Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 456 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2019

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/04/2024

Project Features

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Our main entry point into Mwau Community is the Kianguni 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 are our hands and feet in both constructing water projects and spreading the message of good hygiene and sanitation to everyone.

We have worked with this group for the past three years to ensure that every person has access to reliable water close to home. While our work together has helped improve accessibility for many people here, there are still households that have to travel too far to get water each day.

It is a physical strain for the members who live far from the water source as they have to walk for long distances and the terrain is not very friendly. Some also opt to fetch water from the river directly to avoid the hustle of getting to the shallow well. If they fetch water directly from the river, the water is not clean for direct consumption as it's exposed to very many contaminants.

"The paths leading to the sand dams are sloped and the terrain is rough which is risky as people are exposed to risks of injuries," said Anastacia Wambua. "The strain in accessing clean water at times forces us to use other sources or purchase water from water vendors who often take advantage of us and deliver dirty water which is often contaminated." Mrs. Wambua's long walk for water has exacerbated these challenges.

That is why we are supporting the construction of a third sand dam and hand-dug well here - to bring water closer to hundreds more people like Mrs. Wambua.

What we will do:

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


Kianguni Self-Help Group and Mwau Community have participated in training sessions that teach about important hygiene practices and daily habits to establish in their homes. Taking good care of themselves and their environment will make for a healthy community.

"Hygiene and sanitation in our homesteads have improved greatly following the training we have been receiving," said Teresia Kabali.

"My children have adopted a handwashing culture, which is an improvement from how we used to live. Our latrines are washed often and we have installed tippy taps near them as well. Fewer cases of diseases have been reported too."

There has been progress, but training is still necessary to ensure continued improvement.

Most homesteads practice high levels of hygiene and sanitation; they safely dispose of garbage, they use latrines and wash their hands after use, proper hand washing habits have been reinforced as most of the members have constructed tippy taps near the latrines. However, this group needs refresher training on soap making as it will go a long way in benefiting the group members.

Community Background

Mwau village is based in a rural set up which is peaceful and relatively vegetated. The buildings throughout the area are a mixture of new and old structures, made of either brick or made of mud and thatched grass roofing. The homesteads are sparsely populated because most families own large pieces of land.

A recent survey conducted in the area deduced that 68% of the community members carry out casual labor as their main source of income, which involves doing odd jobs on other people’s businesses or farms in order to get money. This is regardless of the level of education of the respondent. Only 14% of the respondents reported farming as their main source of income in large part due to the fact that it is very tough to consistently grow crops in this semi-arid region of Kenya.

On an average day for the community members, the women wake up at 6:00 am, go to fetch water, prepare breakfast for the family as the children prepare to go to school. The man, on the other hand, wakes up to go to the farm to get Napier grass for the livestock and also prepare to run his errands. During the day, the woman washes the family’s clothes, tidies up the house, washes utensils and prepares lunch as well as supper for the family. However, in this community, the parents are older and leave the children to do most of the tasks. They go to the farm, take the goats to search for pasture, fetch the water, prepare meals, and some also go to school.

Project Updates

September, 2019: Mwau Community Well Complete!

Mwau Community, Kenya now has a new source of water thanks to your donation. A hand-dug well was constructed adjacent to a sand dam (go here to check it out). The dam was constructed on the riverbed, which will build up sand to raise the water table and naturally filter water. Recent rains have helped the dam begin to build up sand and store water.

It could take up to 3 years of rain (because sometimes it only rains once a year!) for this sand dam to reach maximum capacity. As the sand dam matures and stores more sand, a supply of water will be available for drinking from the well. With this water, the surrounding landscape will become lush and fertile.

Construction for this well was a success!

We worked with the Kianguni Self-Help Group for this project. The members and their families contributed materials and physical labor to complete the projects. In addition, they were trained on various skills such as bookkeeping, financial management, project management, group dynamics, and governance. We also conducted a hygiene and sanitation training to teach skills like soapmaking and improve behaviors such as handwashing.

When an issue arises concerning the water project, the group members are equipped with the necessary skills to rectify the problem and ensure it works appropriately. However, if the issue is beyond their capabilities, they can contact our team of field officers to assist them.

