Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2019

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/15/2024

Project Features

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This is our second year working with the Ivuka Self-Help Group. They formed in January 2016 with the objective of developing and enhancing the social welfare of its 25 members who come from Ivumbu, Kasioni, Kaani, and other communities in the region.

Last year, we installed a dug well and hand pump alongside a sand dam to help households in Kaani Community access safe water. However, we estimate a well can only support a maximum of 500 people, so more work needs to be done to ensure this region of more than 5,000 people can access safe water. That is why we work together with each group for five years to build sustainable water and sanitation solutions. This year, we're working in Kyetonye Community.

An elderly woman in the community, Mrs. Magdalene Mwende, told us how exhausting it is for her to make the journey to Kaani to fetch water. She finds the trip back home with heavy water jerrycans to be the worst part. She said it is fine for young people because they are energetic.

That leads her and others who are far from the region's first hand-dug well to use other nearby alternative water sources. The water is easier to collect, but it is unsafe. These open sources harbor waterborne diseases that cause the people who drink from it to fall ill.

"The distance to go and fetch water is far since it is too steep for someone my age. At times we get typhoid, bilharzia or even amoeba because of drinking the water that is nearer," Mrs. Mwende said to us.

"My nephew has been diagnosed with amoeba many times. We do not have the techniques to treat this water."

This is a rural area that is partly vegetative, while other areas are bone dry and cannot sustain growth. It is a peaceful area dotted with buildings made of brick stones while others are made of iron sheets. The majority of households rely on farming as their main income source.

Some people report that they also take on informal labor. They are often hired by the hour to perform tasks on larger farms. A few people own small businesses or are formally employed in the region.

The average day starts with the sunrise around 6am. The women usually go fetch water for washing and to prepare breakfast before the children go to school. The men often take the livestock out for grazing. During the day, the woman washes the family’s clothes, tidy up the house, washes utensils and prepares lunch as well as supper for the family. However, in this community, the parents are aged leaving the children to do most of the tasks.

Poverty is a major problem in the community. We collected reports from families struggling to produce enough food so that everyone can eat three meals a day. Continuing to construct sand dams and wells will help improve access to safe water and make it easier for farmers to irrigate their crops.

What we plan to do about it:

Our main entry point into Kyetonye Community has been the Ivuka Self-Help Group, which is comprised of 39 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 continue training the self-help group members and their communities on hygiene and sanitation practices. Though our visits to households were encouraging, 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 next review.

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 Kyetonye Village and will bring clean water closer to families having to walk long distances for their water.

Project Updates

August, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Peter Muthusi

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 Kyetonye to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training and monitor their water point. We checked in on the community and asked how the pandemic is affecting their lives.

It was during this most recent visit that Peter Muthusi shared his story of how the coronavirus has impacted her his life.

Our field officer met Peter outside his home to conduct the interview. Both our staff member and Peter observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Peter's story, in his own words.

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

"Fear and anxieties around the disease and the future have been heightened due to the closure of businesses. Following the rise of cases daily, we are afraid of contracting the disease, and this has led to loneliness as we are not interacting with our neighbors as we used to. Unreliable source of income at this time has resulted in family conflicts and disagreements because of lack of money. Not being able to speak to friends and meeting them regularly is hard. We feel like we are disconnected from society, and we are wondering when the situation will normalize."

What steps is Kenya taking to prevent the spread of the virus?

"To stop the spread of the virus, Kenya has been conducting sensitization training of health care workers in Kenya. Frequent health education campaigns have been airing on media outlets to inform citizens on how to protect themselves by wearing masks all the time, washing their hands and avoiding crowded places. Quarantine facilities have been set up to ensure the victims of the virus are isolated for fourteen days. Contact tracing has also been going on to prevent the spread of this virus."

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?

"When going to the water sources we have been observing government regulations like wearing masks and social distancing. We have established handwashing stations near the wells to ensure each member washes their hands before handling the pump."

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

"Despite the challenges, we are very thankful to The Water Project and Africa Sand Dam Foundation for empowering us with skills that have been applicable during this pandemic. Training such as smart agriculture practices, soap making, and construction of tippy taps have all boosted our survival capacity during this time. Both sand dam and the well are saving us time and enabling increased food production and tree planting for soil conservation. We have been using the water to plant vegetables such as kales, spinach, onions, and tomatoes, which have helped in supplementing our diets during this period."

How has getting food been at this time?

