Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Program: Kenyan Spring Protection

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2015

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 07/09/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

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

Background Information

This unprotected spring is located in Emusala village, Indangalasia sub-location, Butsotso East location, Kakamega North District within Kakamega County. The spring serves over 50 households with a total population of 850 people out of which 449 are Men and 401 are women.

(Editor's Note: While this many people may have access on any given day, realistically a single water source can only support a population of 350-500 people. This community would be a good candidate for a second project in the future so adequate water is available. To learn more, click here.)

The water is used for drinking, cooking, watering animals and irrigation on the farms during dry periods, which are normally witnessed in Kakamega during the months of December to February. The spring has a continuous supply of water even during dry seasons when other sources are completely dry. The community members and pupils of nearby schools congest at the spring.  Pupils of Emusala primary school with a population of more than 700 draw water from the unprotected spring during the dry periods.


The community members reported that they have suffered from many cases of water borne diseases like typhoid, amoeba and dysentery as a result of drinking water from this unprotected water spring. Since the spring is unprotected, it is open to contamination by surface run off, people stepping into the water as they fetch, and animals that drinking from it.

A lot of time is wasted by the women who have to wait for the water to settle before fetching. In addition, as they wait to fetch water, they engage in gossip, resulting to conflicts among themselves.

With regard to water improvement, the community members stated that they have been drinking the water for years and very few boil or disinfect it.

Sanitation is also a big problem as many people have no good latrines and others even use the bushes. During the rainy seasons, the waste is washed into the spring leading to contamination of the water.

The community members are in dire need of support and are urging The Water Project and WEWASAFO to consider them and protect the spring so that they can reduce the cases of water borne diseases and also reduce time wasted in order to engage in other economic activities.

Water Sanitation Management Committee Training

The Water Sanitation Management Committee (WSMC) training for Otsimi spring was held from 14th to 15th July at Mr. Elphas Mukabana compound, the land owner.

A total of 20 people attended the training out of which 5 were males, 15 were females. The attendance included community members, the chief of the area, a village elder and 4 WEWASAFO WASH staff.

The training was aimed at equipping the committees with skills on issues of operation and maintenance so as to ensure future sustainability of the protected water source.

Day 1. 14th July 2015

The forum commenced with an opening prayer from Pastor Jacob Atsatsa and this was followed by an introduction of all members. The introduction format entailed stating their names, likes and dislikes.

The majority of the participants stated they like peace, development, helping one another, socializing, meeting new people, working together and welcoming visitors. While dislikes included being provoked, gossips, lies, tribalism and delving into other people’s private affairs.

WEWASAFO Background

The facilitator then took the participants through the details of Western Water and Sanitation Forum. She stated WEWASAFO is a non-governmental organization working in Western Kenya with focus on four main key result areas; Water hygiene and sanitation, Agriculture and Food security, Gender and governance, and Micro-finance.

The participants reacted that they knew about some of the projects that WEWASAFO is implementing. Many noted their recognition of the water tank and new pit latrines at Emusala primary school which had been constructed by WEWASAFO.

Others stated that they had benefitted from the local poultry project and that they had been linked to the market where they sold their poultry. It was evident that WEWASAFO projects were felt within this community.

Background of the WASH project

The participants were informed that this WASH project is funded by the The Water Project with an objective of improving health standards and reduce water related diseases by ensuring access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene in specific intervention villages within Kakamega and Vihiga counties.

Objectives of the training

The participants were led through the workshop objectives as follows:

1. Equip community members with relevant skills and knowledge for operation and maintenance of water points

2. Facilitate acquisition and development of relevant management and leadership skills for communities to be self reliant.

3. To enhance community capacity to effectively monitor and supervise water catchment areas and health education activities in their villages.

4. To equip the community with skills to collect funds and keep proper records for operation and maintenance of water facilities.

Community participation

The participants were reminded what they are expected to contribute towards the construction of a spring and the household slabs.

They were informed for the spring the community was expected to contribute the following:

- Stones

- Clean Sand

- Ballast

- Fencing poles

- Unskilled labor

- Food and accommodation for artisans

Leadership and Governance

In order for the participants to appreciate leadership styles and characteristics of a good leader, they were assigned into two groups to discuss the following:

1. Who is leader?

2. Good and bad characteristics of  leaders in relation in relation to characteristics of animals such as:

- Elephant: strong and assertive but can be destructive if not careful.

- Tortoise: friendly and approachable but can lack drive and initiative.

