Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 214 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2019

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/10/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

Ateka Spring is located in Emaka Village of Kakamega County.

The community depends on subsistence farming. The women often are the ones who work on the farms each day. They plant crops such as sugarcane, maize, potatoes, vegetables. Some will plant small-scale cash crops, like tea.

The men in the community are motorcycle riders, watchmen, or car drivers. Most of them are rarely found at home because they usually leave the house in the wee hours of the morning and return at night.


An Emaka village elder attended one of our trainings in the village and was very impressed with our work. After the training, she took us to her unprotected spring and asked us to vet it for protection.

Ateka Spring serves an estimated population of 214 people. The spring is the only reliable source of water in the community. During the dry seasons, large crowds of people gather at the spring and have to wait for hours to get water. The activity causes the water to turn turbid after a few scoops forcing people to wait for it to clear up.

The people draw water using jugs and pour them into 20-liter containers then lift it onto their heads to transport it to their homesteads. The water is stored in containers like pots and drums which are covered.

Since the spring is unprotected, it is open to contamination from surface runoff, people stepping into the spring as they fetch water, and the animals that drink from it. During the rainy seasons, surface runoff drains nutrients and chemicals from the nearby farms into the spring and this promotes algal bloom. The water turns green and must be drained frequently. This causes time wastage at the spring.

The community members report that they suffer from many cases of waterborne diseases like coughs, malaria, typhoid, diarrhea, and stomachaches as a result of drinking water from this unprotected spring.

Protecting this source will help reduce congestion at the spring and improve community health.


Sanitation is also a big problem - fewer than half of the households in the community do not have latrines. Most of the latrines that exist are made of mud floors and the superstructure is made of mud and iron sheets.

Some households throw trash on the farms, while others bury it in pits to compost and use later as farm manure.

The community requires training on good hygiene and sanitation practices so that they can live in a clean environment and maintain cleanliness of the spring.

Here’s what we’re going to do about it:


Community members will attend hygiene and sanitation training for at least two days. This training will ensure participants have the knowledge they need 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. Handwashing will also be a big topic.

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. The fence will keep out destructive animals, and the drainage will keep the area’s mosquito population at a minimum.

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 chosen for sanitation platforms 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. With the community’s high involvement in the process, there should be a good sense of responsibility and ownership for the new clean water source.

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

Project Updates

June, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Emaka Community, Ateka 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.

A woman shows her informational pamphlet on COVID-19

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 Emaka, Kenya.

We trained more than 12 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.

Handwashing lesson with Trainer Erick

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.

The boy followed Erick's lead in handwashing steps

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.

Making a leaky tin

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.

Installing the prevention reminders chart 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.

Trainer Mary Afandi leading the session

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.

October, 2019: Giving Update: Emaka Community, Ateka Spring

A year ago, your generous donation helped Emaka Community in Kenya access clean water.

There’s an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water at Ateka Spring in Emaka. Month after month, their giving supports ongoing sustainability programs that help this community maintain access to safe, reliable water. Read more…

February, 2019: Emaka Community, Ateka Spring Project Complete

Emaka Community is celebrating their new protected spring, so celebrate with them! Ateka Spring has been transformed into a flowing, safe source of water thanks to your donation. The spring is protected from contamination, five sanitation platforms have been provided for the community, and training has been done on sanitation and hygiene.

Spring Protection

Construction at Ateka Spring was successful and water is now flowing from the discharge pipe.

"You have really done a great job for this community. I do not have anything to give you that would be equal to the change that you have brought to us," said Mrs. Atuka.

"I will no longer have to walk a long distance to fetch [clean] water. Thank you very much."

The Process:

Community members provided all locally available construction materials, e.g bricks, wheelbarrows of clean sand, wheelbarrows of ballast, and gravel. Community members also hosted our artisans for the duration of construction.

The spring area was excavated with jembes, hoes, and spades to create space for setting the foundation of polyethylene, wire mesh, and concrete.

Diverting spring water away from the construction site

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.

As the wing walls and headwall cured, 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 stones and sand and covered with a polyethylene membrane to eliminate any potential sources of contamination.

The concrete dried over the course of five days. People have already built a fence around the area to protect it from playing children and wild animals. With this spring now handed over to the community, we will continue to follow up with the water committee to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Sanitation Platforms

All five sanitation platforms have been installed and make wonderful, easy to clean latrine floors. These five families are happy about this milestone of having a latrine of their own. We are continuing to encourage families to finish building walls and roofs over their new latrine floors.

New Knowledge

We planned for hygiene and sanitation training with the help of Mary Atuka, a village elder. She forewarned us that it would be a challenge to recruit participants because most community members are engaged as casual laborers at a big construction site.

We were happy to find that some of the community women and one man could attend. In order to increase hygiene and sanitation knowledge among more people in this community, the trainer plans to continue visiting homes and teaching new concepts during each quarterly monitoring visit.

All of the people were very active and alert during the training. They could hardly wait for the questions and answers session to seek clarification on the topics that they did not understand too well.

Several topics were covered during the training, such as personal and environmental hygiene, common local diseases and their prevention, and care of the water point. The ten steps of handwashing were demonstrated, along with demonstrations for dental hygiene and water treatment.

Demonstrating the steps of thorough handwashing

When the facilitator was giving a lecture on water handling and treatment, she spotted a few yellow jerrycans at the nearby home and took one of them as an example. The jerrycans were very dirty and did not have lids on them.

"This training will really help us in our daily activities because we now have increased awareness on poor hygiene practices that lead to common ailments. We will exercise these newly acquired hygiene practices for behavior change," said Mrs. Dorcas.

January, 2019: Emaka Community Project Underway

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

Get to know this 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. Learn more here!

Giving Update: Emaka Community, Ateka Spring

October, 2019

A year ago, your generous donation helped Emaka Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Mary Abdi Atuka. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Emaka Community 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!

Due to the protection of Ateka Spring last year, the general welfare and wellbeing of all community members have improved, reported Field Officer Joan Were after her recent visit to Emaka.

Joan explained that because Emaka community members no longer have to walk long distances to access clean water for domestic use, they have more time to relax in the evening. This has helped to reduce stress levels and fatigue within the community, which have an adverse effect on health.

Village Elder and Chair of the water committee Mary Abdi Atuka met Joan at the spring and reflected on the impacts this project has had on her community in the first year since its completion.

"Immediately after the spring was protected, we witnessed a large number of community members coming to fetch water because it's the only spring in the area with a moderate discharge. During the dry seasons, most hand-dug wells dry up and this spring remains the only source of clean water in the Emaka B area. We are very happy with the project," Mary said.

Field Officer Joan Were with Mary at the spring

15-year-old Mathew Oketch has also felt a difference after the spring protection, explaining the impact it has had on his life as a student in his community.

"Since last year, I have been able to finish my homework on time and also find time to play with my friends after school because I do not spend much time looking for water in the evening...With the spring being near, I no longer [arrive] late to school because I can easily access the water for bathing in the morning. The protected spring has eliminated the lateness challenge that I had."

Mathew Oketch at the spring

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 Emaka Community 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 Emaka Community – 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.


St. Therese Foundation