Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 420 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/05/2024

Project Features

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Water Situation

Water from unprotected Gideon Spring in Emulembo is not just dirty but full of contaminants. So much so, that people here say two of the leading causes of death in their village are premature death due to diarrhea and typhoid, both of which are directly connected to their primary water source at Gideon Spring.

People spend much of their time, energy, and resources dealing with illnesses contracted from the spring water and the money spent on care and medicines to treat them. When community members fall sick, they are unable to do their daily activities like farming and running their businesses, which means they are not earning money for food, medicine, or school fees.

They also become socially isolated because they are not able to meet with their friends at social gatherings or go to church.

"Not having clean and safe water for drinking has caused many families to lose their loved ones through death, and other families to remain poor because they cannot work or continue with their daily activities due to sickness," said Clamety Havesa, a farmer in Emumbo.

According to those living in Emulembo, Gideon Spring has always had a lot of water, even during the dry season, but it has few other redeeming features in its current state. Because the spring is open, it fills up with leaves and surface water runoff from the crops surrounding it and is easily stepped in by accident by those filling up their containers. All of this can contaminate the water. The spring is also located down a slippery slope, making it difficult to access for anyone when it rains, not to mention the very young and elderly during even good weather.

There is a chlorine dispenser at the spring, but not all community members treat their water with it. They claim that they have been drinking the water from the unprotected spring since they were born and that the chlorine has a bad taste.

Our training will help sensitize the community on issues of water sanitation and how they relate to waterborne illnesses. But our construction design for the spring's protection will be a step toward creating safer water from the same source the community has been familiar with for years - allowing them to continue drinking straight from the source.

The sanitation condition of this community is not good because only a few community members have their own latrines, and most are shared across several households. The latrines that do exist are almost full and have no doors. The families who own them try to clean their latrines three days per week, but without available water or soap near the latrines their cleaning is often impossible and they are not able to wash their hands after visiting the toilet.

"Hygiene in this community is not good because some people have refused to build latrines, [so] they...depend on their neighbors. Others go to the sugarcane plantations, thus making the environment unclean. During rainy season, that [dirty] water can go directly to the water source [as runoff] and that causes water bone diseases [in] the community members," said farmer Jackline Awinja.

Welcome to Emulembo

On our recent visit to Emulembo, the weather was sunny and calm though the roads were muddy; the previous day it had rained the whole day.

The area is rural and very peaceful with a lot of green vegetation around given the current rainy season. Some buildings here are permanent, some are semi-permanent, and a few are grass thatched houses. Most kitchens are located outside the main house and they are normally mud-based and grass thatched. Community members come together for special or seasonal events, including sugar cane cutting for men, church days, weddings, funerals, and even bullfighting as this is one of the geographic and cultural strongholds of the game in Western Kenya.

Emulembo is an agrarian village, with residents farming crops including maize, beans, peas, sweet potatoes, and local vegetables. They also harvest sugarcane, a local cash crop if well cultivated and sometimes eaten as food if their other crops for home consumption fail. Tree planting has been emphasized in the area, but with so many eucalyptus trees chosen for their quick growth and straight shape, an unintended consequence has been that several other springs in the area have now dried up. Compared to other local species, Eucalyptus trees require large amounts of water for their growth and can significantly impact the water table around them.

Other work in the community includes boda boda (motorbike taxis) businesses, mostly run by young men who drop out of school to engage in the trade, and sugarcane cutting by the adult men. Most responsibilities fall to the women in Emumbo, however, as they are the ones farming, selling their vegetables and cereal grains for income, taking care of their families, and paying school fees.

At the center of women's lives is the inherently risky task of fetching water from Gideon Spring, knowing that it is their only water source while also knowing it could make themselves and their families sick. Their day starts at 6:00am, when women wake up and prepare their children to go to school. Then they go to the farm where they work all morning. In the early afternoon the women return home to start their house chores like washing dishes, doing laundry by hand, and preparing food for their children for lunch. With the chores done, they then go look for firewood, come back, start preparing food for the family, and eat supper. Their work does not usually end until about 9:00 pm.

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 Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST),  Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS),  Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), 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 concrete 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 Everlyne Muruli

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.

Everlyne Muruli is a 48-year-old farmer and mother who lives in Emulembo and relies on Gideon Spring for her daily water needs. An active member of the spring's water user committee, Everlyne also serves as the group's treasurer.

Everlyne Muruli shows her mask outside her home in Emulembo.

