Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 210 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/04/2024

Project Features

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Weku Spring is located in Ematetie Village of Kakamega County.

The people from Ematetie Village wake up very early in the morning to work on their farms and prepare their children to go to school. The community members living around the spring keep dairy cattle and grow crops including maize, groundnuts, bananas, and vegetables. Most of the women take the vegetables to market in the evening, when still fresh, for selling.

Some members of the community are involved in brick making to earn extra income. There are many construction projects going on in the area, thus there is a ready market for bricks.

The community is special because, through these economic activities, the people are able to educate their children and provide for their family needs.


People collect water from Weku Spring by using small plastic containers which they pour into 20-liter plastic jerricans and carry the filled containers to the respective home. That water is then stored in bigger clay pots and containers with a capacity of 50 to 100 liters.

Some store the water in the same containers they collected the water with from the unprotected spring.

After conducting a baseline survey at Ematietie Primary School and having introduced ourselves as working for WEWASAFO, one member of the school informed me that there was an unprotected spring in the neighborhood that could be protected if it met the requirements.

The unprotected spring has a large discharge of water and does not dry up in the dry season. It has been in a deplorable condition with no maintenance on it for many years.

Most of the community members have suffered from water-borne diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid, and stomachaches.

After the protection is over, the spring will get a major facelift. It will make a positive impact on the local community through the provision of clean and safe water and general sanitation.


Fewer than half of the households in the village have latrines. Most of the latrines that exist are made of wooden floors with superstructures made of banana leaves, polythene papers, mud, and iron sheets.

It is projected that the other members of the community who will not directly benefit from the sanitation platform will take the initiative to improve their toilets or put up entirely new ones.

"The sanitation facilities and health promotion campaign through trainings will enable, enlighten and capacity build the community to take matters related to community health as a priority," Mr. Dickson Weku said.

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.

This project is a part of our shared program with Western Water And Sanitation Forum (WEWASAFO). Our team is pleased to provide the reports for this project (edited for readability) thanks to the hard work of our friends in Kenya.

Project Updates

October, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Doris Shitsuli

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.

Our team recently visited Ematetie to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point, Weku Spring. 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 Doris Shitsuli, a 45-year-old mother and farmer, shared her story of how the coronavirus is impacting her life and her community.

Doris Shitsuli outside her home

Field Officer Rose Serete met Doris outside her home to conduct the interview. Both Rose and Doris observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Doris' story, in her own words.

What is one thing that has changed in your community since the completion of the water project?

"The one thing that has changed is that in our community we are free from waterborne diseases. The money that was spent on medication is now used to do other development projects."

Doris fetching water from Weku Spring

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

"We are able to fight this pandemic because we have clean water throughout. Therefore we have improvised several handwashing stations within our compounds. Since water is not a problem, we wash our hands regularly to ensure that we are safe."

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. There should be no overcrowding at the spring, this is because of regulations put in place by the World Health Organization. Community members need to observe social distance and put on masks every time they are not at home."

Doris' daughter and two boys from the community observing physical distancing at the spring

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

"There have been financial hardships due to the increased cost of living. Most businesses have closed making the few available ones increase the prices of their items. This affects us mostly in the food sector."

"The social life of my children has been affected, especially for the teenagers, due to idleness. Most of them have preferred to stay in their rooms because they are not able to visit their friends or relatives."

Doris with her kids at home

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

"As a family we are forced to change our meal program. Initially, we used to have three meals a day but with this situation at hand, our meals have reduced to two: we only have breakfast and dinner. As a parent, it's not easy, but I have nothing I can do."

Doris weeds her maize farm

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

"We had a training with your team and that knowledge has been vital to us. Every family has improvised a handwashing station within their compound and there is water always. To add on that, we are able to make our own masks, thus no money is spent to buy a mask. We also ensure that we observe social distance when in any gathering."

Doris in her mask

Like most governments around the world, the Kenyan government continues to set and adjust restrictions both nationally and regionally to help control the spread of the virus.

What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?

"School reopening. Students and pupils who were to do their examinations this year - that is Form Four , Class Eight, and Grade Four - are now allowed to go back to school."

What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?

"The government allowing all education [levels] to be opened."

When asked where she receives information about COVID-19, Doris listed the radio and our team's sensitization training.

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

"As for me, the most helpful part of the COVID-19 sensitization training I received from your team was how to make masks. I am able to make a mask for all my family members and even teach those who didn't attend the training."

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Ematetie Community, Weku 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.

Observing social distancing with all eyes on the trainer

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 Ematetie, Kenya.

We trained more than 15 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.

Trainer Rose leads the handwashing exercise

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 demonstration

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.

Reviewing prevention reminder chart

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.

