Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/10/2024

Project Features

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Unpredictable rainfall patterns can't guarantee water for communities, such as Mbau Village, all year round. Most rivers in this region are seasonal. Hand-dug wells are being built along sandy riverbeds to provide clean water, while sand dams harvest rainwater where it falls and make it available to the community through the dry season. This provides enough safe water for households, livestock and for income generating activities.


People in the community travel more than a mile to access water for washing and drinking. The burden of the long journey is usually endured by women and children as they are tasked with getting water for the family. The terrain is rough and steep which makes it a more difficult and tiresome walk.

Some members reported that they pay for the water because they don’t own donkeys for transporting the water from the source to their homes while others use their backs to ferry the water home.

The scoop holes are found on a seasonal river which is prone to running dry during prolonged seasons without rainfall. This leaves community members with no alternatives in their quest for water for household chores and livestock. That and the fact that the community shares the water source means it runs out of water often.

The community has been using the water without any form of treatment, thus exposing them to potential health risks from waterborne diseases.


"Our life and levels of hygiene and sanitation are not up to standard and are too low because we lack enough supply of clean water, we hope by working on developing water projects things will change for the better," Mrs. Ann Mwangangi said.

Roughly two-thirds of homes have latrines in Mbau. The latrines observed exhibited low levels of cleanliness. No household had water placed outside the facilities for use for handwashing. Some of the latrines were made of permanent and semi-permanent structures. Chances are high that some latrines have been affected by the ongoing rains leading to their collapse.


Mbau Community is found in Mwingi, more than 300km away from ASDF offices in Mtito Andei. Based on the distances involved and the number of projects in that area, we had to camp at Mwingi Town for several days so as to cover many projects within the area.

The community is in a peaceful rural area with a rough terrain comprising of steep slopes. The area is partly dry with scattered trees. Being a rural village, the majority of homes are made of bricks and roofed with iron sheets and often lack plastered or cement floors.

The majority of people living in this area are not in formal employment - many households have invested in subsistence farming for the provision of basic family food. Residents grow maize, cowpeas, pigeon peas, millet, sorghum and more recently others have started growing fruits, such as mangoes.

What we plan to do about it:

Our main entry point into Mbau Community has been the Yangondi Self-Help Group, which is comprised of 44 farming households that are working together to address water and food scarcity in their region. These members will be our hands and feet in both constructing water projects and spreading the message of good hygiene and sanitation to everyone.


We’re going to train Mbau Community on hygiene and sanitation practices. We want to ensure that community members are practicing the day to day habits we’re not able to observe. Food hygiene, water hygiene and treatment, personal hygiene and hand-washing will all be a focus during our sessions together.

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 Mbau 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. Our team is pleased to provide the reports for this project (edited for readability) thanks to the hard work of our friends in Kenya.

Project Updates

August, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Agnes Katethya Mutheki

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.

Our team recently visited Mbau Community 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 Agnes Katethya Mutheki shared her story of how the coronavirus has impacted her his life.

Field Officer Titus Mbithi met Agnes outside her home to conduct the interview. Both Titus and Agnes observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Agnes's story, in her own words.

What is one thing that has changed in your community since the completion of the water project?

The water point has been providing us with clean water since its installation. All surrounding homesteads have unlimited access to available water resources. Again, many people have now established small kitchen gardens using the water where they are growing kales, tomatoes, and cabbages. This will help improve our eating habits.

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

Having a reliable, clean water source has been of great importance to us, we are all using the available water to maintain the regular handwashing at home while also maintaining high standards of hygiene and sanitation. Having water from within is also helping towards ensuring we avoid traveling for long distances in search of water.

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?

Yeah, there was a change. Initially, I only stayed with my husband at home. Now, my grandchildren are around, which means more water is needed at home for daily use and also for maintaining the high standards of hygiene and sanitation. Fortunately, there are no major restrictions on fetching water.

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

Covid-19 has affected my family, especially my children and grandchildren. One of my sons was locked down in town all along - even after he had lost his job. It was a nightmare for us to support him with our meager income. My daughter also came to visit us here with her three children. When the cessation of movement orders was implemented, she couldn't travel back to her home.

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

Now that my husband and I are aged, we have been dependent on our children for upkeep. This pandemic has made most of them lose their jobs, which has been a blow to us, leading to a fall in living standards.

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

Most of the community members have installed handwashing stations at their homes to ensure regular hand washing all the time. We are also wearing face masks while in public places as a measure to avoid the virus.

