Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 300 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/23/2024

Project Features

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On an average day for the 470 community members in Syonzale, the women wake up early in the morning to prepare breakfast for the family as the children prepare to go to school. Syonzale is found in a quiet, rural location which has a relatively flat terrain. The households are sparsely populated with large distances between homes. Most people here make a living working as farmers who sell their produce and livestock at the local market.

Before making breakfast, most women will go to fetch water at the best possible source, which usually is the nearest riverbed, depending on the time of the year. Unpredictable rainfall patterns cannot guarantee water for communities year-round as most rivers in the Kitui County are seasonal.

To address this problem here, we are working with the Syiluluku Self-Help Group, which is comprised of 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 in this area.

The self-help group members recently completed their first project with us, but that dam and well alone are not enough to support everyone here. People will have access to water through the first project, but there are still hundreds of people that have to travel long distances to get water.

"The first project is helping provide water to us and it is important for the whole village to have a practical example of a functional project, but we are not where we want to be yet because water shortages are still prevalent in our village and area at large. We remain committed to working on more projects aimed at bringing water close to every household in our locality which will lead to improved lives," said Ngina David.

Kavindu Mutua, a farmer in the community shared similar sentiments about a commitment to bringing water to more people.

"After the implementation of our first water project, it is working well and providing us with clean water for use at the household level," he said.

"We now understand the importance of such a project. We are working hard to jointly implement more projects within the village so that everyone can have easy access to water and improve our lives."

Reliable Water for Syonzale

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 Syonzale 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 Syiluluku 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

May, 2021: Syonzale Community Hand-Dug Well Complete!

Syonzale 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.

Because sometimes it only rains once a year, it could take up to three years 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.

"Water has been brought close to home. I can help mum and will now be able to fetch water many trips after school, which will enable us to improve cleanliness at home through regular washing of clothes and to clean all houses. The pump looks good, and the water comes out quickly," said young Kilonzi M.

We worked with the Syiluluku Rock Catchment Self-Help Group for this project. The members and their families contributed materials and physical labor to complete the project. We trained the group in various skills such as bookkeeping, financial management, project management, group dynamics, and governance. We also 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 to assist them.

Ndainge Mengi

"This water project has brought water close to my family and me. Our grandchildren will now help us get water for household use because it is close to home. That was never possible in the past because of the long distances we traveled to get water," said farmer Ndainge Mengi.

Hand-Dug Well Construction

Construction for this well was a success!

Cement bags

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.

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

Community members help in the construction

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.

Well walls under construction

Once the lining 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.

Well walls nearly done

The mechanics arrive to install the pump as community members watch, learning how to manage simple maintenance tasks for themselves. Finally, the well is 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 to the top of the wall. Until then, people will climb the concrete steps to get their water.

New Knowledge

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 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 site of their current sand dam because they were still constructing this new dam at the time. People chose to come early to work on the dam before the training and also stayed to work after the session was over.

The tippy tap is an activity that is meant to demonstrate the proper handwashing procedure and the critical moments for handwashing. It is also about constructing a cheap and straightforward handwashing facility. During this section, a member who was close to a fence saw a snake sneaking near the training. Immediately she started throwing stones to scare it away. Some people tried to run after and catch the snake, but it got away. This made for a lively and memorable session!

Tippy tap demonstration.

"The training has been excellent. The knowledge taught will be of great benefit to my family and me. I have learned the best practices for how I can help stay healthy through regular handwashing, improved utensil cleanliness, and general hygiene at the household level," shared Myiva Kitonga after the training.

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 to assist them.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

March, 2021: Syonzale Community hand-dug well underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Syonzale Community drains people's 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: Improved Food Security and Health!

June, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Syonzale 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 we installed the sand dam and shallow well in Syonzale, life for community members involved a lot of struggle.

“We experienced a lot of water scarcity issues such as long walks to the river and time wastage because we could spend most of the day searching for water," recalled 53-year-old Mbitha Mwende, the chairperson of the community's Water User Committee.

"Conducting the day’s work was also difficult because a lot of time and energy was spent on looking for water," she continued. "The inadequate water availability also adversely affected our hygiene and sanitation because water had to be used sparingly.”

But since the water projects were installed last year, all that has changed.

“Life is much better now because this water point is close to my home and offers [a] sufficient amount of water," Mbitha explained. "I have even cultivated a kitchen garden at home that I irrigate using water from this implemented project. Our household hygiene and sanitation have also improved, thanks to the project. My health has also improved because of its clean water, unlike the previous scoop holes."

The people of Syonzale no longer need to dig scoop holes into the dry riverbed to access water, which has wrought many positive results for community members.

“It has enabled food security because I can now irrigate vegetables, which was difficult before the construction of this project," Mbitha concluded. "This water point also offers clean water to drink which has improved our health since we are no longer exposed to infections like typhoid, amoeba, dysentery and more related to water from the scoop holes.”

Mbitha collects water with John, another community member.

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 Syonzale 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 Syonzale 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