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The Water Project: Emulembo Community, Gideon Spring -  Clamety Havesa
The Water Project: Emulembo Community, Gideon Spring -  Water Storage
The Water Project: Emulembo Community, Gideon Spring -  Community Members
The Water Project: Emulembo Community, Gideon Spring -  Outside Latrine
The Water Project: Emulembo Community, Gideon Spring -  Stove
The Water Project: Emulembo Community, Gideon Spring -  Kitchen
The Water Project: Emulembo Community, Gideon Spring -  Farm
The Water Project: Emulembo Community, Gideon Spring -  Farm
The Water Project: Emulembo Community, Gideon Spring -  Garbage Pit
The Water Project: Emulembo Community, Gideon Spring -  Dishrack
The Water Project: Emulembo Community, Gideon Spring -  Clothes Drying
The Water Project: Emulembo Community, Gideon Spring -  Carrying Firewood
The Water Project: Emulembo Community, Gideon Spring -  Fetching Water
The Water Project: Emulembo Community, Gideon Spring -  Child Carrying Water
The Water Project: Emulembo Community, Gideon Spring -  Carrying Water
The Water Project: Emulembo Community, Gideon Spring -  Carrying Water
The Water Project: Emulembo Community, Gideon Spring -  Current Water Source

Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 420 Served

Project Phase:  Under Construction
Estimated Install Date (?):  01/10/2020

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

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

12/06/2019: 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!

The Water Project : 1-kenya19180-fetching-water

08/26/2019: 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.

The Water Project : 1-kenya19180-fetching-water

Project Photos

Project Type

Protected Spring

In many communities, natural springs exist as water flows from cracks in rocky ground or the side of a hill.  Springs provide reliable water but that doesn’t mean safe. When left open they become contaminated by surface contamination, animal and human waste and rain runoff. The solution is to protect the source. First, you excavate around the exact source area of the spring. Then, you build a protective reservoir for water flow, which pours through a reinforced pipe in a concrete headwall to a paved collection area. Safe water typically flows year-round and there is very limited ongoing maintenance needed!


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