Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 140 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2019

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 08/07/2023

Project Features

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Emukoyani Community is in a rural area where everyone goes about their own daily activities. The vegetation is green because they grow maize, sugarcane, and arrowroot. Most homes are made of mud and roofed with either thatched grass or iron sheets.

An average person in Emukoyani wakes up around 6am so that children can get to school on time. Men go out to milk the cows while women prepare breakfast. People work on their farms throughout their day but must return home to prepare lunch for their children since lunch is not served at school. Lunchtime is also for fetching water and collecting firewood. They go to the market to get what they need to prepare supper, eat, relax, and retire by 8pm since there isn't any electricity.

Nobody has the water at home. Instead, community members depend on Ombalasi Spring to get water for everything they do throughout the day, including drinking. Ombalasi Spring is located right off the road that leads into the community.

The water here is unsafe for drinking but there's no other option. People get sick with cholera and typhoid and spend what little money they have on treatment.

"It has been my prayer that we use protected water. We have been using this water like this for a long time and we ask that you help us get protected water," said Bornface.

What we can do:

Less than half of households have their own pit latrines. That means there are multiple families sharing one latrine. If it is an awkward time during the night, those sharing latrines feel less comfortable doing so and often resort to using the bushes.

Most of the latrines we saw have wood slats for floors which are very hard to clean. They rot as they get wet and endanger the users.

People here have tried observing good hygiene because the majority have dish racks and clotheslines for keeping their belongings clean. But when it comes to handwashing, they need to improve because of the lack of water near latrines means they do not wash their hands after visiting the toilet. They also need to start disposing of garbage properly instead of piling it up at the back of their properties.


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.

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

"The latrines are a problem in this place," said Mrs. Rose Aiti.

"We would like to have the cement floor latrines because the children are afraid of using the wooden floor latrines."

On the final day of training, participants will select five families that should most 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

July, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Nickson Sakwa Shivuka

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.

Nickson Sakwa Shivuka is 40 years old and lives in Emukoyani where he depends on Ombalasi Spring for his family's water needs.

Nickson Sakwa Shivuka fetches water from Ombalasi Spring in his home of Emukoyani.

Our team recently visited Emukoyani to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point. 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 Nickson shared his story of how the coronavirus has impacted his life.

Nickson stands at the entrance to his homestead to greet Protus.

Area Program Coordinator Protus Ekesa met Nickson outside his home to conduct the interview. Both Protus and Nickson observed social distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety.

"Mr. Sakwa, being an environmental researcher, is currently at home without work since the outbreak of this COVID-19 pandemic. Life has become hard for him since footing his bills has become a challenge," reflected Protus after the interview.

Nickson stands for a portrait outside his home.

"Yet, Mr. Sakwa is so encouraged because he has observed the community members adhering to the directives given by the Ministry of Health. He is so hopeful that soon things will come to normal."

The following is Nickson's story, in his own words.

Nickson shared his appreciation for our team's visit during the first COVID-19 sensitization training we held in his village earlier this year.

"The time we used to fetch water has drastically reduced since the protection of Ombalasi Spring. We no longer need to wait for the water to settle down before the next person fetches as it used to be. We now have access to quality water. The water is now clean and also safe.

The protected spring has helped me during the pandemic in the washing of hands, as it requires clean water and soap. This has helped me in an economic aspect since I do not need to buy water for use. The children are at home and they use a lot of water; if I had no access to this clean water, I would have been forced to be purchasing it which is so costly.

People maintain some distance while waiting in line at the spring to fetch water.

Fetching water during the pandemic has changed in the following ways. I am now forced to wash my hands before fetching water. I am not supposed to touch the pipe. I am forced to keep social distance at the spring. This is unlike in the past where I would just fetch water without observing all these restrictions.

Nickson and his family outside their home.

COVID-19 has impacted my family negatively since the education system collapsed, so children are home. On a normal day with no COVID-19 , the children would have been free to move, visit their relations, but this is not possible since the outbreak of the disease. Children are not able to mingle with others due to the fear of this particular outbreak. It's very difficult to identify the children's talents when they are not mingling with others.

Nickson enjoying a light moment with his 2 sons.

My social life has been affected too. I am not free to visit my relations or have my relations to come visiting because of the fear of the pandemic.

My job has been affected and I am not working at the moment as I used to do my research mostly in institutions of higher learning. Wearing the mask has become a challenge for me since it's something that has just come up and I am not feeling comfortable with it."

Nickson checks on his kitchen garden grown with water from Ombalasi Spring.

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

"We are wearing face masks, handwashing with soap, social distancing, and reducing social visits and social gatherings."

Nickson puts on his face mask.

When asked where he receives information about COVID-19, Nickson listed the radio, television, newspaper, word of mouth, other non-governmental organization's (NGO) training, and our team's sensitization training.

Nickson scrubs his hands with soap then rinses them off using a leaky tin handwashing station he made at home and filled with water from Ombalasi Spring.

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

"The information on washing hands with clean running water and soap, installation of a handwashing station at the water point, weearing and making of face masks, and keeping social and physical distance."

