Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 300 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/03/2024

Project Features

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On an average day in Mbitini, Kenya, women and children wake up early in the morning to start the day. The women prepare breakfast for the family as the children get ready for school. The men, on the other hand, wake up to go to the farm to get Napier grass for the livestock. They also prepare to run errands.

When the men and children are off, the women then go to fetch water in the best possible source depending on the time of the year.

The main water sources for this group of people are scoop holes dug in the nearest river bed. During the dry season, some people spend more than 2 hours each day fetching water because they have to travel to river beds that are farther away. The time lost to fetching water each day is a great burden on some families.

“Getting water is always hard here, especially during the driest months of the year. I have been caught up in the water scarcity mess, sometimes ending up using muddy water for drinking and cooking," said Esther Mutua, a 45-year-old farmer.

"On other occasions, fetching water becomes a day-long affair that leaves no time to engage in other income-generating activities."

The sources are open and a majority of locals travel with donkeys to help carry the water back home. The surrounding environment is littered with donkey waste which exposes the water to an array of contaminants.

Drinking this dirty water causes a variety of health problems. Community members reported complications including stomach problems, dysentery, and typhoid which were all linked to the use of water from the open river sources.

“The prevailing water conditions have been detrimental to our lives as people living in this locality. Available water sources do not provide clean water and they are found very far from us," said Daniel Mwangangi, a farmer in the community.

"This has led to long walks in search of water. It totally compromises our hygiene standards while also exposing us to disease outbreaks.”

Hygiene and sanitation standards within the community were described as "below average" by our field officers. They observed that the majority of the households they visited exhibited poor water handling, low latrine hygiene standards, and no traces of water treatment.

After arriving home with the water, the day continues for the women in the community with household chores such as washing clothes and preparing lunch for when the children and men take a break. The women will help with the farm in the afternoon if there is time. Many families rely on farming to make a living and grow some of the food that they eat. Some of the men will work informal labor jobs in the nearby larger towns or work in the capital city of Nairobi and send money back home to their families.

The day comes to an end with dinner, cooked by the female head of the household. Everyone then retires to bed to rest up for a new day to begin.

Reliable Water for People in Mbitini

Our main entry point into Mbitini Community has been the Mathyakani 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 all community members in this area.

Hand-Dug Well

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 within Mbitini Village and will bring clean water to nearby families that must currently walk long distances to get water.

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 Mathyakani 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

October, 2020: Mbitini Community hygiene training complete!

New Knowledge

The training was planned by hygiene and sanitation officer Judith Kituta in collaboration with the area field officer Benedetta Makau through consultations with the community members. A date was agreed upon and then communicated back to the community members invited to the training.

Soap making at the training (before physical distancing)

Judith conferred with Benedetta about her 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.

Handwashing demonstration (before physical distancing).

The group lacked a building that could have hosted all the attendees. That prompted the use of shade from trees near the sand dam construction site to accommodate the training. The surrounding trees provided enough shade for the training to go on smoothly with minimum interruptions.

On the last day of the training, there was a soap making exercise, an activity that is always aimed at improving the whole community's hygiene and sanitation. Members attended and participated very well. They were very willing to learn the different procedures.

Community mapping (before physical distancing).

During the topic, community members found it to be a unique activity. They learned that making soap is easy, and it can help cut the cost of paying for soap while also creating an income-earning opportunity. The men were surprised that the women were so good at stirring all the chemicals to make the soap. The women laughed and challenged the men to help with the cooking at home if they wanted practice mixing for long periods.

"As a community, we will be in a position to transform our entire community into a better dwelling place through practicing good hygiene and sanitation," said James Vugu, a local farmer.

"Having known the common diseases in our area, we will be in a position to change our eating habits, and in case of any illness, we seek the doctor's attention the soonest possible. We will keep our catchment areas out of bound of animals to secure our water sources from any source of pollutants."

Thank you for making all of this possible!

May, 2020: Mbitini Community hand-dug well construction complete!

Mbitini 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 will be constructed on the riverbed, which will build up sand to raise the water table and naturally filter water. Due to heavy rains, the dam construction was delayed and will be completed soon.

When the dam is complete, it can 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.

The delay in the dam construction means that we have not held our hygiene and sanitation training with this community. We will be sure to reach back out to you with more news and photos from the training.

Hand-Dug Well

Construction for this well was a success!

We worked with the Mathyakani 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.

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 ft.).

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.

April, 2020: Mbitini Community hand-dug well underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Mbitini, 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 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.

A Year Later: More Time, Better Hygiene

September, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mbitini 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 asked 12-year-old Purity what it was like before this well was installed in her community. The biggest impact on her life was school attendance. "Sometimes, I'd even miss school days for me to stay at home and watch my siblings, as my mother would go to fetch water for long hours."
But now, Purity rarely misses school. And hygiene has improved, not just for her personally, but all over the community.

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 Mbitini 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 Mbitini 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 - Good Start Packaging