Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/16/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

Mbuuni Self-Help Group was formed in 2010 and currently has a huge membership of 254 people; 194 men and 60 women. The group is located in Mbuuni Village, which has a population of 1,978 people.

The average household size is five, and the average age of the group members is 45. The main sources of income are farming and casual labor - if one doesn't own their own farmland, they'll look for work on someone else's farm. Most people earn less than 10,000 shillings ($100) each month.

This self-help group has been involved with us for two years now, and their aim is to bring much-needed water to their region. We stand alongside them, providing the tools and finances needed to achieve this goal.

To see all of Mbuuni Self-Help Group's undertakings, click here.


Mbuuni Village has a population that's nearing 2,000 people - and they all used to rely on just one borehole. This was installed by the Machakos County government, which would charge people for each jerrycan of water collected from the pump.

Those who couldn't afford that water, dug holes in the sandy bed of Thwake River to access its water.

There isn't only one clean water source in Mbuuni, thanks to our partnership with self-help groups. We built a sand dam and hand-dug system that supplies clean water.

This water isn't free. The fees paid by users are kept in the community for pump maintenance and development opportunities. But with such a large population, these two wells are not enough. One water point can only reasonably serve a few hundred people. That's why multiple projects in one community is important.

To learn more, click here.

And there are still families living a great distance away. As of now, many families spend a lot of time walking to and waiting at these clean water points.

Thus, we have accepted the self-help group's application to construct two more sand dams and well systems in Mbuuni.


Continuing hygiene and sanitation training is part of our relationship with Mbuuni. They're doing a great job implementing everything they've learned, including building and using latrines, bathing shelters, and handwashing stations.

There's 100% latrine coverage, and almost everybody has a bathroom for washing every morning. Almost half of households have a hand-washing station called a "tippy tap," a jerrycan that pours water as a string tilts it.

About 75% of people are treating their water before drinking it. Though water from these wells is clean when gathered, it should be treated after transportation and storage.

Here's what we're going to do:


We recently visited over a dozen households to check on sanitation and hygiene standards. Two of the most impressive households we visited were those of Mrs. Nduku Mutua and Mr. Muli Mbalu (pictures on this page). These visits inform our trainers on what they might need to review with the community during their next trainings. We will continue to teach about the importance of hand-washing, for though Mrs. Mutua and Mr. Mbalu have tippy taps, many of their neighbors still don't.

Hand-Dug Well

This particular hand-dug well is being built adjacent to this group’s ongoing sand dam project (click here to see), which will supply clean drinking water once it rains. We have supplied the group with the tools needed for excavation. With the guidance of our artisans and mechanics, the excavated well will be cased, sealed with a well pad, and then finished with a new AfriDev pump.

Excavation takes a month or more on average, depending on the nature of the rock beneath. Construction of the well lining and installation of the pump takes 12 days maximum. The well will be lined with a concrete wall including perforations so that once it rains, water will filter in from the sand dam.

This well will be located in Mbuuni Village, and will bring clean water closer to families having to walk long distances for their water.

This project is a part of our shared program with Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF). Our team is pleased to provide the reports for this project (formatted and edited for readability) thanks to the hard work of our friends in Kenya.

Project Updates

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Mbuuni Community

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.

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 Mbuuni, Kenya.

During our training, we met Janet Mutuku, a 44-year-old teacher who lives in the community.

Janet Mutuku

She shared with us the challenges she faces during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is not working right now since the schools are closed across Kenya. That has made her life more difficult. However, the set of sand dams and hand-dug wells that her self-help group constructed over the past few years is something Janet can rely on.

“Having a well and sand dam project at this time has been a great blessing and we are very grateful for the support granted by The Water Project. Times are hard and having a reliable source of water is very advantageous," she said.

Fetching water from one of the Mbuuni wells, before COVID-19 pandemic.

We trained community members 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.

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.

Handwashing station

"We are expected to wash our hands frequently and this has been possible because our projects have been providing an abundant supply of water,” Janet said.

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.

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.

October, 2019: Giving Update: Mbuuni Community E

A year ago, your generous donation helped Mbuuni Community in Kenya access clean water.

There’s an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Mbuuni Community. Month after month, their giving supports ongoing sustainability programs that help this community maintain access to safe, reliable water. Read more…

October, 2018: Mbuuni Community Hand-Dug Well Complete

Mbuuni Community, Kenya now has a new source of water thanks to your donation. A new hand-dug well was constructed adjacent to a sand dam. The dam will build up sand to raise the water table and naturally filter water. Community members also attended hygiene and sanitation training, and plan to share what they learned with their families and neighbors.

New Knowledge

The first hygiene and sanitation training done for this area was in March 2017. The training sessions held after the first are intended to cover weaknesses we notice during household visits. After a follow-up conducted in July 2017, there was a clear need for a review because very little had been achieved by the group members. So another training was scheduled for 2018.

Reviewing the group’s progress in establishing good sanitation facilities at home.

