Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 256 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 09/05/2023

Project Features

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Community Profile

The people of Esembe Village are mainly farmers, although they do it on a small scale. Those who have the largest farms are mostly sugarcane farmers. Their crops are easily sold to local sugar factories.

Each day begins early at 6am in a rush to get things done before the afternoon heat. Women are usually involved in household-based activities such as cleaning and taking care of children.

But they also do a ton of work on the farm, too! They are often the people seen on the farms during the day; few men there.

A majority of the men head into town in search of other casual jobs (mainly construction work). The day usually ends around 7pm when the darkness begins setting in and everyone prefers being home. Dinner is served early, and the children do a few school assignments by candlelight. Everyone is in bed around 9pm.

Water Situation

Chera Spring serves several families living around Esembe. It is an open water source that is subjected to all kinds of contamination. Community members prefer not to use the water here and fear drinking it. They keep the largest possible open containers they can afford outside their homes to collect rain. But when it doesn't rain, there is no other option but to scoop water from Chera Spring.

If a family can't afford a large container for collecting rainwater, they solely rely on spring water. Many can't afford firewood for boiling the water to make it safer for drinking, either.

36-year-old Gladys Chera told us, "Since I was a small child, we grew up understanding that some of the diseases we now know as cholera and typhoid would only affect people as a result of witchcraft. At the moment we have an unclear understanding of the causes... our water is not clean but we have no alternatives so we just use what is there. The children get so sick, especially during rainy seasons. We therefore need some help!"

Sanitation Situation

The latrines here are either thatched with mud, made of old iron sheets, or, if a family is well-off, bricks. The floors are either made of mud or wooden slats lain over the pit. Not all households even have a pit latrine. And if they have one, children run around and relieve themselves as they please.

There are no hand-washing stations, but we noticed that people have put in an effort; each household has at least one type of sanitation structure whether it be a pit latrine, dish rack, or clothesline.

Here's what we're going to do about it

Hygiene and Sanitation Training

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. One of the most important topics we plan to cover is the handling, storage, and treatment of water. Having a clean water source will be extremely helpful, but it is useless if water gets contaminated by the time it’s consumed. Hand-washing will also be a big topic. Since open defecation was encountered here, this is at the top of our list of things to address. Waste always needs to be disposed of properly, or else it will be spread by flies or rainwater.

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.

Sanitation Platforms

On the final day of training, participants will select five families that should benefit from new latrine floors.

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.

Spring Protection

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.

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 female community members by giving them more time and efforts to engage and invest in income-generating activities.

Project Updates

July, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Esembe Community, Chera 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.

Social distance check with Trainer Shigali

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 Esembe, Kenya.

We trained more than 14 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.

Constructing a tippy tap handwashing station

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 exercise

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.

This is how you use a tippy tap

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.

Elder addressing the group

The village elder encouraged his people to go and pass on the knowledge to other people in the whole village and also practice what they had been taught. He said that whatever they had learned in that training was not only going to protect them from Coronavirus but if practiced as taught it was going to protect community members from other diseases.

Homemade face mask tutorial

He gave an example of washing hands properly that protects people from diseases like cholera and typhoid, and observing social distancing is also a good way of preventing the spread of flu, coughs, and diseases like tuberculosis. Finally, he said that wearing face masks is also helpful in preventing other airborne diseases such as tuberculosis and asthma attacks for those who are asthmatic when exposed to a dusty environment.

The prevention reminders chart installed at the spring

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.

A complete mask made at training

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.

July, 2019: Giving Update: Esembe Community, Chera Spring

A year ago, your generous donation enabled us to protect Chera Spring for Esembe Community in Kenya. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow our local 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…

May, 2018: Esembe Community Project Complete

Esembe Community now has clean water! Chera Spring has been transformed into a flowing source of clean water thanks to your donation. The spring is protected from contamination, five sanitation platforms have been provided for the community, and training has been given in sanitation and hygiene.

Knowledge is Power

Our contact person in Esembe, Mr. Elisha Mwalo, recruited people to attend hygiene and sanitation training. He let everyone know how important it is that at least one representative from each household attends. That way, that person can return to their families to teach them everything they missed.

Attendance was more than what we anticipated because almost all the people in Esembe Village and the great region had started preparing their farms for planting. We assumed that getting people to take us up on the training invitation would be a problem, but we were proved wrong when we found 20 participants there waiting for us.

As is the tradition in this area, men and women sat separately from each other. However, they were both equally involved in listening to our trainer, discussing issues, and participating in demonstrations.

Some men took time off of their farms and away from their jobs to listen in on training.

We covered several topics including leadership and governance; operation and maintenance of the spring; healthcare; family planning; immunizations; the spread of disease and prevention. We also covered water treatment methods, personal care like handwashing, environmental hygiene, hygiene promotion, and many other things.

Mrs. Cecil Ogola is a retired teacher who now spends the majority of time growing things in her garden. Though she's already 68, she admitted she still learned a ton of new things.

