Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Program: Kenyan Spring Protection

Impact: 240 Served

Project Phase:  Decommissioned

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

This unprotected spring is located in Emusoli Village, Mwitumbwi sub-location, Mukhalakhala location, Mwivona Ward of Luanda Sub County within Vihiga County. The spring serves 30 households with a total population of 240 people out of which 100 are Men and 140 are women.

The water is used for drinking, cooking, watering animals and irrigating farms.


The spring is contaminated by constant natural run-off and human contact when fetching water. After large bouts of spring-side activity, the water is dirtied to the point that locals have to wait some time to draw water again. This waiting leads to loss of economic potential; it is time that would otherwise be used to farm or take care of children.

As a result of drinking unprotected water, community members report that they have suffered from many cases of water borne diseases and sicknesses including typhoid, diarrhea and dysentery.

Sanitation in the community also needs improvement. Many households have latrines that are in poor condition. Both children and the elderly fear to use these latrines, afraid that they may fall inside.

Without the latrines, the only other option is to use the bush outside. And consequently when it rains, human waste is washed down to the water source.

The community members are requesting WEWASAFO to consider protecting their spring, reducing cases of water borne diseases and illness.

Water Sanitation and Management Committee Training

The Water Sanitation and Management Committee Training’s purpose was to equip water-using committee members with knowledge and skills concerning operation and maintenance of their spring. The Otwato spring is located in Vihiga County, Emuhaya constituency, Mukhalakhala location.

The training was conducted from July 14-15, 2015 at the spring. It was attended by 14 people out of which were six men and eight women.

WEWASOFO Key Projects

The training officer introduced Western Water and Sanitation Forum as a Non-Governmental Organization based in West Kenya with headquarters in Kakamega town, in the Ambwere Complex building, second floor room six. The organization works with less privileged members of the community to reduce poverty through effective use of local resources.

Trainees were also informed of four important projects run by the organization:

- Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

- Gender and Governance

- Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security

- Micro-Finance

WASH Objectives

Participants are introduced to four objectives:

1. Increase and improve access to both safe and adequate drinking water

2. Improve access to sanitation facilities for target groups (such as children, women, or the elderly)

3. Improve both knowledge and attitudes about proper hygiene

4. Improve the sustainability of WASH activities

Workshop Objectives

The following were the training objectives:

1. Equip the community with relevant knowledge and skills concerning operation and maintenance of water sources

2. Enhance the capacity to effectively monitor and supervise water catchment systems and related educational activities in the village

3. Educate the community on income-generating and record-keeping skills related to water facilities

4. Develop management and leadership skills that equip the community to be more self-reliant

Committee Objectives

Members of the Water Sanitation Management Committee agree to carry out the following:

- Maintain and manage the spring

- Register the spring and recruit new members

- Draft a spring user constitution with regulations and penalties

- Enforce the constitution

- Monitor and evaluate spring operations

Water Pollution

Members brainstormed sources of contamination:

- Free animals grazing in proximity to the spring

- Children playing in and around the spring

- Drain blockage resulting in mosquito breeding grounds

- Soil erosion

- Latrines and outside defecation near the spring

After sources of contamination were discussed, the committee was able to agree on the following prevention methods:

1. Building fences to keep animals away from the spring

2. Educating children on the importance of protecting the spring

3. Managing spring drainage in a routine manner

4. Cutting back of riverside brush

5. Planting trees around the spring to control soil erosion

Water-borne and Water-related Diseases

The following water-borne and related diseases affect the committee’s community:

- Malaria, Typhoid, Dysentery, Bilharzias, Cholera

Prevention of Water-borne and Water-related Diseases

The participants agreed on the following control mechanisms to combat diseases attributed to water pollution:

- Washing hands and food before eating

- Serving food while fresh

- Treating water/boiling

- Giving immunizations and treatment

Funds Collection and Management

The committee agreed that funds are integral to protect and manage their spring. It costs money to repair, fence in, and register the spring. Members thought of a "merry-go-round" fund, when a different party collects funds every month. They also listed fund-raisers and donations as other income-generating possibilities.

Keeping Records

Recording information is important for the following reasons:

- Promotes transparency and accountability

- Creates a reference

- Helps enforce spring regulations

All participants will personally observe the following:

- Work progress

- Areas of needed improvement

- Activities in the area and their effects on the spring

- How people collect water

- Regulations infringement

After two days of training, Committee chairperson Madam Otemba responds, “Let us all transmit the knowledge gained in this workshop to other members of the community."

Community Health Workers Training

Community health workers training for Otwato spring was conducted on July 16-17, 2015.

Training participants totaled 17, including 10 men and seven women. Representation included community members, two government representatives and three WEWASAFO staff.

The training was aimed at equipping participants with skills to promote and practice good hygiene at the village and its spring. This method should reduce water-borne and related illnesses and diseases in the future.

Training methodology included a participatory approach, CLTS (Community Lead Total Sanitation) and group discussion.

CHW Training Objectives

1. To broadcast the message of good hygiene; its practices and benefits

2. To educate participants with new hygiene practices

3. To develop basic communication skills related to the topic

Practices that will help reduce Water and Food contamination

Participants agreed the following will help ensure health and decrease illness:

- Constructing sound latrines to discourage outside defecation

- Boiling water before drinking

- Washing and cooking all food thoroughly

- Washing hands at appropriate times (after every use of the latrine, after changing a child's diaper, and before handling food)

- Covering and storing foods well

- Digging compost pits for proper waste disposal

Role of Community Health Promoters

Participants owned their roles as good hygiene promoters. They will visit:

- The spring, public meetings, churches, health centers, and at least 10 homes

During these visits they will educate on having:

- Dish racks, compost pits, clothes lines, clean latrines, bathing rooms, methods to drain stagnant water, good nutrition and diet, family planning/immunization, kitchen gardens, HIV/AIDS awareness

Results of the Project:

Spring Protection

Protection of Otwato Spring is complete and in use by the community members.

The community members no longer waste a lot of time searching for safe drinking water. The time saved is now used for productive economic activities.

The community members around Otwato spring were so happy with the project that they urged Wewasafo to protect even more community springs!

Household Sanitation Platforms

Household sanitation platforms (cement slabs used in latrine construction) have been installed and community members are now using them. Users say they feel more comfortable using the slab floor because it is safe, easy to clean, and also easy to maintain. They added that there are other community members who are also in need of these slabs.


Project Updates

February, 2024: Project Change in Emusoli Community

Projects, like water itself, are fluid.

Sometimes, there are unique circumstances that can neither be resolved nor reversed that turn a well-loved water point into one that has failed to meet the expectations of both the community it serves and our own commitment to help provide access to safe and reliable water.

Unfortunately, Otwato Spring no longer meets the water needs of the Emusoli Community since it has been dry for over 12 months. Despite repeated efforts, spent resources, and a lot of patience from the community and our team, all attempts to revive the spring have been unsuccessful.

The Water Project, community members, and local leaders have decided together that decommissioning Otwato Spring is the best course of action. As a result, we will no longer make monitoring visits here.

July, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Emusoli Community, Otwato 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.

Reviewing prevention reminders chart

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 Emusoli, Kenya.

Handwashing session

We trained more than 19 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.


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.

Sample mask made at 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.

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.

Community Health Volunteer addresses the community

"Through this training, we have been equipped to prevent and fight Covid-19 effectively. We are very grateful," said spring landowner Mr. Otwato after training.

Everyone practices the 10 steps of handwashing

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.

Cough and sneeze into the elbow

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.

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!


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