Our team recently visited Emulembo 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 Everlyne shared her story of how the coronavirus has impacted her life.

Team member David Muthama met Everlyne outside her home to conduct the interview. Both David and Everlyne observed social distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. Their questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.

Everlyne raises her hand to pose a question during the COVID-19 refresher training.

What is one thing that has changed in your community since the protection of Gideon Spring?

"The sicknesses that we used to complain about are no longer there, and we have realized most of them were water-related diseases. This has helped the community know the importance of having clean, safe water because since the protection of the spring, no cases [of water-related diseases] have been reported evidently in my family."

Everlyne fetches water from Gideon Spring.

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

"I am happy because the spring is protected and washing my hands with clean water, I know I will not catch the virus because the water is clean and safe. Again, any time I come back from outside the home I wash my hands and also after touching items here and there. The water is also safe for drinking."

Community members observe social distancing while lining up to fetch water at Gideon Spring (Everlyne is at the discharge pipe).

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, things have changed a lot because we are very many who use the spring so I just fetch water and leave; no more chatting with other users because crowds are not allowed. I also must wear my mask to the spring to avoid contamination."

Everlyne demonstrates putting on her mask without touching her face, the way she learned at training.

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

"As for me and my activities, I have not been badly affected since most of my life I have depended on farming. I still go to my farm and take care of my animals and crops. But as for my family, my husband and children have been affected. My husband no longer goes to work and the studies of my children have been affected [since schools closed in March]; they are just idling at home."

Everlyne with her husband and son at home.

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

"The prolonged stay by the children at home is getting very expensive economically, and since they are idle I am worried for their safety."

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

"It has become a rule every homestead should have a handwashing station. When you enter someone's compound, you have to wash your hands with soap, and also after leaving the place you wash your hands. The chief and local administration are really strict about social gatherings and wearing of masks in public places."

Everlyne lathers up her hands with soap to wash her hands at home.

What restriction are you looking forward to being lifted?

"The social gatherings ban, because I am a singer and we can no longer meet for choir practices. Even if we get the chance, due to social distancing, the  music does not make much sense."

When asked where she he receives information about COVID-19, Everlyne listed the radio, word of mouth, and our team's sensitization training.

Everlyne washes her hands with water from Gideon Spring using the leaky tin handwashing station she set up outside her home.

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

"When you emphasized on the point that washing hands with soap helps keep Corona away, we have adhered to that. It works - so far no one has been harmed by Corona around here."

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Emulembo Community, Gideon 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 in masks and gloves while practicing social distancing and leading 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 Emulembo, Kenya.

A woman listens to training wearing her homemade mask

We trained more than 10 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.

Team Leader Emmah in action with full personal protective gear

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 helps make the new leaky tin for 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 leads handwashing demonstration

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 community member washes her hands

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.

January, 2020: Emulembo Community, Gideon Spring Project Complete!

Emulembo Community now has access to clean water! Gideon Spring has been transformed into a flowing source of water thanks to your donation. We protected the spring, provided 5 sanitation platforms to different households in the community, and we trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices.

Children of Emumbo enjoying the water at Gideon Spring

Spring Protection

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

Mr. Hendi Anyika, an older farmer who helped organize training and who would be elected Chair of the water committee, helped mobilize his community members by blowing his whistle as he went from homestead to homestead, asking folks to help collect and deliver stones and other building materials to the construction site. The whistle of elders is a common organizing tool in this area, so people know to take action when they hear it.

Community membres delivering stones to the construction site

The Process

Women and men 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.

Field Officer Elvin confirming accurate measurements of the discharge pipe

As the wing walls and headwall were curing, the stairs were set and ceramic tiles were fixed directly below the discharge pipe. The tiles help protect the concrete from the erosive force of the falling water and beautifies the spring. Because the path to access Gideon Spring is downstream and very steep, Mr. Anyika brought the community together and they agreed to contribute money to extend the staircase further than the original plan to make it much easier to access their spring.

Extending the stairs to Gideon 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 thick plastic tarp to prevent potential sources of contamination. It took about 2 weeks of patience for the concrete to dry.

Field Officer Elvin helps the artisan and community members plant grass at the spring site

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.

"Our children will no longer know the pain of typhoid since in every village around here with unprotected springs, people suffer from typhoid constantly. We did know the cause in our village, but there were no other sources of clean or safe water. But now, everything is going to be okay," said Mr. Anyika.

