A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted to examine away-from-home drinking water consumption practices and the microbiological quality of water consumed in rural western Kenya. The study involved adults and schoolchildren. Data were collected using focus group discussions, questionnaire survey, observations, diaries and interviews. The findings suggest that away-from-home drinking water consumption is a common practice in the study area; however, the microbiological quality of the water consumed is poor. While some respondents perceive the water to be safe for drinking mainly because of the clear colour of the water, others are forced by circumstances to drink the water as it is owing to a lack of alternative safe sources. It is concluded that there is a need for new innovative approaches to address away-from-home drinking water consumption in resource-poor settings in order to complement and maximize the benefits of point-of-use water treatment at the household level.