Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 300 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/10/2024

Project Features

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King'ethesyoni is a village found in Kitui County of Southeastern Kenya. It is a hilly region covered in trees planted by the 417 community members living here. The surrounding area is made of grazing land and farmland.

The only water source for community members here is open river scoop holes. These are holes people dig by hand ranging from several inches to several feet in depth until water seeps in that they can then scoop into their water containers. Scoop holes are open to all sorts of contaminants and are widely shared by human beings and livestock alike.

Out of the community members present at the time of our most recent survey from this area, 3 people reported that they had fallen sick in the last 6 months suffering from waterborne diseases. Their illnesses were attributed to either drinking contaminated water, improper handling of drinking water, or poor personal hygiene practices at home. Others reported having their children suffer from water-related diseases such as dysentery and typhoid.

Sometimes the water is murky with sand and mud, but the community members have almost no other water sources to choose from. Irregular rainfall patterns cannot guarantee water for communities year-round, and most rivers in the Kitui County are seasonal. The time spent fetching the unsafe scoop hole water increases as the dry season progresses.

"Water challenges in our community have been so severe it has almost become a culturally accepted norm. Getting water sometimes has been taking half of my day's time only to end up with dirty water unsafe for human consumption which is not even enough for my family needs," said Isaac Mutua, a local farmer.

The responsibility of fetching water often falls on women and children. We also spoke with Monica Mbuvi, a mother who gets up early each day just to get water for her family.

"We have really suffered as women of this locality in the plight of persistent water problems," she said.

"I have been forced to sometimes wake up early in the morning with my children to go looking for water more than 3 kilometers (~2 miles) away from home. It is always risky in the dark."

Reliable Water for King'ethesyoni

Our main entry point into King'ethesyoni Community has been the Katambu 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

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 King'ethesyoni 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 Katambu Self-Help Group and other community members to teach about important hygiene practices and daily habits to establish at the personal, household, and community levels. 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 the 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

February, 2021: King'ethesyoni Community Well Complete!

King'ethesyoni 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 three 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 water supply will be available for drinking from the well. With this water, the surrounding landscape will become lush and fertile.

"We are happy to have been beneficiaries of this amazing water project. The project will help me have enough clean water at home, which will lead to improved hygiene and sanitation levels. It will also provide enough water for use at home for my family and children without the big struggle experienced before," said Gideon Nguli.

Gideon at the dam.

"I am planning to start irrigation farming on a large scale because water is available unlimitedly. I will be growing vegetables for my family and to sell in the nearby markets, which will earn me income to sustain my family needs."

Hand-Dug Well

Construction for this well was a success!

We worked with the Katambu 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. Additionally, we conducted 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 field officers' team 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 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 stored behind the dam.

Once the lining construction 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 for 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 dry the joints 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.

"I am happy that clean water has been brought close to us through this water project. It will now be available from a stone's throw distance. There will be no more struggles of walking for long distances with donkeys searching for water from river scoop holes, which was not always clean. I look forward to a more healthy and smooth life without many water struggles," said Agnes Ngandi.

"Through the availability of enough water from this water project, I will always use my free time to draw water and use it to plant more fruit trees in our home farm and irrigate using the available water resources. It will be good because, after maturity, the fruits will be good for our consumption and to sell to others."

New Knowledge

All Katambu Self-Help Group members were informed of the need for hygiene and sanitation training after completing their sand dam's and shallow well's construction. Group members were required to attend the training alongside other interested community members. Through the area Field Officer Paul Musau and the WASH Officer Veronica MAtolo, the community was notified of the training date.

The training was held at one of the self-help group member's homesteads, Gideon Nguli. It was chosen for its central location, making it easily accessible to all with the availability of enough outdoor space to accommodate all the group members.

The attendance was as expected. Out of a possible 18 community group members, 17 of them consistently turned up for the community event. This was attributed to the timely communication before the training date, with all members being able to receive the communication in good time.

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

Tippy tap construction was one of the more notable topics during the training. Members said it was interesting because it is an easy infrastructure to construct that is affordable to all since it does not require any implementation. People were encouraged to go home and make their own handwashing stations.

"This training has imparted us with enough knowledge on our daily behaviors and how they affect us. For instance, washing fruits with running water has always been taken for granted, contributing to the transmission of diseases. Still, since we have learned the right way of washing them, we will start the practice and prevent disease transmission," said Ndana Kalele.

Handwashing demonstration

"We will start generating income from soap-making and improve meeting our basic needs at home. The knowledge on handwashing will also be critical during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic as it will help prevent the spread of the virus."

Thank you for making all of this possible!

January, 2021: King'ethesyoni Community hand-dug well underway!

Community members in King'ethesyoni do not have a reliable source for water. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point in the community 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.

A Year Later: A Thriving Farm with Cattle-Rearing!

March, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help King'ethesyoni 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 sand dam and shallow well were constructed in Gideon's community, life was difficult. Since we spoke to him last year when the projects were completed, his life has improved dramatically.

"We experienced water scarcity because this is area is semi-arid and the nearby rivers are seasonal," Gideon explained. "We used to walk over five kilometers to [the] nearest waterpoint. We also lacked water sufficient water for both human and cattle consumption. Another challenge was the lack [of] sufficient water for household activities due to [the] lengthy dry seasons."

Now, Gideon invests all that previously wasted time into his farm and into keeping his family healthy.

"I now spend less time looking for water because the water point is nearby and offers a steady supply of water, even during the dry months. This has allowed me to focus on other developmental activities such as farming and rearing cattle," he said.

"It also allowed to achieve higher hygiene and sanitation standards because I get enough water to practice good hygiene practices. This has helped keep off diseases such as COVID-19."

Now that his farm and his family's health are improving, he can focus on other things, like cultivating more trees, which will help to increase the region's rainfall. "I can now plant trees because of the sand dam’s water availability, which will change my environment in the long term."


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 King'ethesyoni 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 King'ethesyoni 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 - Lifeplus Foundation