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: 03/01/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

Utuneni Village is a calm and fairly vegetated rural area whose terrain is graded with red fertile soil. The houses are made of red bricks and are somewhat modern. However, among the homesteads we visited, not all the floors were cemented.

There are many occupations in the area but the most common are farming and casual labor. The young men mostly resort to casual labor where they work on other people's farms or they work as constructors and are paid on a daily basis.

On an average day, the women wake up at 6am, go to fetch water, and then prepare breakfast for the family as the children prepare for school. The men go to the farm to get grass for the livestock and prepare to run errands.

Errands that are most common are farming, taking farm products to the market, and feeding the livestock. During the day, the women wash the family’s clothes, tidy up the house, washes utensils and prepare lunch as well as supper for the family. They also have the community meetings such as fellowship and self-help group meetings during the day.


Community members walk up to an hour to reach the spring near the Kinyongo River. Long lines at the water source mean people sometimes wait up to an hour to fetch the water once they have arrived.

The spring water is always crowded since its the sole water point in the community during the dry season. Some families enlist donkeys to help carry the water. Those who cannot afford the assistance usually can only carry one jerrycan of water at a time.

"We struggle a lot to fetch water from this spring but we have no option. It is very far," said Mrs. Esther Mutheu said.

"The problem is that it is usually overcrowded and since it's the only source of water we have we have to be patient."

The water is not safe for drinking since the source is not protected, thus posing a high risk of contracting typhoid, amoeba and other water-borne diseases. The water is especially prone to harbor all kinds of pollutants during the rainy season.

"Typhoid is the most common because people rarely treat their water here, only a few people have that knowledge and patience," Mrs. Mutheu said.


The members of these homesteads posses some of the structures needed for good hygiene such as latrines and bathing stations. Fewer than half of homes in the community have latrines, but many will share with their neighbors.

In one of the homesteads observed, the bathroom did not have a door instead they put sacks on the door area. The latrines are rarely cleaned since there is no nearby water source - hence emitting foul smells. And there are no handwashing stations near the latrines. People opt to use ash as a cleaning technique because water is a scarce commodity.

What we plan to do about it:

Our main entry point into Utuneni Community has been the Ngwatanio Ya Kinyongo 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 Utuneni 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 handwashing 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 Utuneni 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

July, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Utuneni 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 Utuneni, 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: Utuneni Community

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

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

October, 2018: Utuneni Community Hand-Dug Well Complete

Utuneni 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.

Sand collected for well and dam construction.


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. 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.

A view of the well behind the sand dam.

It could take up to three years of rain (Because sometimes it only rains once a year!) for the adjacent sand dam to build up enough stand to store the maximum amount of water - water available for drinking, cooking, washing, watering animals, and irrigating farms.

"This water project is a dream coming true to the majority of us within this village. Everyone is happy, as water problems will be eased by having this water point at the center of our village," shared Mr. Mutua.

"Community members are in high spirits to work on more projects as the benefits of having an unlimited clean water supply close to our homes will be felt by everyone."

New Knowledge

Field Officer Paulson Mukonzi worked to organize a sanitation and hygiene training with the community. Once dates were set, he reached out to the self-help group chairman who informed other members of the community. The training was held at the homestead of Mr. Benjamin Muindi.

Attendance was as expected, and a lot of the group members were eager to learn about new hygiene practices and behaviors. The area chief was also present and was very much impressed, saying that it was the first time he saw such a training held in his area.

The trainer, Veronica Matolo, organized topics by what we observed and heard during our tour of the community. She highlighted water treatment methods, dish racks, water point care, food preparation and storage, latrines, handwashing, and general household hygiene.

We taught how to build a tippy tap to use for washing hands.

Participants particularly enjoyed creating a seasonal calendar together in groups. This had them identifying the problems they most commonly contend with, and what they believe to be the causes. We were able to post these calendars on our easel up front and teach everyone about ways to prevent the spread of these diseases.

Soapmaking was another great activity, for which the group worked together to follow our recipe to make 40 liters of soap. They are excited to take this recipe back home and make their own soap to sell in the local market. Having this liquid soap around will improve the hygiene and sanitation standards at home, too!

This group was intensely involved in their learning, which was very encouraging for our trainers!

"The training will be of great help to us since this kind of training we’ve had for three days has never been held. Not in our group, and not in the entire village," shared Mr. Benson Mutua.

"Incidences of diseases will be minimized because we have learned how to prevent them through different hygiene practices."

September, 2018: Utuneni Community Hand-Dug Well Underway

Dirty water from open sources is making people in Utuneni Community sick. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know your 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 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: Utuneni Community A

September, 2019

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Utuneni 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!

The community members in Utuneni village are basking in the abundance of water attained at the shallow well constructed alongside the sand dam a year ago.

"It takes less than 10 minutes to fetch water from the shallow well. The water is very fresh for drinking and cooking. Household chores are done easily and faster," said Angela Muema.

Utuneni community members have been getting clean drinking water which is fresh and contains no salinity - a problem they encountered with their previous water sources. The distance covered to fetch water has been reduced tremendously and a large group of people from the community can now access the water source.

"We used to walk between 4 and 5 kilometers daily in order to fetch a 20-liter jerrycan of water. Now we walk for less than a kilometer," said Benson Mutua, Chair of the water committee.

"We are now able to save money because we used to have to buy jerrycans of salty water from the previous source. Now, the water we drink is very fresh and has been flowing throughout the year."

The environment in Utuneni has also changed for the better. It is visibly greener. Water flows throughout the year and the self-help group members are earning an income from selling water to other community members. The water sales business booms during the drought period because the water source is at the center of the village. The group is determined to use the income they make from the water sales to establish a lending program so they can pay for things that will help improve their lives.

"We are very proud of ourselves for the efforts we put in towards the construction of this project," said Mr. Mutua.

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 Utuneni 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 Utuneni 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.


Facebook Payments
Give a Free Lunch
Pledgeling Foundation
Isabel's Campaign for Water
2 individual donor(s)