"I have learned a number of things I confess I previously had no idea on, especially on issues revolving around proper handwashing, primary health care principles and also on issues of operation and maintenance of the spring site. I will be able to share this with my family in the evening," she said.

"These topics will help us improve sanitation conditions at home, as whatever we will be eating will be clean, and the children will be safer, especially from worm infections and water-related infections. This will, in the long run, save us a lot of the little earnings we make here and there on a daily basis."

Sanitation Platforms

All five sanitation platforms have been installed. These five families are happy about this milestone of having a private latrine of their own and are optimistic that people will no longer leave waste outdoors. We are continuing to encourage families to finish building walls and roofs over their new latrine floors.

These latrine floors are worlds safer to use and much easier to clean than the rickety, dangerous wood floors of most latrines.

Spring Protection

Community members provided all locally available construction materials, e.g bricks, wheelbarrows of clean sand, wheelbarrows of ballast, fencing poles and gravel. Accommodations and meals were provided for the artisan, too.

Men helping the artisan by mixing concrete.

Men and women lent their strength to the artisan to help him with manual labor. The spring area was excavated to create space for setting the foundation of polyethylene, wire mesh and concrete. After the base had been set, both wing walls and the headwall were set in place using brickwork. The discharge pipe was fixed low in place through the headwall to direct the water from the reservoir to the drawing area.

Working on the foundation

As the wing walls and headwall were curing, the stairs were set and ceramic tiles were fixed directly below the discharge pipe. This protects the concrete from the erosive force of the falling water and beautifies the spring. The process of plastering the headwall and wing walls on both sides reinforces the brickwork and prevents water from the reservoir from seeping through the walls and allows pressure to build in the collection box to push water up through the discharge pipe.

The source area was filled up with clean hardcore and covered with a polyethylene membrane to eliminate any potential sources of contamination. It took about two weeks of patience for the concrete to dry.

People living in this part of Esembe had never had any individual or institution engage them in any sort of development initiative - nobody from the local clinics had even visited. This was the first time anyone had ever intervened.

Mr. Elisha Mwalo testified that they had been relying on dirty water from Chera Spring ever since he was born. He and the people here suffered for over 50 years, experiencing problems they could hardly solve themselves, nor did they know of a solution. They are extremely grateful for this life-changing, life-giving project.

We were honored to meet community members at their new clean water source to celebrate!

March, 2018: Esembe Community Project Underway

Dirty water from Chera Spring is making people in Esembe Community sick. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know your community through the narrative and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with more good news!

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.

Giving Update: Esembe Community, Chera Spring

July, 2019

A year ago, you funded a spring protection at Esembe Community in Kenya – creating a life-changing moment for Linet Ababu. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Esembe Community, Chera 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!

Since the implementation of Chera Spring's protection a little over a year ago, on a recent field visit we saw how this project has brought about major improvements in the community in terms of proper hygiene and sanitation standards.

These changes include how, first and foremost, Esembe Community is now able to access clean, safe water for their own use. This starkly contrasts with their situation before spring protection, when their water was constantly exposed to contaminants. Cases of waterborne diseases are now a thing of the past as now the community is able to maintain proper hygiene and sanitation standards.

Accessibility to Chera Spring is much easier and faster than it used to be, as there are now stairs installed to easily direct people to the water source. Currently, a majority of spring users are also now engaged in income-generating activities. These were inspired after our training in Esembe last year, and community members' work has helped solve cases of unemployment.

Mr. Elisha Mwalo, Chair of the Chera Spring Water User Committe

Chair of the Chera Spring water committee, Mr. Elisha Mwalo, shared with us how these changes have impacted his village over the last year.

"As a community, we appreciate [you] for the wonderful project implemented in our land. As of today, we are enjoying availability of clean, safe water courtesy of [you], who took a bold step [in] protecting our spring," Elisha said.

"We also enjoy good sanitation facilities, especially [community] members who had a privilege of benefiting from the [sanitation platforms]. Their toilets are well maintained [and] up to standard as advised during the hygiene and sanitation training. Accessibility of the spring is much [mpre] convenient as there are stairs installed which direct one to the water point, compared to years back where our community members had challenges accessing [water], especially the [elderly]."

"Time wastage is now a thing of the past as community members accessing the spring are now able to fetch water within a short period of time thanks to the installation of the discharge pipe."

16-year-old Linet Ababu was also happy to share with us how this spring and the sanitatoin projects have improved her life and the life of her neighbors.

Linet fetches water

"The standard of hygiene in our community has really improved due to clean and safe water for consumption," Linet said.

"Community members no longer suffer from water-related diseases like in the past when it was rampant. The economic levels have improved as currently, a majority [of people] are involved in income-generating activities."

"Accessing the spring, especially during the night, was [once] a big challenge due to the [prominence] of snakes and tortoises as this was their breeding site, and this put community members' lives at risk. But, thank God, [the danger] is now a thing of the past as the surrounding [area] is safe after spring protection."

Elisha, Linet, Victor

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 Esembe Community, Chera 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 Esembe Community, Chera 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.


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