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Emukoyani Community, Ombalasi 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.

Staff demonstrate social distancing and wearing masks at training

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 Emukoyani, Kenya.

Team Leader Emmah heads training

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.

A man sharing his thanks for the team's visit to share information about COVID-19

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.

Trainer Protus installs the new leaky tin at the spring

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.

Trainer Protus demonstrates handwashing

During training, we installed a new handwashing station with soap near the community’s water point. 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.

A little girl demonstrates 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.


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.

May, 2019: Emukoyani Community, Ombalasi Spring Project Complete

Emukoyani Community is celebrating its new protected spring, so celebrate with them! Ombalasi 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 Ombalasi Spring was successful and water is now flowing from the discharge pipe.

"We are going to use this water for drinking and also start up a fish pond downstream. The money gotten from the fish pond can be used to maintain the spring," said Mr. Andala.

"This water will reduce the distance of looking for drinking water across the road."

Water from Ombalasi Spring was dirty before this spring protection, and community members would often come down with waterborne illnesses.

"Thank you so much for protecting this spring for us. We suffered a lot due to drawing water from the unprotected spring, but we will now have safe and clean drinking water," said Rose, a water user.

The community is located near the busy Shikoti-Kakamega Road, and people would often cross this road in search of clean drinking water. But since Ombalasi Spring has been protected, the community can stay on the right side of the road and use Ombalasi Spring to meet all of their water needs.

The village elder in this community happens to be what the others consider an "old mama," meaning she is 56 years of age and very sharp. She promised to ensure she solves any conflicts that may arise concerning water and that everyone follows the rules for fetching water at Ombalasi Spring.

The Process:

Community members provided all locally available construction materials, e.g bricks, clean sand, wheelbarrows of ballast, and gravel. Some even made extra efforts to work alongside the artisan after delivering all of the materials. 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.

Community members came to the site and helped the artisan excavate the area in preparation of spring protection construction

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.

The ceramic tiles installed under the discharge pipe protect the concrete from the erosive force of the falling water and beautify 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.

Finishing up a coat of plaster over the brick walls and foundation of the spring

The concrete dried over the course of five days, during which a community member wetted the concrete to make sure it would dry without cracking. The source area was filled up with clean stones and sand and covered with a polyethylene membrane to eliminate any potential sources of contamination.

After the backfilling was done at the reservoir area, the community members were already waiting and ready with poles and nails to help the artisan fence in the area.

A fence that marks off the protected area from the spring eye to the discharge pipe

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 will continue to encourage them to finish building walls and roofs over their new latrine floors as we visit for monitoring and evaluation.

A proud community member stands by her new sanitation platform as it finished drying

New Knowledge

We informed our contact person, Bornface, of the importance of hygiene and sanitation training. We came to an agreement on the most convenient date for the community, and then Bornface went door to door to invite everyone he knows who uses Ombalasi Spring.

We met at a home near the spring and were happy to find some tree shade to shield us from the hot sun. All of the participants were eager to learn. They participated by asking a lot of questions about every topic.

Participants learned about:

– Leadership and governance for the spring committee
– Management and maintenance of the spring

– Family planning
– Environmental hygiene
– Personal hygiene, including handwashing

The participants were eager to know where they go wrong when it comes to personal hygiene. The instructor took them through personal hygiene, how to handle food, how to keep their surroundings clean, and many other things.

The trainer taught participants how to build a tippy tap handwashing station out of all local materials, which is a new concept that everyone was eager to implement in their own homes.

– Dental hygiene

– Waterborne and water-related disease, along with water treatment methods

Most of the topics were covered starting with a brainstorm session. Community members would break into groups and brainstorm water pollutants, for example. The trainer could then They also learned that water is often polluted during the journey home because it is not handled or stored properly.

The people at training look forward to sharing what they learned with their families, neighbors, and other people who use Ombalasi Spring. They now have the knowledge they need to keep their water clean from the time it's fetched up to when it's consumed.

Thank You for making all of this possible!

February, 2019: Emukoyani Community, Ombalasi Spring Project Underway

Dirty water from Ombalasi Spring is making people in Emukoyani 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 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.

Giving Update: Emukoyani Community, Ombalasi Spring

February, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Emukoyani 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!

"We used to fetch water using a jug because the spring was not protected. The water would get dirty, especially when it rained. Getting water was generally hard, time-wasting, and also we were not always sure of the water's safety we were drinking. You would get people lining up at the water point waiting for the water, and animals used to drink directly from the spring, too."

"Getting water from the water source now is not difficult. Even when you send children, they are able to fetch clean water since it is coming through the pipe. We use the least time possible to get water from this water source, unlike in the past when you would rush to be the first to fetch the drinking water. Nowadays, no matter the time you come to the spring, you will get clean and safe water."

"I am now able to plan my schedule since I am sure that I will get clean water, no matter the time. I am able also to send the children to fetch water without any fear. Personally, I have been able to see the water source bring us as a community together. This began when we were collecting materials for the construction and also during the training."

"We are now working together as a community just because of the water user committee that we set up."

Mercyline fetches water 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 Emukoyani 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 Emukoyani 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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