Training was in the homestead of Gideon Kiilu and attended by 210 group members over the course of a few days. It was very sunny during training, so everyone kept shifting their chairs around to be in the shade.

We informed group members of different ways to treat water. They were very curious about learning the pros and cons of each method.

As for weaknesses, we realized the majority of latrines had open pits that allowed odors to escape and flies to enter. For new content, we taught group members how to make their own soap. Many members had already been mixing their own soap but admitted that after a few days it would spoil and have to be thrown away.

This session was particularly interesting for group members who wanted to fix their process and produce good soup for sale.

“According to how group members expressed interest in the training, I think it will change our lives,” 70-year-old Gideon Kiilu said.

“For instance, on the issue of diseases, we have learned how we can prevent waterborne diseases. That knowledge will help us. We have also learned about making soap, which is a very important activity. It will help us change our hygiene standards and increase incomes.”

Hand-Dug Well

We delivered the experts and materials, but the community helped get an extraordinary amount of work done. They collected local materials to supplement the project, including sand and water.

A hole seven feet in diameter is excavated up to a recommended depth of 25 feet. (Most hand-dug wells don’t reach that depth due to the existence of hard rocks between 10-18 ft.).

At this point, heavy rains delayed any progress. The excavated well filled up with water before the lining was finished. The group patiently waited until the rains subsided, after which they could bail the well with a bucket and rope system.

The diameter then shrinks to five feet when construction of the hand-dug well lining is completed. This lining is made of brick and mortar with perforations to allow for water to seep through. Sand builds up around the well walls and will naturally filter the rainwater that’s stored behind the dam.

Once the construction of the lining reaches ground level, a precast concrete slab is laid on top and joined to the wall using mortar. Four bolts for the hand-pump are fixed on the slab during casting. The mechanics arrive to install the pump as community members watch, learning how to manage and maintain the pump for themselves.

The pump was installed level with the top of the sand dam (click here to see that project) because as the dam matures, sand will build up to the top of the wall. We wouldn’t want the pump to be buried by sand!

The well is then left for a few days after installing the pump to allow the joints to completely dry. Communities pump out the water that seeps into the well after it rains for the first time since it needs to be cleaned out after construction.

"Mbuuni Community is very much happy with this project. Cumulatively, we have now implemented three water projects in different corners of the village and many people have unlimited access to water for household use," said Mr. Gedion Kiilu.

"And further, water which can be used for farming to earn community income and improve food security. It is the joy of everyone being part of this exciting generation."

June, 2018: Rain Delay in Mbuuni Community

Hand-dug well and sand dam systems throughout Machakos County have recently benefited from seasonal rains that only come once or twice a year. When a hand-dug well is still under construction, the rain isn't as helpful! The well in Mbuuni Community was being dug during these torrential downpours, and the hole filled up with mud before it could be covered. The community and our artisans are starting the excavation process over again, and asked for some extra time to persevere.

Thank You for standing with Mbuuni Community as we work together to deliver clean water!

April, 2018: Mbuuni Community's Well Underway

A severe clean water shortage still affects families living in Mbuuni Community. Families are having to walk long distances to find clean water, wasting hours of time and tons of energy. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point nearby and much more.

Get to know your community through the introduction and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with more good news!

Project Photos

Project Type

Hand-dug wells have been an important source of water throughout human history! Now, we have so many different types of water sources, but hand-dug wells still have their place. Hand dug wells are not as deep as borehole wells, and work best in areas where there is a ready supply of water just under the surface of the ground, such as next to a mature sand dam. Our artisans dig down through the layers of the ground and then line the hole with bricks, stone, or concrete, which prevent contamination and collapse. Then, back up at surface level, we install a well platform and a hand pump so people can draw up the water easily.

Giving Update: Mbuuni Community E

September, 2019

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Mbuuni Community 3B.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mbuuni Community 3B 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!

The members of Mbuuni Community are ecstatic about the water project that was constructed in their area. Their environment has changed as it has become serene and very cool thanks to the regular access to water.

The water point is near most homesteads so people now walk for a shorter distance to access water each day.

"I recall how we used to struggle to fetch clean water and the long distances that we had to trek to attain this precious commodity," said Florence Nthenya, a member of the self-help group that contributed to the construction of the well and dam.

"The water point's proximity to my home is very close. I can take less than 10 minutes to fetch water and get back to my home. This has enabled me to engage in farming at my small plot of land."

Management of household duties and engagement in other income-generating duties is feasible and more achievable. Farmer Alphansas Kitonyi told us that he planted French beans, tomatoes, and kale on his farm, thanks to the gallons of water harvested by the sand dam.

"My life has improved and it is better," he said.

Cleanliness, hygiene, and sanitation standards have also improved over time as a result of the project. Mrs. Nthenya told us that it is much easier to maintain a clean household and for her family to consistently wash their hands after using the bathroom and before eating.

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 Mbuuni Community 3B 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 Mbuuni Community 3B – 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.