- Giraffe: able to see what is coming, to anticipate future issues, but can be disconnected from what is going on right now.

The group discussed different leadership styles like dictatorships and democracies. The facilitators worked to convey that leadership must be strong enough to influence the community in the right direction, but wise enough to empower the community to take ownership and responsibility for their needs.


Through brain storming the water user committees agreed on the following as their roles:

- Ensure that their community contribution is available in time for protection of the spring

- To ensure water consumers don’t contaminate/pollute the  protected water source

- To make a constitution to govern the  water spring

- To ensure grass planting, cut off drainage, fencing and tree    planting is done

- To manage and maintain water source

Day 2: 15TH JULY 2015


In order for the participants to understand the ways that water spring is contaminated and how to protect the water catchment they were taken through the practical session at the spring to understand the water catchment area and the sources of contamination.

The facilitator took the participants through the water catchment area of the spring while pointing out to them the critical areas that require high level of maintenance in order to reduce water pollution, spring blockage, seepage or loss of water completely.

Good and bad health practices

By the use of PHAST tools, the participants brainstormed the good and bad health practices. Below are the practices that were drawn and explained from the charts:

Good health practices entailed:

- Covering stored food

- Covering water

- Digging of a compost pit

- Using clean utensils

- Veiling hair while cooking

- Washing hands before cooking

- Washing hands after visiting the toilet

Bad health practices entailed:

- Urinating in water

- Defecating in bushes

- Washing in the river

- Carrying uncovered water

- Using dirty latrine

- Cleaning the spring with soap

- Animals’ activities near water catchment area

- Bathing near the spring

Closing remarks

Mrs. Beatrice Omutula, the vice chair of the water user committee thanked WEWASAFO for considering their area.

She stated that they had been neglected by many development partners, a bitter fact that had made Indangalasi sub location lag behind in development for decades.

In the same spirit she expressed her gratitude to all members for their valid presence and participation in the training. She called upon the committee officials and the entire community to embrace and support the project by working closely with the organization and putting into practice everything learnt in the workshop.

Community Health Workers Training

The Community Health WorkerS (CHW) training for Otsimi spring was held from 16th to 17th July at Mr. Elphas Mukabana compound.

A total number of 22 people attended the training out of which 6were males, 13 were females and 1 person with disability. The attendance included the chief of the area and one of his village elders and 4 WEWASAFO Wash staff.

The training was aimed at equipping the community health workers with skills on issues of water and hygiene promotion so as to reduce cases of water borne diseases.

Objectives of training

Members were led through the workshop objectives as follows:

1. To enable participants be resource persons in facilitation and dissemination of hygiene messages by use of participatory methods and approaches

2. Increase and equip participants with knowledge on hygiene promotion activities.

3. Elect Community Health workers who will undertake the hygiene promotion.

Role of hygiene promoters

The facilitator helped the participants to appreciate and understand their roles in hygiene promotion and they defined them as:

1. Making sure the spring is clean

2. Making sure there is no washing/ bathing at the source

3. Making sure nobody fights at the spring

During home visits community health workers were to educate the community on having:

- Dish racks

- Compost pits

- Cloth lines

- Clean latrines

- Bathrooms

- Drain stagnant waters

- Nutrition and diet

- Family planning /Immunization

- Kitchen gardens

- HIV/AIDS awareness

During spring visits they were to be aware and advise the community on the:

- Status of the spring

- Farming activities around the spring

- The rate of disease decrease

- Spring management, conservation and protection.

Results of the Project: Spring Protection

Protection of Otsimi spring is complete and now in use by the community members.

The community members are now very happy that their spring is no longer open to contamination by surface run off after protection. Again, they no longer have to step on water as they fetch water. Time is no longer wasted by the women who initially had to wait for the water to settle before fetching as a result of stepping in water. The spring has a good discharge and it takes only 15 seconds to fill 20 litre jerrican. Therefore women no longer have to queue for long as they wait to fetch water. This saves a lot of time. The time saved is now utilized for constructive economic activities. Cases of water borne diseases like typhoid, diarrheal and dysentery are expected to reduce since the community members are now drinking safe water from the spring.

Household sanitation platforms

Five sanitation platforms (cement slabs for latrine construction) for the beneficiaries around Otsimi spring have been cast and installed. The installed sanitation platforms are now in use serving a total number of 32 people of which 17 are male and 15 are female.