"The water project is going to be very helpful to the community members. The water point will be easily accessible to 100% of the community members and this will make life easier for us," said Janet Katuvi, a local farmer.

Hand-Dug Well Construction 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 7 feet in diameter was excavated up to a recommended depth of 25 feet. (Most hand-dug wells do not reach that depth due to the existence of hard rocks between 10-18 ft.).

The diameter shrunk to 5 feet when construction of the hand-dug well lining was 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 reached ground level, a precast concrete slab was laid on top and joined to the wall using mortar. 4 bolts for the hand-pump were fixed on the slab during casting. The concrete needed to dry for 2 weeks before the pump was installed.

The mechanics arrived to install the pump as community members watched, learning how to manage simple maintenance tasks for themselves.

The well was 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. As the dam matures, sand will build up to the top of the wall. Until then, people will climb the concrete steps to get their water.

New Knowledge

The planning of the training was done by field officer Rhoda Mwangu and sanitation and hygiene officer Veronica Matolo. Rhoda communicated to the group's chairperson in a bid to mobilize for the members' attendance. An agreement was reached and the members selected a central venue where the training would be conducted.

Since this is a group we have worked with in the past, the trainer conferred with the field staff about their visits to households and interviews with community members to determine which topics they still wanted to improve. The hygiene and sanitation refresher training attendance was as expected as it was attended by 21 members. The community members were excited about the training as expressed in their commitment and availability. Even the new members were present because they wanted to learn.

The weather was very fair and conducive for the training as it was windy in the morning hours and relatively sunny in the afternoon. The training was held at Isaac Ndunge's homestead, a member of the group. The environment was conducive for learning despite having only a few trees to shelter the participants.

The level of participation was high as the members were conversant with most topics of discussions. Members listed the topics which they needed refreshing on and this contributed to a lively audience. There were many questions asked and they willingly participated in the activities of the day. Each member was active and attentive throughout the training. It was very enjoyable.


Topics covered included water treatment, preparation of disinfectants, soapmaking, and fecal-oral disease transmission.

The first topic of discussion was water treatment, the process of removing impurities and contaminants to make the water fit for drinking. The community members were taught the different effective methods of water treatment such as boiling, use of moringa tree seeds, chlorination, and the Solar Disinfectant Method.

"The training has been very educative and it will help us in improving the hygiene and sanitation of our homesteads and latrines," said Urbanus Munyao.

"Waterborne diseases will also reduce because we are aware of the effective water treatment methods. We spent a lot of money treating such diseases but with the information we have now, we are sure to maintain good health statuses for ourselves and our families."

Thank you for making all of this possible!

July, 2019: Mwau Community Hand-Dug Well Underway

We have worked with Kianguni Self-Help Group for the past three years to ensure that every person has access to reliable water close to home. While our work together has helped improve accessibility for many people here, there are still households that have to travel too far to get water each day.

Thanks to your generosity, we're able to build a hand-dug well down the riverbed to bring water to even more people. Get to know this community through the narrative and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation, and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out again with news of success!

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: Mwau Community

February, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mwau 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!

"Getting water has always been a hard task for us here at home. Before, we would walk for long distances to fetch water when our parents sent us. It would take up a lot of our time as we would find long queues and we had to wait for elders to finish for us to get our turns. Personally, I did not fancy these chores because they were exhausted, and we did not have to play or read. We would fall sick as a result of drinking this water; sicknesses such as typhoid, diarrhea, and stomach aches," said 13-year-old Kelvin K.

"Now, there's a lot of water at the water projects. When my mum sends me to fetch water, I do it very fast because the water source is near and user-friendly. I actually really enjoy the task of fetching water. At times I do it willingly before my mum sends me. These days I have time to study and play with my friends and younger siblings. The water is very fresh to drink. We rarely get sick these days."


"The presence of this water point around has enabled me to have sufficient time to study and excel in my examinations, which makes my parents very proud. I have also learned how to wash my clothes as it's a duty that my siblings and I are currently learning."

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 Mwau 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 Mwau 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