Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 280 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jul 2019

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/04/2024

Project Features

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The sun was shining brightly on our early morning visit to Emukangu Community. The weather was very hot and the sky was crystal clear.

A group of three of us took a bus to Eshisiru Center, which took about 30 minutes. Things got much rougher after transferring to a motorbike. After 10 more minutes, we arrived at the very vegetated Emukangu Village.

People living here mainly practice farming. They grow sugarcane, various vegetables, and maize. Some of them breed livestock and poultry while others plant and sell millet and trees as wood.

The 217 people living here rely on Okhaso Spring for their water. The water source has green bacteria floating on the surface. The community members fixed a pipe to more easily fill their containers, but this is very dirty on the inside and is in bad condition. Water flows from the pipe too slowly because it wasn't placed properly.

People suffer from typhoid after drinking the dirty water from Okhaso Spring.

"Money is scarce and more often than not, I spend it to buy drugs to treat my children in case of diarrhea," shared Mr. Christopher Taifa.

A normal day starts as early as 6am. The woman of the household starts her day by going to the spring to fetch water for daily activities like drinking, cooking and cleaning. She then prepares breakfast for the family and ensures the children have gone to school. The father then goes to the farm. When the mother is through with house chores, she joins the father on the farm. They all break for lunch and return to the farm to finish the day's activities. During harvesting season, they take their products to the nearby market center for selling.

This community prides themselves with the phrase "power in unity." They come together in good and bad times. During community theft cases, they all come together to help resolve cases and help find a solution. On the day we arrived, community members and their village leaders were discussing a cow that was stolen the previous evening. The members also encourage good education among themselves in that they come together to celebrate occasions such as graduation ceremonies.

What we can do:


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

Less than 30% of families have their own private place to use the bathroom. These people either share a latrine with their neighbor or look for a place somewhere outside.

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

November, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Ivy Okhaso

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 Emukangu to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point, Okhaso 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 Ivy Okhaso shared her story of how the coronavirus is impacting her life and her community. Ivy is an 18-year-old student who, like so many others her age across Kenya, is unexpectedly at home due to national school closures.

Ivy with her mask on

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

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

"Before construction, the spring was dangerous, especially for the children. Water was not easily accessible, but now we trust that our children are safe when we send them to the spring."

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

"Water is essential to life and also during this time of the pandemic. At least we are close to clean water, thus handwashing and hygiene are of high priority to us."

Ivy washing her hands with soap and clean water from the spring using a leaky tin handwashing station

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 indeed. We now ensure that we avoid overcrowding at the spring, therefore the timing for fetching water has also changed. I personally prefer fetching water during the day when there are fewer people."

Ivy fetching water from Okhaso Spring while two younger children wait in line.

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

"Since the outbreak, my parents have not been earning as much money as before, so getting the necessary needs like sanitary pads has been a bit difficult because such things were freely provided in school."

Ivy with her mother outside their home

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

"I can not mingle with my friends freely. Furthermore, we have limited activities."

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

"Having the spring has helped us improvise handwashing stations because we have free-flowing water."

When asked where she receives information about COVID-19, Ivy listed the radio, television, newspaper, and non-governmental organization (NGO) trainings including our own team's sensitization training.

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

"The most helpful sensitization training received is how COVID-19 spreads and how to protect yourself."

July, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Emukangu Community, Okhaso 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.

Describing COVID-19 using Ministry of Health posters

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 Emukangu, Kenya.

Training on tippy tap handwashing station use

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.

Everyone practices the 10 steps of handwashing

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.

Mask tutorial

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.

Putting on a 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.

August, 2019: Emukangu Community, Okhaso Spring Complete!

Emukangu Community now has clean water! Okhaso 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 done on sanitation and hygiene.

Okhaso Spring

Spring Protection

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

Community member delivers bricks to the artisan

Kids deliver home-cooked meals to the artisan

The Process

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 thick plastic tarp, 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.

Helping mix cement

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.

Bricklaying begins

Cement work

The source area was filled up with clean stones and sand and covered with a plastic membrane to eliminate any potential sources of contamination. There were slight delays here and there in relation to the collection of sand and stones, which only affected the construction by a few hours in the day. Once the community mobilized more of each material, however, the challenges were not major and they were overcome which allowed the construction to be completed as scheduled.

Drying sanitation platform

It took about two weeks of patience for the concrete to dry. As soon as it was ready, people got the okay from our field officers to begin fetching clean water. We met them there to celebrate this momentous occasion.

Rose Khasungu, a businesswoman living in Emukangu, was very pleased with the project's completion.

"This spring is beautiful. The previous water source made us even fear collecting water from it," he said.