Juliet, one of the slab beneficiaries, really thanked The Water Project for casting a slab for her family. She admitted that they can now use the latrine as opposed to the previous situation where they were forced to use the bush due to lack of latrine. She also appreciated the trainings conducted at the spring. Hygiene and Sanitation has improved in her home.

Project Updates

August, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Silas Mukabane

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.

Silas Mukabane is a 29-year-old businessperson who calls Emusala Village home. As an active community member invested in the longevity of their protected Otsimi Spring, Silas also serves as the vice-chair of the spring's water user committee.

Silas Mukabane stands outside his home in Emusala to greet Field Officer Ian Nakitare.

Our team recently visited Emusala to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point. 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 Silas shared his story of how the coronavirus has impacted his life.

 Video Part 1: Water - Silas reflects on how his community's water use has changed since the protection of Otsimi Spring.

Field Officer Ian Nakitare met Silas outside his home to conduct the interview. Both Ian and Silas observed social distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety.

"The community is yet to record any case of coronavirus, but they are enlightened. They have handwashing points which are filled with clean water from Otsimi Spring. They have masks on and are keeping social distance to prevent themselves from contracting the virus," said Field Officer Ian Nakitare reflecting on his visit to Emusala to interview Silas.

Their questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.

 Video Part 2: Training Reflection - Silas shares what he considered to be the most valuable aspects of our team's COVID-19 sensitization training in his village and how community members have put into practice what they learned.

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

"Our health has improved. We no longer have rampant cases of water-related ailments. We have clean water very close to us and we are happy. More community members and even neighboring villages come to get water from our spring. Our community is clean as community members are following the teachings from the trainings conducted during the implementation of the project."

Silas (right) along with the water user committee chair, treasurer, and the village elder

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

"Clean water is essential in proper handwashing, thus having access to clean water has made it easy for me to constantly wash my hands to keep coronavirus away."

Silas fetches water at Otsimi Spring while another community member observes social distancing waiting in line.

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, fetching water has changed for me. I make sure I have water fetched from the spring very early in the morning to avoid creating a crowd when other community members go to fetch water. We are also practicing social distancing when fetching water to avoid close contact with each other."

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

"We are an average family and we survive by working as unskilled laborers to provide for our families. With the coronavirus with us in Kenya and the stringent restrictions on curfew and cessation of movement, it has been hard to find work. In the last 3 months, we have relied on food planted in our small firms for meals. We are hoping the next harvest season comes sooner as the stocks we had are almost exhausted. With our children at home from the closure of schools, we have had to adjust and try to teach them basic work skills so that they may help us to get an extra shilling to meet our needs. Boys go out with their dads to find jobs as girls are helping their mothers to hair dress clients and do home chores. This has helped keep them in check to avoid unwanted indiscipline cases."

Sials stands outside his parents' home with this mother (center) and sister (left)

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

"COVID-19 has caused fear among people. A simple cough can make people run from you thinking you are infected. This stigma has made people fear each other and doing business or even visiting neighbors is hard. We most of the time have to stay at home and hope for brighter days ahead."

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

"My community is now enlightened after the COVID sensitization training was conducted by The Water Project. We now have simple hands-free handwashing stations installed in the community. Using these stations, we are handwashing using the proper handwashing steps with soap and running water. Community members are also wearing homemade cloth masks to protect them from contracting the virus."

Silas washes his hands with soap and water from Otsimi Spring using a handwashing station he installed outside his home.

Like most governments around the world, the Kenyan government has set and adjusted several sets of restrictions both nationally and tailored to certain regions since the outbreak began to help control the spread of the disease.

Have any COVID-19-related restrictions been lifted since they began in Kenya?


What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?

"We have reduced curfew hours. This excited us as we can now have more time to work and earn more."

What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?

"We still have major towns locked down and goods can't trickle to us in small towns. If this lockdown could be lifted, our small business that depends on goods from Nairobi will thrive again. We also await the opening of social places and schools for our children to continue being enlightened, for them to have a better life than ours."

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

Silas introduces our team to community members at the COVID-19 refresher training.

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

"We learned how to make homemade cloth masks, and this was helpful as it has cut down the cost of buying masks. A lot of community members initially didn't have masks due to the high prices and our low income, but now most of the community members wear masks made from home. It has made us feel safer and we can go out to the market comfortably."

June, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Otsimi 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.

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 Emusala, Kenya.

We trained community members 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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!


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Edward Town Middle School
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