Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 350 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/15/2024

Project Features

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Nzimba is found on the slopes of the Mumoni hills in Mumoni sub-county, Kitui County.

On an average day for the community members in this region, the women and children 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 goes for water fetching, washes the family’s clothes, tidy up the house, washes utensils and prepares lunch as well as supper for the family.

But without nearby access to a reliable water source, most days are not average in Nzimba. The water source was found on a seasonal river channel more than 3 km from the nearest household. People spend more than 2 hours just to travel to the river, fetch water, and travel home.

For Lucia Musili, a farmer who lives in the community, it means waking up at 4:30 am each day to go and get water.

"It has not been easy taking the long walks in the darkness. This has derailed my personal development as most of the time is spent searching for water," she said.

The river water is an open-source which is accessible to animals and wildlife, it remains exposed to many contaminants all the time. For most of the year, people have to dig holes in the dry riverbed to get the water that is stored in the ground. Some members also visit the source to fetch water using donkeys to help them carry multiple containers. Their presence also further contaminates the water.

"I have suffered from typhoid as a result of using water which is not safe for human consumption," said Mbuli Mutisya, a farmer who also travels the long distance to the river.

The lack of water contributes to other problems. The hygiene and sanitation levels within this community are below average, there is poor water handling, no proper waste disposal through the use of garbage pits and the available latrines demonstrate poor cleanliness standards. Many of these challenges are connected to the lack of water available nearby.

Reliable Water for Nzimba

Our main entry point into Nzimba Community has been the Kasilu Self-Help Group, which is comprised of 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.

Hand-Dug Well</h3>
This particular hand-dug well will be built adjacent to a sand dam project, 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 Nzimba Village and will bring clean water closer to families.

New Knowledge

These community members currently do their best to practice good hygiene and sanitation, but their severe lack of water has been a big hindrance to reaching their fullest potential.

We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with the Kasilu Self-Help Group and other community members to teach about important hygiene practices and daily habits to establish at the personal, household, and community level. This training will help to ensure that participants have the knowledge they need to make the most out of their new water point as soon as water is flowing.

One of the most important topics we plan to cover is the handling, storage, and treatment of water. Having a clean water source will be extremely helpful, but it is useless if water gets contaminated by the time it is consumed. We will also emphasize the importance of handwashing.

We and the community strongly believe that all of these components will work together to improve living standards here, which will help to unlock the potential for these community members to live better, healthier lives.

We typically work with self-help groups for 3 to 5 years on multiple water projects. We will conduct follow-up visits and refresher trainings during this period and remain in contact with the group after all of the projects are completed to support their efforts to improve sanitation and hygiene.

Project Updates

August, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Musili Kyulu

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

During this most recent visit, Musili shared his story of how the coronavirus has impacted his life.

Musili Kyulu

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

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

"My income situation has significantly deteriorated in this time of the coronavirus. I work as an artisan, building houses and making repairs within the local community, but there are no jobs nowadays. Many people are spending the little they get on food and upkeep, leading to a lack of jobs. I have been left to survive on food from my small farm to feed my children."

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

"The government has imposed movement curfews across the country with no movement of people being allowed past 7 PM up to 5 AM. Counties with high cases of the virus have also been locked. No movement is allowed in and out of the counties to control its spread to other areas. The government is also encouraging handwashing and mask-wearing in a bid to control the spread of the 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?

"We just completed the construction of a dam and shallow well within our community. Water is now available in large quantities for all of us and from within. Everyone can walk down to the well and draw water for household use and drinking. This is a great improvement from the previous situation of drawing water from river scoop holes."

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

"The well has clean water. Water is essential in making us adhere to government directives of washing hands with soap and clean water in the fight against coronavirus. Having water from within our village is also helping reduce movement to a distant place, which works well in the fight against the disease."

How has getting food been at this time?

"Now that I am no longer working and earning money, I have depended on the small farm produce harvested from my farm in the last rain season where I harvested maize, cowpeas, and green grams. They have become the main food items in our menu while also being supplemented by cassavas available in the shamba. I have not been able to afford some shopping items obtained from retail outlets because of lack of enough income."

June, 2020: Nzimba Community hand-dug well complete!

Please note, all photos in this report were taken before social distancing recommendations went into effect.

Nzimba 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 out the dam). The dam was built 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!

"I will now be able to access water more easily, and with eased convenience than before. This is because water is now available from within our village without the long walks," said Eunice Makasi.

Eunice Makasi

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

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 dry completely. 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.

"Having water from within our village will be a big boost to my family and me as well as the community at large," said Mwendwa Maithya, a 56-year-old farmer who lives near the dam.

Mwendwa Maithya

"There will be an adequate supply of clean water for drinking, which will lead to improved hygiene and sanitation levels and also lead to healthy people. The time I initially spent on getting water can now be utilized for other activities such as farming and trade."

New Knowledge

The area Field officer for Nguuku/Musosya region Stephen Mwangangi in collaboration with Judith Kituta planned for the training and agreed on the best possible dates. After a date was agreed upon, Mr. Mwangangi informed the community leaders who then told all the community members and invited them for the training. The area assistant chief and village elders were also notified and requested for the training.

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.


The training was held at the New Apostolic Church Nzimba. It had enough space to accommodate all attending members, and the environment was conducive for the training. Being a sunny day, everyone enjoyed the training session. The weather was favorable for everyone, and the training turned out to be a success for the community.

Handwashing demonstration

During the discussion on the causes of malaria, some community members cited tsetse flies as the cause. This created a scene of laughter for a majority of the members in attendance. The misunderstanding was corrected and the people were informed that mosquito bites caused malaria and that tsetse flies caused sleeping sickness. This made the topic one of the most memorable.

"The training has been beneficial and quite informative," said Mutiso Kondo after the training.

"The knowledge on handwashing and construction of a simple tippy tap will lead to improved health levels in our community."

Thank you for making all of this possible!

May, 2020: Nzimba Community hand-dug well underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Nzimba, Kenya drains community members’ time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point 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 Videos

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: Nzimba Community

August, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Nzimba 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!

Before the water point was installed a year ago, Nzimba community members would have to spend two hours a day fetching water. Now, the landscape and the people are thriving.

"The environment around this place was very dry," said Stephen Nthei, a local farmer and community member. "We used to get water from very far away. Now, our personal hygiene has improved. Crops like sweet potatoes are also now surviving until harvest time. This has impacted our nutrition."

With more time and fuel to accomplish goals, Stephen can focus on other personal needs. "Because of the new water point," Stephen continued, "more family time is available, unlike before." Who knew that a sand dam and well in tandem could improve a family man's work-life balance?

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 Nzimba 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 Nzimba 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