Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2018

Functionality Status:  Low/No Water or Mechanical Breakdown

Last Checkup: 02/20/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

Mbindi Self-Help Group is made up of farmers who united to address water and food shortages in their region. We've come alongside them to give them the support and tools they've needed, and they've already completed two clean water systems in Mbindi Village.

Now, they're looking to improve living standards for their neighbors in Kathuni.

The group was formed in 2015 with a membership of 27 people; 12 males and 15 females. Their home of Mbindi has a population of 832. The average age of members is 47, and the average household size is seven. The majority of members, since farmers, rely on agriculture as their main source of income.


The main sources of water for the area are two sand dam and well systems we've built in Mbindi. But with a region of about 1,500 people relying on them, the systems get extremely busy at times. Furthermore, both are still far away from many families living on the other side of the village.

Those who don't have the time or who are farther away fetch their water from open sources. These are completely open to contamination, and users still suffer from waterborne diseases. That's why Mbindi Self-Help Group is continuing its partnership with us to install even more clean water systems in different areas.


Having a usable pit latrine has always been important for people living in Mbindi; when we got there, we found 100% coverage. Instead, weaknesses were discovered in areas like hand-washing (less than half of families have a dedicated place for personal hygiene), and bathing. There has been some improvement since our first trainings, though. For example, everyone now has a pit for proper waste disposal.

Here's what we're going to do:


We will continue to focus on daily habits that are difficult to monitor. Though we can check up on households to see how clean they are, we're not able to observe daily water treatment, personal hygiene, and food preparation. We'll check in with community members' knowledge of the proper practices and review them together.

Hand-Dug Well

This hand-dug well is being built adjacent to the 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.

With these projects, clean water will be brought closer to hundreds living around both Mbindi and Kathuni.

This project is a part of our shared program with Africa Sand Dam Foundation. 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

October, 2019: Giving Update: Kathuni Community A

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

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

August, 2018: Water Flowing in Kathuni Community

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

New Knowledge

Our field officer visited Kathuni earlier this year to visit households and check up on their progress since last year's training. These follow-up visits revealed that there were some gaps in the mastery of particular hygiene and sanitation topics. The field officer recommended a review training to highlight these topics. Community members agreed and asked not only for a review opportunity but for a chance to learn how to make their own soap. They met with us at Mr. Bernard Muia’s homestead on a hot, sunny day.

Community members agreed on an action plan last year and spent the beginning of these latest sessions to review their progress.

The group reviewed ways to treat water since the trainer found very few families had been treating water since last year's training. Beyond detailed different methods, the trainer taught about some maintenance tactics too. For example, animals should be kept away from drinking water sources.

The group was taken through the various steps of making soap. Each group member took turns participating in every stage of the process. Despite the whole process taking a long time (around two and half hours), the members exercised a lot of patience until the entire batch was made.

Everyone took turns stirring the ingredients to make soap.

"The training was good. Our hygiene at home will improve because of the soap and the training. We will also sell some of the soap and earn income to benefit us. For example, we will pay for our children's school fees. Our income will greatly increase both individually and at a group level," Mr. John Mulwa said.

Mr. John Mulwa

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.). They had to wait a while to install the lining because the hole unexpectedly flooded with water. 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, which will naturally filter the rainwater that’s stored behind the dam.

Heavy rain flooded quite a few of the wells being excavated earlier this year. People had to bail out the water so that the artisan could line the well with brick and mortar.

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 concrete needs to dry over the course of two weeks before the pump is installed.

The mechanics arrive to install the pump as community members watch, learning how to manage and maintain the pump for themselves.

Thumbs up for a finished well and brand new pump!

The well is then given another few days after installing the pump to allow the joints to completely dry. Communities are advised to pump out the water that seeps into the well after it rains for the first time because it needs to be cleaned out after construction. After pumping that for a while, the water turns clean and clear like what we see in the picture below.

A woman trying the well water for the first time.

The pump was installed level with the top of the sand dam (click here to check it out) because as the dam matures, sand builds up to the top of the wall. Until then, people will climb the concrete steps to get their water. The group members were trained by our technical team on how to handle the common issues, although it is recommended that they contact the field officer in charge first before taking any matters into their hands.

"There were many water problems in this area and we had many issues when it came to access clean water. However, the situation has changed after the shallow well was installed in our community, and now we can easily improve our lives as well as our livelihoods," Mr. John Mulwa said.

June, 2018: Kathuni Community Well Project Underway

A severe clean water shortage affects hundreds of families living in Kathuni Community. But soon, families will no longer have to walk long distances to find clean water, wasting hours of time and tons of energy. So much has already been accomplished in Kathuni thanks to the hard work of artisans, mechanics, and trainers!

We received great pictures from one of the workshops held for community members who wanted to learn how to make soap, which they plan to not only use at home but sell in the local market. We look forward to reaching out with more good news in the coming weeks!

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: Kathuni Community A

September, 2019

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Kathuni Community 1B.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kathuni Community 1B 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 are delighted to report an improvement in our community since the completion of this project," said Bernard Ngui, a member of the self-help group that contributed to the construction of the sand dam and hand-dug well in Kathuni a year ago.

The water project has amounted to immense change, growth, and development in Kathuni village. The environment is very green and serene. A variety of fruit trees and food crops have been planted such as bananas, pawpaws, avocados, maize, beans, mangoes, and timber trees. Their water is fresh for drinking and the water table level is high - meaning there is a lot of water at the shallow well.

Community members access clean water easily at a distance of fewer than 500 meters. The water table level has increased and there is a lot of sand along the river bed which enables further water storage.

"Initially, there was no water nearby to use for drinking or to carry out household chores. Currently, it takes us less than 30 minutes to get to the water source and less time is expended on the task of fetching water. This has enabled more members to indulge in other income-generating activities such as farming," said Mr. Ngui.

"I have benefited most from this project because my farm is adjacent to the water project; I have planted French beans for sale which has earned me a great income enabling me to cater [to] my family needs."

Bernard Ngui

Farming is progressing well with most members venturing in agribusiness, especially in the sale of French beans and vegetables such as kale, cabbage, and spinach. Hygiene and sanitation have improved since the training that was conducted with the group members. The members reported having frequent showers, the maintenance of clean latrines, and improved hygiene habits.

"Life has changed and the difference is highly appreciated. I used to walk for more than 3 kilometers to fetch water. Most of my duties would get postponed for days because of insufficient water. There were also many diseases that were contracted from drinking water fetched from open water sources," said Rose Mbithe, a 60-year-old user of the well.

"At my age, I can boast of a very comfortable life thanks to the water projects."

Rose Mbithe fetches water at the well

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 Kathuni Community 1B 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 Kathuni Community 1B – 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.