Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Dec 2019

Functionality Status:  Low/No Water or Mechanical Breakdown

Last Checkup: 03/21/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

"The lack of sufficient water has really affected us as a community as we don't have access to clean water for drinking," said Mary Mwania during our recent visit to Kathuli, Kenya.

The community is located in the larger Mwingi region, which is mostly semi-arid and sparsely populated region some 2.5 km from the nearest highway. Our teams had to travel that distance by foot because there is no road for cars. Kamumbuni Village is thinly vegetated, with most of the vegetation comprised of hardy bushes and thickets along the seasonal river.

That sandy, seasonal river is responsible for providing water for the more than 1,000 people living here. But there is only one rainy season, meaning that the river is dry for most of the year. Community members can travel 3 km to the nearest sand dam to collect water from scoop holes, but that requires owning donkeys to carry the heavy water such a long distance. Others scramble to find water in deep scoop holes from the dried up riverbed or purchase water from vendors.

All of these water options share a common problem - they are unsafe for drinking.

Waterborne diseases are common here, said Mrs. Mwania. She added that women spend a lot of their time fetching water rather than doing things like farming or attending to other family needs.

"I feel with easier access to water I would use most of my time tending the farm and growing vegetables," she said.

Most of the community members are peasant farmers living in clusters with their extended families. In most cases, the men are the heads of the family. A large portion of the women are also work to earn an income. Some of them seek casual labor opportunities as a way to supplement the family income.

Our main entry point into Kathuli Community has been the Kamumbuni Self-Help Group, which is comprised of local 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.

What we can do:


We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with Kamumbuni Self-Help Group, which are also open to non-members. These will teach about important hygiene practices and daily habits to establish in the community at the personal and household levels. Taking good care of self and environment will make for a healthy community.

Most households have poor compound hygiene and their general hygiene and sanitation standards are low. In relation to this, they need improvement on compound hygiene, effective water treatment methods, handwashing training, soap making lessons and knowledge of disease transmission routes. The members of this group seem to have little knowledge on hygiene and sanitation. This also exposes them to risks of contracting diseases such as cholera, typhoid, diarrhea and stomachaches.

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

Project Updates

July, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Kathuli 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 Kathuli, 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.

December, 2019: Kathuli Community Hand-Dug Well Complete

Kathuli 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.

Hand-Dug Well

Construction for this well was a success!

We worked with the Kamumbuni Self-Help Group for this project. The members and their families contributed materials and physical labor to complete the project. 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 to help 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.

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.

The biggest challenge the community members faced during this process was getting the water needed for construction. The water was being drawn from more than 3 miles away. This greatly slowed down the pace of construction, illustrating the effort people here must undertake to get water and why this project will have such an immense and immediate impact on their lives. They persisted through the challenge, however, and the well finally came to fruition.

"We are very happy to have been blessed by God through this water project support. Water problems in our community are prevalent and it is the hope of everyone that this project will help solve the current water challenges we are going through," said Marth Kimanzi.

"Adequate access to water will make our locality vibrant both with life and economically."

A hole 7 feet in diameter is 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 feet.)

The diameter shrinks to 5 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 is 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. 4 bolts for the hand-pump are fixed on the slab during casting. The concrete needs to dry for 2 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. 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 hygiene and sanitation training with members of the self-help group and community members was organized by the field officer in charge of the Mbondoni area, Daniel Kituku. He communicated the day of the training at the site of sand dam construction as the members were working on the completion of the dam. The area village administrator was also informed on the planned training and invited community members to participate.

Attendance was as expected. All self-help group members turned up for the training as informed by the regional Field Officer, and other community members who are not part of the group felt the need to be part of the training as well and attended to get the knowledge being shared. The area assistant chief and village administrator also came.

The venue of the training was scheduled to be hosted in the homestead of Ruth Kilyungi, where all members agreed it was easy to access. The weather on days 1 and 2 was cold and windy, while on day 3 it was sunny. The level of participation was very good. The participants were always in a good mood, engaging each other while brainstorming and asking the trainer numerous questions.

The trainer conferred with the field staff about their previous visits to households and interviews with community members to determine which topics the community still could improve upon.

They decided to train on topics including health problems in the community; good and bad hygiene behaviors; how diseases spread and their prevention; choosing sanitation improvements; choosing improved hygiene behaviors; planning for behavioral change; handwashing; and soapmaking.

“This training will help us improve on our behavior and especially to reduce open defecation. We want to make our area an open defecation-free zone. It is a very important training that will trigger improvement on personal hygiene and good practices at home that will help us prevent the spread of diseases," said Martha Kimanzi.

One of the activities that stood out here was soapmaking. The attendees said that it was a special lesson to them because they learned new ideas that they had never before learned from anyone. They also appreciated the idea by saying that it was the best and the easiest way of generating income and improving hygiene.

This group of people seemed to immediately adopt the new behaviors taught, said our field staff afterward. We already witnessed discussions they were having after training about improving the hygiene of their area by stopping open defecation. With the assistance of the village administrator and the area assistant chief, we are hopeful that open defecation will stop and the protection of water at home will be done. If the action plan prepared by the entire group is followed, then the impact will be great.

"Once these changes are made, the issues of the common diseases in our area that have been a problem for years will reduce, thus reducing expenses incurred when seeking treatment," Mrs. Kimanzi said.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

November, 2019: Kathuli Community project underway!

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

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 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: Kathuli Community

February, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kathuli 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 used to get water from river scoop holes along this river, the water was not always clean and sometimes it had a color and a bad smell, at other times mum would walk to the Earth dam to fetch water using donkeys, it is far, and only my elder brother would help her since it was far for the other young ones and me. It was not always easy getting enough water for all the needs at home," said 13-year-old Kitonga K.

"Getting water has been made easier for the many children of this village because the project is located close to our homesteads. I only walk to the well with a 10-liter container and fetch several times while mum is engaged in other activities. Now I can take a daily shower and also keep most of my clothes clean because I can get enough water for such activities."


"This water point has made me be fully included in the water fetching process because it is near. Initially, it was only mum and my elder siblings involved because of the long distances. The availability of enough clean water helps me maintain high hygiene and sanitation levels while also appreciating the importance of having a clean water supply all year round from the facility."

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 Kathuli 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 Kathuli 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.