The official handing over of Gideon Spring to the Emumbo Community, with Field Officer Elvin on right

Sanitation Platforms

All 5 sanitation platforms have been installed. These 5 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.

“I feel blessed that I will not have to bother my neighbors by sharing a latrine with them anymore,” said Mama Marystella Musundi, whose family previously had to go to the next compound to ask to share their latrine.

Other times, when the 2 families were not on good terms, Mama Musundi's family would have to resort to open defecation, but now this will be a burden of the past.

Proud new owners of a sanitation platform

New Knowledge

Mr. Anyika was tasked with organizing the training, so he spread the word as he was going to each house blowing his whistle during the materials collection phase of spring construction. Mr. Anyika 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. We ended up doing the official handing over ceremony on the morning of training, so everyone came to the event in very high spirits as the mood had already been set.

36 people attended training, 2 thirds of whom were women. We held the training outside as "the day was sunny, but thanks to Mama Africa the meeting point had trees that gave beautiful shade for conducive learning," said Field Officer David Muthama.

Everybody was interested since we explained that there would be an election to choose the water committee leaders "and oh my, this community really loves politics so this made the members present and excited" recalled David.

Group discussion activity during training

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

The primary healthcare session led by Facilitator Miss Lynah Akuku was particularly lively, as participants were quick to answer, correct, and joke with one another throughout the session as they interacted with Lynah. Next up was environmental hygiene, which was encouraging since most of the women in this community were well-educated and enthusiastic about taking care of their environment. Most women had already constructed clotheslines, and a majority of the homesteads had dishracks.

One community member, Jackline, found herself put on the spot when she said she airs her laundry on the grass, but the facilitator Miss Lynah explained the dangers and risks of the practice, such as poisonous worms attaching themselves to the cloth which can then harm you once you get dressed. Jackline promised to construct a clothesline directly following the training.

Handwashing session

Reflecting on the dental hygiene session, teenager and student Petronilla shared her thoughts on what she learned.

"This training has enabled me to get the correct procedure of how to take good care of my teeth. Using your demonstrations I have now seen how to do it properly. I used to think you could brush your teeth any which way and in any direction but now I have learned otherwise," she said.

A volunteer demonstrates proper toothbrushing during dental hygiene session

The training was so smooth and fun, and everyone was happy throughout the day. One factor adding to this was the presence of the Community Administrator from the County Government, who stayed throughout the training session and even had a small talk with his community.

With the election of the water committee leadership, the training came to an exciting close. The community members said they have really benefited from the training and that they would now be at peace after selecting leaders that will protect the interest of their spring. With many of them putting in a lot of effort to see the project come to fruition, all they wanted was to have their energy never go to waste and with this, they were hungry for good leaders that the majority already had in mind. Among the other elected members, this resulted in the election of Mr. Anyika to the position of Chair.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

December, 2019: Emulembo Community, Gideon Spring Project Underway!

Dirty water from Gideon Spring is making people in Emulembo sick. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install 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!

August, 2019: Going with the Flow

We stand behind our commitment to help provide communities with access to clean, safe, and reliable water. That's why when we conducted our follow-up visits to Wanyonyi Spring in Kisembe Community to continue vetting the spring's potential for protection, we realized it was no longer a suitable candidate. Kenya endured one of the driest seasons on record this year, and in the intense drought we found that Wanyonyi Spring was no longer viable - the water had dried up.

Without enough water to guarantee a year-round source, we worked with the community to determine the next best solution for their water stress. They requested a chorine dispenser to help treat the water when it returned, and we were able to connect them with a local organization that will help install the dispenser and provide training on its use.

With these changes in focus, we redirected our efforts to Gideon Spring in Emumbo Community, where we have successfully determined the spring is viable year-round and is a good candidate for protection. We will continue to grow our relationship with Kisemebe Community, however, as we work with them to find a different, reliable water source in the area.

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: Emulembo Community, Gideon Spring

February, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Emulembo 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 protection, it was very difficult to access the drawing point and the water was unsafe. At times, you would find that kids had eaten sugarcane and thrown the discarded bits into the pond of collected water. And when it rained, all the debris from the runoff used to also be deposited into the spring."

"Since the construction, there is no gathering to wait for clean water. And, now that I have clean water, my kids no longer suffer from waterborne or water-related diseases. Hence, I save some money that I put to other use."

"I have six children that I have to feed, and I used to boil a lot of water for my family. Now that I have a protected spring with pure, clean water, that burden has been lifted."

Emi Adisa

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 Emulembo 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 Emulembo 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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