Like most governments around the world, the Kenyan government continues to set and adjust restrictions both nationally and regionally to help control the spread of the disease.

What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?

The government lifted the movement restrictions yesterday. It is a major reprieve to my children who were locked in major towns after losing their jobs. Now they can travel home and live here with us.

What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?

I look forward to the lifting of the curfew restrictions and opening of schools so that life can go back to normal.

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

We learned how handwashing with clean water and soap stops the spread of the virus and the importance of wearing face masks while in public places.

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

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Mbau 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 Mbau, Kenya.

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.

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: Mbau Community

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

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

September, 2018: Mbau Community Hand-Dug Well Complete

Mbau 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.

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.

Heavy rain caused delays to the usual construction process, for the hole we excavated kept filling up with water. We eventually rented a submersible pump that would pull the water out of the hole so we could continue. Perseverance paid off, and community members are thrilled to see water coming from the pump so soon after installation.

Pumping water out of the hole being excavated for the well.


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.). 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.

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 simple maintenance tasks for themselves.

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.

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.

"Mbau Village is lighting up with joy after the implementation of this water project. Clean water will now be accessible to all of us without traveling for long distances, and this will improve our living standards," said Mrs. Kavutha Katava.

"There will be improved hygiene and sanitation among community members from the unlimited availability of water with this project, the training was good and educative on ways of remaining healthy through proper cleanliness at all levels."

New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was planned and organized by the Area Field Officer, Bendetta Makau, who communicated with the community members and settled on a date when Instructor Veronica Matolo could conduct sessions.

Attendance stood at 23, which was a good turnout for this important community activity. The presence of the Mbau Village Administrator demonstrated the importance of training. The group met at a homestead, arranging seats outside under trees. The weather was calm and cool, creating a conducive learning environment for all.

Mapping activities and facilities around the village

One of the most effective topics had participants out walking around the community. They searched for areas where people would use the bathroom, identifying the need for proper latrines and waste disposal. They learned about how this open defecation is being spread around their environment by flies and wild animals.

After returning to the homestead, we demonstrated how investments on good hygiene and sanitation pay off; that building a latrine, handwashing station, and treating water keeps people from having to pay for reoccurring medical treatment.

People also loved learning how to make soap. This won't only be used at the household level to wash hands, dishes, and more, but will be made in large batches to sell at the local market. The benefits to health are immediate, but the participants look forward to making an income off of their soap-making knowledge, too.

"The training has been good and a challenging one because we did not know that there’s too much open defecation in our area. We promise to change our actions and behaviors through following instructions from the training. This will help reduce the cost we’ve been using for treatment," shared Mrs. Kavutha Katava.

Mrs. Kavutha Katava

"From the calculations we did... we have learned that we spend a lot of money that could be used in development activities. The training method was so simple, thus allowing us to get equal knowledge that can be passed to all the community members easily. If we follow the instructions from the training, our community will be a wealthy and a healthy one."


May, 2018: Mbau Community Hand-Dug Well Project Underway

Unpredictable rainfall patterns can't guarantee water for communities, such as Mbau Village, all year round. Most rivers in this region are seasonal. Hand-dug wells are being built along sandy riverbeds to provide clean water, while sand dams harvest rainwater where it falls and make it available to the community through the dry season. This provides enough safe water for households, livestock and for income generating activities.

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: Mbau Community A

September, 2019

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mbau 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!

People living in Mbau no longer travel for more than 3 kilometers to neighboring Kyome in search of water. This is because the sand dam and hand-dug well have provided clean water to community members for the last year.

Community members are happy about the project as it is transforming their lives for the better.

"I am no longer missing school to help mum in fetching water like it used to be the case before this project. Now, I attend school regularly and I hope to improve my grades," said Faith Mwinzi, a 14-year-old girl we met while visiting the project recently.

Locals can now plant trees using the available water - something that was never possible in the past because of water problems affecting this community.

Levels of hygiene and sanitation have significantly improved at the locality because of the adequate water supply and the hygiene training which opened up locals to the need for high levels of cleanliness.

"Cases of water-related complications among community members have reduced because we are now using water from a trusted source," said Mutheki Mwengi, a member of the self-help group that supports the project.

Faith and Mutheki 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 Mbau 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 Mbau 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.


Project Sponsor - Barbara Belle Ash Dougan Foundation