Building a stand for the chart to install it 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 Community Health Volunteer addresses the group

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: Ematetie Community, Weku Spring

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

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

October, 2018: Ematetie Community Project Complete

Ematetie Community is celebrating their new protected spring, so celebrate with them! Weku Spring has been transformed into a flowing 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

Ematetie Community is so happy because they have clean and sufficient water. Women expressed their gratitude for the spring protection and the knowledge shared during training, saying that they were in the darkness but now they are in the light. They are excited to share that light with other women.

Men agree that their homes will improve because their wives are now using clean water. Children are excited to bring their neighbors and friends to see what has happened at their spring. The community is so happy and plans to refer us to other communities that should benefit from the same program.

Construction Process:

Community members provided all locally available construction materials, e.g bricks, wheelbarrows of clean sand, wheelbarrows of ballast, fencing poles and gravel. One of the vehicles the community hired to transport bricks to our artisan broke down. Since it wasn't fiscally responsible to hire an entirely new vehicle, we all had to be patient as the original vehicle was repaired. Community members also hosted our artisans for the duration of construction.

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.

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.

Filling in the area from the spring eye to the discharge pipe.

The concrete dried over the course of two weeks. With this spring now handed over to the community, we will continue to follow up with the water user committee to make sure everything runs smoothly.

"Since I got married into this community, I have never seen great people like you. We have been struggling to follow our leaders, trusting them to help us but it was in vain," admitted Linet Weku.

"Now we have a wonderful spring and we thank you so much."

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 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.

New Knowledge

We started talking to community members about the importance of training as we supervised spring construction. We worked with Dickson Weku to make sure everyone who uses Weku Spring was notified of the training schedule.

It was a cool afternoon when we met 20 community members for the first session. This was an active class, with all the participants giving their opinions on everything. The children were also actively involved, though not as opinionated as the adults.

We covered several topics including but not limited to leadership and governance (participants started a water and sanitation committee); 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, and hygiene promotion. These participants will become ambassadors of healthy living among their own families and their greater community.

This brave girl demonstrates handwashing to all of the adults.

Participants really liked forming and planning for the committee. They elected officials and we educated them on the responsibilities of each member. Instead of us listing off ways this committee could protect and care for their spring, they had tons of ideas themselves. They also didn't need any help forming rules for spring users, either.

It looks like we'll have a strong "spring enforcement team" here!

We were impressed with how much the community already knows about income-generating activities. This was a topic for which we felt like we were just adding spice to already cooked food. Someone came up with the idea of using the spring drainage water for a fish pond, and everyone immediately jumped on board.

This community will easily adopt all of the new information we shared. They knew hygiene and sanitation basics and were eager to learn about improvements they could integrate into their daily habits.

Pens and notebooks were handed out so people could note the new details they learned.

"We all have been taught today. Some of these things we knew, but we have gathered a few others we had not previously known," Givan Weku said on behalf of Ematetie Community.

"Thank you for having come to teach us, and we hope that we will be able to improve on our previous methods and change our lives for the better."

August, 2018: Ematetie Community Project Underway

Dirty water from Weku Spring is making people in Ematetie 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 Videos

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: Ematetie Community, Weku Spring

October, 2019

A year ago, your generous donation helped Ematetie Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Doris Shitsuli. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Ematetie 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!

Field Officer Rose Serete shared the following reflection after her most recent visit to Weku Spring in Ematetie, where she went to check up on the spring and interview community members about their thoughts on the project a year since its completion.

"Since the implementation of the project, cases of water-borne diseases have really reduced," Rose said.

"The community members now spend less money on medication. The project has enabled them to have clean and safe water for drinking. Water access is also easy because the staircases provided makes it easy and convenient for both the young and old. The area around the spring is also clear and [there is] no fear of snakes since one can go to the spring even at night."

Doris Shitsuli depends on Weku Spring for her daily water needs and shared her thoughts with Rose on the impact the spring protection has had on her life.

"We have safe and clean water for drinking, [and] the training has ensured that our compound stays tidy at all moments. The training has also helped us enhance our hygiene levels and practices. We are always free from diseases and hence [require] less expenditure on treatment. We can now save money and purchase other basic needs and do other activities," Doris explained.

Melvin Achitsa smiles at Weku Spring

13-year-old Melvin Achitsa was also with Field Officer Rose at the spring and reflected on how the WaSH projects in her village have changed her experience as a young person and student in her community.

"Life has improved since we can now access latrines compared to the time before when we could not afford them and cases of disease infection were prone," she said.

"Time wastage on the spring has also been solved and we can now collect water in a short duration of time. I have enough time to do personal studies and also household chores."

Doris and Melvin give thumbs up for clean water

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 Ematetie 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 Ematetie 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.


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