"At the onset of the virus in our country, we had a great harvest which I stored in my granary. Had there been market days, I would sell some of my farm products to get some income. Unfortunately, we had no funds to purchase pesticides. Weevils have destroyed our food in stores, and we are currently facing starvation."

June, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Kyetonye 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 Kyetonye, 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: Kyetonye Community Well

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

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

March, 2019: Kyetonye Community Picture Update

In the most recent update we sent on January 31, we noticed that some of the pictures didn't look quite right. After checking further we found that pictures of another community were mixed in with the correct pictures of Kyetonye! We've fixed the error and have posted the correct pictures. And we're excited to share the community has received their first rainfall which is filling the sand dam and storing water that's accessed via the well and hand pump. Even during the dry parts of the year, Kyetonye will have water.

January, 2019: Kyetonye Community Hand-Dug Well Complete

Kyetonye 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

Construction for this hand-dug well was a big success!

"We are very grateful that the project's construction is complete and we can now enjoy the water attained. We have already begun using the shallow well!" said Jackson Mwasa. "There's a lot of clean water at the shallow well as plenty of water was harnessed by the sand dam due to the recently experienced rains."

The Process:

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

The diameter 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 (go 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.

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.


New Knowledge

The planning of the training was conducted a few weeks prior to the date. Christine Lucas Mutheu, a WASH officer, contacted the field officer in charge of the group to organize and mobilize the group members for the refresher training. Madam Ruth Mwanzia then contacted the group members to inform them on the agreed date and planned for a centrally-based venue in which the training would occur.

The training took place at Teresiah Kilonzo’s homestead. Teresiah is a member of Ivuka self-help group. The homestead is a central venue for all the members and also it's located 10 meters away from their sand dam.

Attendance was great considering this was not our first training with the Ivuka Self-Help Group. Out of the 22 people in the group, 20 members turned up for the training. On this day, the weather was calm and conducive for learning.

The participation levels of the group members were high as all the attendees portrayed immense interest in the topics of discussion.

"The training was great as we were refreshed on a lot of information taught in the previous training which we had forgotten," said Raphael Musyoka.

People attending were trained on topics including:

– cleaning latrines
– water treatment
– waste disposal
– how diseases spread
– how to make soap

The training went on smoothly without any major challenges coming along the way, this made the activity high successful.

Milka Mbithe, a member of this group, took the rest of the members through the demonstration on how to construct a tippy tap while a few members competed to demonstrate to the rest of the members on the handwashing procedure. The competition made the topic interesting and at the end of it all the participants were handwashing experts!

November, 2018: Kyetonye Community Hand-Dug Well Underway

A severe clean water shortage still affects hundreds of people living in Kyetonye. The walk for water is long and tiresome, eating into valuable time that should be spent on income-generating activities. Thanks to your generosity, that's about to change. We’re working to install a clean water point nearby and much more.

Get to know this 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: Kyetonye Community Well

October, 2019

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kyetonye 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!

Kaani community members have plenty of water after their sand dam harvested volumes of water since the previously experienced rains. There has been notable improved hygiene and sanitation as the members can access water easily. Washing clothes, cleaning the latrines, and frequent showers are among the adopted behaviors observed since their sanitation and hygiene training.

On the day of our visit, we found Fridah Mbithe washing clothes near the water source because her home is adjacent to the water source.

"We have daily showers because the water is readily available. I have also adopted to washing my latrine on a daily basis and installing a handwashing facility adjacent to the latrine to ensure everyone who visits the latrine washes their hands," she said to us.

The water is very clean and fresh for drinking. Community members have now also adopted water treatment methods which are favorable to them because most households now have moringa trees planted in their farms. This community has experienced a reduction in cases of waterborne diseases because the water attained is from a protected water source and it is treated at home using the moringa.

"Agribusiness was reserved for only those who had water reservoirs at their homes, but now we can access water to farm easily," explained Pius Kaala.

"We have managed to farm and sell our products in local markets."

The environment here is now fresh and cool. The vegetation is greener and the water table has risen. Most members have utilized the harvested water for farming French beans, kale, spinach, and tomatoes.

"The rains have really [been] delayed this season but the sand dam and well water project has kept us going. We hardly feel the pain. A time like this in the previous years, we would be struggling up and down looking for water but now we can relax, perform our household chores with no pressure," Ms. Mbithe said.

The shallow well provides clean and fresh drinking water which the community members are enjoying. Community members are very happy about this project. People here have improved their living standards and their hygiene and sanitation are impressive, reported our teams after their visit.

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 Kyetonye 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 Kyetonye 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.


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