, because now we know when to wash our hands and why!”

By the end of the three days, participants formed a water user committee to oversee and maintain the spring protection. Other participants were equipped with the knowledge to become community health workers. These workers will be responsible for sharing what they learned with the rest of their community. Everybody there agreed to see that dish racks, clotheslines, hand-washing stations and pit latrines are present at every single household.

3 kenya4578 training

Project Result: Sanitation Platforms

All five sanitation platforms have been installed and are ready for use. The people were so eager for these that they had sunk the pit long before the platforms were ready. 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 pollution of the environment.

23 kenya4578 sanitation platform

Project Result: Spring Protection

Construction to protect Omulakha Spring began on September 12th.

We began with our initial water quality test that verifies that the spring’s water is contaminated and warrants protection. When we got the results, we could begin excavating the land to build a level foundation. We then dug further up the slope from the spring’s discharge pipe until there was three feet of water flowing. Hard core is packed, reinforced, and the foundational slab is cast. After the floor, we can build the walls and wings up. The delivery pipes, inlets, and discharge pipe can then be installed. A screen is fitted between the catchment area and the spring box. The community then digs proper drainage and builds a fence around the catchment area.

6 kenya4578 construction

There were no challenges or delays to the project. The community worked very well with us, and were so grateful for the final project. Mrs. Susan Namwaya, the elected secretary of the water user committee, is in the last trimester of her pregnancy. She is so joyful about the relief this spring protection brings her. She no longer has to find her balance on top of stones as she bends over to draw water from the ground. She said, “Thank you for what you’ve done to our community. I don’t think I would be smiling a month ago as I do now. In my condition, it was a torture to draw water from the unprotected spring, but now it’s a blessing coming to our newly protected spring. What do you think? Thank you isn’t enough, but it’s all I’ve got. Thank you!”

As a result of the project, many people in the area have been drawn to the spring just to see the strange thing that has happened. They call it strange, as they are used to drawing water from dozens of unprotected springs in their area. Those that reach the spring and observe clear water flowing from the delivery pipe have nothing but words of appreciation. Many have thus left their unprotected springs and opted for the clean water at the new Omulakha Spring.

20 kenya4578 protected spring

It is rare in Africa to see a man fetching water for his family. However, since the protection, a particular man has become a common figure at the spring. The search for clean and safe water, which isn’t anywhere near his home, has driven this man to make at least two trips daily to the newly protected spring. He attaches two 20-liter jerrycans to his bicycle to fetch this water and transport it back home. The distance isn’t a big issue for him; he smiles all the way home after getting clean water for his family.

The community now enjoys clean water and will soon turn their backs to the water-related diseases from which they once suffered.

The Water Project : 15-kenya4578-protected-spring

08/29/2016: Omulakha Spring Protection Project Underway

We are excited to share that work around Omulakha Spring has begun. Community members have been drinking contaminated water from this spring, and often suffer physical illnesses after doing so. Our partner conducted a survey of the area and deemed it necessary to protect the spring, build new sanitation platforms (safe, easy-to-clean concrete floors for latrines), and conduct sanitation and hygiene training. Thanks to your generosity, waterborne disease will no longer be a challenge for the families drinking the spring’s water. We look forward to sharing more details with you as they come! But for now, please take some time to click on the tabs above to find our report containing community information, pictures, and GPS coordinates.

The Water Project and the community of Omulakha Spring Thank You for giving the hope of clean water and good health.

The Water Project : 1-kenya4578-unprotected-spring

Monitoring Data

Project Type:  Protected Spring
Location:  Kakamega, Emukaba
ProjectID: 4578
Install Date:  10/25/2016

Monitoring Data
Water Point:
Last Visit: 01/13/2018

Visit History:
11/15/2016 — Functional
12/11/2016 — Functional
03/21/2017 — Functional
05/09/2017 — Functional
08/31/2017 — Functional
01/13/2018 — Functional

A Year Later: Omulakha Spring Community

November, 2017

“Health of the people in the community has improved! There are reduced cases of waterborne diseases. Initially people used to drink untreated water, but now they have clean and safe water for drinking.”

A year ago, generous donors helped build a spring protection and sanitation platforms for the community surrounding Omulakha Spring in Kenya. Because of these gifts and 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 partners, Sarah Kitui and Rose Serete, with you.

The community around the Omulakha Spring is excited about the changes they have experienced this year with a protected spring.  Lavin Achimbo, age 8, expressed great relief because of a reduction in diseases like typhoid this year.  Both Lavin and a chairman in the community, shared that the sanitation and hygiene and sanitation training conducted by WEWASAFO has helped to improve health and cut down significantly the cases diarrhea.

Sarah Kitui, a WEWASAFO employee, reported, “The community has kept the spring’s site clean, fenced, and cleared from the long grass.  They have their own set of rules that help them in maintaining the spring and keeping it clean.”  Sustainable improved health for a community depends on both clean water access and consistent hygiene and sanitation practices, and the community surrounding the Omukhala Spring is providing an excellent example of what can happen when both of these things are implemented.


WEWASAFO will continue working with the Omulakha community to ensure that clean water is consistently available, even during the dry seasons when many wells and springs experience lower yield in water supply.  The Omulakha community has integrated much of the WEWASAFO training into community life, keeping the water clean until it is used or consumed, building latrines, and maintaining a healthier environment.

We know that the positive changes around Omulakha Spring from clean water access and healthy lifestyle changes will have ripples of impact throughout their community and in the surrounding areas.  We are excited to stay in touch with this community and to report the news as they continue on their journey with clean water.

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.

Country Details


Population: 39.8 Million
Lacking clean water: 43%
Below poverty line: 50%

Partner Profile

Western Water and Sanitation Forum (WEWASAFO) works together with less privileged and marginalized members of communities in Western Kenya to reduce poverty through harnessing and utilization of local resources for sustainable development.