"Right now, one can even get tempted to drink up straight from the drawing pipe but we know better as per the training you have given us. Thank you for working with us to ensure that this project is a success."

Happy days

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.

Sanitation platform beneficiaries

New Knowledge

Christopher Taifa, a farmer in Emukangu and the now-Treasurer of the Okhaso Spring water user committee, was tasked with organizing the training. He gave us the community’s preferred date for training, for he was very much aware of the community calendar when it comes to planting season and other big events.

Treasurer Christopher Taifa

The attendance was slightly better than expected since we got to train 22 participants, which was more than the 20 members we requested. The participants' ages ranged from 2 years old to over 55 years old, which was very good since all the age groups had been represented.

Training begins

The weather was favorable as it was a sunny morning, which allowed us to sit under a tree just next to the spring. The participants were comfortable sitting on the green grass since it had not rained the previous day so the grass was dry. They sat close to each other which made photo-taking easy and neat.

Active participation

No challenges were faced during training since the members arrived in due time. They gave the instructors ample time to cover their topics through the end of the training sessions. One baby was crying but the mother gave it some milk and we were able to continue with the training.

Handwashing demonstration

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.

Handwashing practice

The women were seen to be more active during training since they gave the most examples and asked a lot of questions. Most of the men were elderly so they seemed to get tired after a few hours. The men were more of listeners while the women participated more.

Handwashing practice

During the family planning session, the participants were excited to learn more about the many different methods and their advantages. They were shocked to learn that different people react differently to different types of family planning methods and that they should consult a doctor for the best option. Some of the myths, like the one that says family planning causes barrenness, were demystified during the training.

We found the community to be well-informed of the chain of contamination, as they gave very many examples during this discussion. The participants were able to capture most of the things that we trained on, though we think they will need more training on-site management since they have so many roads leading to the spring, which means many people coming for water whom we did not get the chance to speak to.

The community was advised to choose one path that is easily accessible, and they promised to use only one terrain for every member who uses the spring. The rest of the footpaths that were passing through people's farms were disqualified.

Mr. Easton Akaliche

Easton Akaliche, a farmer who attended the training who is the landowner of the spring area and Chair of the water user committee, shared his thoughts on how it will impact his life.

"This spring is serving very many households in this community, and the number [of households] goes up during the dry season since this spring is not seasonal [and others nearby are]," he said.

"Helping us understand how to maintain and manage the spring so that it may continue serving more members for the longest time possible [is helpful]."

Thumbs up for running water

Okhaso Spring users were very happy with the project and could not stop thanking our team for the great job done. Despite some small challenges during construction, the community members were very collaborative with both the artisan and the field officer from start to finish. Since our first visit to Emukangu, the population using Okhaso Spring has increased by about 60 more people.

The dry season has majorly influenced the population increase since most of the seasonal springs in the area had dried up, forcing more users to collect water from Okhaso Spring. Mr. Easton Akaliche, the landowner of where Okhaso Spring is located, thanked everyone who participated in the project and promised the right to anyone to use the spring any time they need water.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

June, 2019: Emukangu Community, Okhaso Spring Project Underway

Dirty water from Okhaso Spring is making people in Emukangu Community sick. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to solve this issue by building 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 again with news of success!

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: Emukangu Community, Okhaso Spring

February, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Emukangu 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!

"Before the project was completed, getting water here was a real hustle."

"One, the water was not clean because of the way we used to fetch it. Two, we used to suffer a lot of struggling just to get water. This is because there was a lot of overcrowding and struggle. For me as a child, this scared me because sometimes people could even fight."

"Three, there was a lot of time-wasting; one needed to spend a lot of time at the water point before getting water. This sometimes brought me problems at home because I could end up not doing all the chores my parents left, and this annoyed them when they returned home only to find that work was not done as planned."

"Right now, getting water from this water point has become so much easier. I love going to fetch water every time. This is because I am sure of getting clean water. Also, there is no more struggling at the spring because the time one needs to put his or her container under the discharge pipe has made everything easier, so nowadays I hardly get people struggling at this water point with no more time-wasting."

"This has impacted my life positively because I can do all the planned work on time since a lot of work that my parents normally leave me to help with involves using water, such as cleaning the house, giving water to the livestock, etc."

"Another way that this has impacted my life is that we now live as good neighbors. No more fights and quarrelling that used to happen at this water point."

"This water point has helped me to be more responsible because, since its implementation, I have no reason of delaying to do my work. Another way that this water point has also helped me is that I am able to accomplish my tasks and also get some time to play and socialize with my friends, then, later on, embark on my studies."

"My health and that of my family has really improved; no more waterborne diseases like typhoid that we used to suffer from and spend more time and money at the hospital seeking medication."

"Indeed, water is life."

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 Emukangu 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 Emukangu 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.