Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 350 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/09/2024

Project Features

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Mathanguni community is in a rural area of southeastern Kenya. Its nearly 1,300 community members make a living as farmers. Our team visited the area during the wet season, and the environment was lush and green due to the recent rains. However, during the dry season, the landscape is usually grey with many withered crops. House structures in this area are made of brick and use an iron sheet for the roof.

On an average day, the women wake up at around 6 am to prepare their children for school and cook breakfast for their families. When everyone leaves, they undertake their household duties such as washing clothes, cleaning their houses, cleaning utensils, and taking their livestock for grazing. Once the water in the homestead runs out, they have to walk to the nearest water sources to fetch water. For some people here, the trip to the water source takes around an hour each way. This consumes a lot of their time, and it's very exhausting for them.

The community has a sand dam and hand-dug well that they constructed last year. However, the single water source is not close enough to everyone who lives here. The project provides a reliable source of water, but it is still a burden on many families here. Some people will still go to the open scoop holes in the river beds to get water to avoid the long walk. While this saves time, it exposes families to waterborne diseases found in open water sources.

"We have been affected a lot by the challenges of water. The water we attain from the open sources have been making our children ill because they often complain of stomach aches and diarrhea," said Lydia Muteti, a farmer who lives in the community.

Insufficient water supply contributes to poverty as the members mostly rely on farming, and without water, they may lack food to sustain them. It is time-consuming walking to the water sources as it deprives them of time spent on income-generating activities.

"At times, we have to buy jerrycans of water from the families with donkeys, and it is usually expensive," Lydia explained.

Reliable Water for Mathanguni

Our main entry point into Mathanguni Community has been the Kakwa 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 Mathanguni 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 Kakwa 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

April, 2021: Mathanguni Community Well Complete!

Mathanguni 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 for this sand dam to reach maximum capacity because sometimes it only rains once a year. 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.

There was no official celebration conducted to dedicate the water point due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the community members expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the support granted in constructing the water point. They stated that it would be helpful to them in providing access to clean drinking water and water for irrigation purposes.

"We are now accessing water easily, and we do not have to walk for long distances as we used to. We have plenty of water for farming, watering the trees, for our livestock, and for drinking as well. My life has become more comfortable than it was before," said farmer Benson Matata.

"I plan to plant vegetables for sale and domestic use. I had planted trees in my homestead. Now I will add more trees as there is plenty of water for use on this project."

Hand-Dug Well

Construction for this well was a success!

"Access to reliable and safe water has helped me. Our livestock can get water within a short range of distance near my home. I can now fetch water easily with minimal strain, which ensures the household duties assigned to me are completed on time," said teenager Samuel.

Samuel at the well.

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

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 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. Our team installed the pump 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

We informed the self-help group members of the need for a hygiene and sanitation refresher training after completing their fourth sand dam and shallow well project construction. They were required to attend the training alongside other interested community members.

The field officer in charge of the Matiliku region, Jeff Maluki, notified them of the training date after scheduling with WASH officer Christine Lucas. 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.

The training venue was at one of the self-help group member’s homesteads. It was chosen for its central location, making it easily accessible to all the members. The availability of enough outdoor space that could accommodate all the participants made the venue very suitable. The homestead was also located approximately 100 meters away from their fourth sand dam and shallow well project, enabling the participants to easily access water for use during the training.

All the members were interested in stirring the soap during the soapmaking exercise. They took turns in stirring and were very patient until the soap was done. The members agreed to sell liquid soap. The self-help group will use the profit generated from this project for the benefit of the group. The members would buy additional materials at Matiliku town.

This topic was interesting because, in stirring the soap, there arose a discussion on how to bake a cake whereby one of the members explained to the rest that one is not supposed to change the stirring direction when baking a cake. This discussion helped the participants understand more about why we only stir in one direction when making the liquid soap as well.

Mixing the soap.

"The soapmaking training has been very helpful to me as I can now make soap and disinfectant, which helps improve the hygiene and sanitation standards at home," said Grace Kilisya.

Mixing chemicals to make soap

While demonstrating how diarrheal diseases are spread, a donkey that belonged to the host of the training started braying by making the “heehaw” sound. The donkey was noisy and interrupted the training session. The training stopped for a while as the attention of the members was diverted to the donkey. The donkey owner had to calm it down by giving it some water to drink.

"The training has been an eye-opener to me. I have learned how human excretion can get back to our bodies when disposed of inappropriately and make us sick. I will encourage my family members, especially my grandchildren, always to use the latrine to avoid contracting diarrheal diseases," shared Grace.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

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

A severe clean water shortage at Mathanguni Community drains peoples’ 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: "It's Like Magic."

May, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mathanguni 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 13-year-old student Muuo to tell us about his life before we completed the construction of the sand dam and shallow well in his community.

“Before the construction of this project, life was very hard," said Muuo. "We used to get water from very far [away] and the water was not very safe for drinking. We did not have enough water for maintaining our hygiene and sanitation as well as for watering our trees and other crops on the farm.”

But now, things are different. Muuo's family has a thriving farm and enough water to keep themselves and their homes clean.

A view of the family farm.

“Now, I enjoy fetching water from this shallow well," Muuo continued. "It feels like magic to me, as it's very convenient. I am very happy about this project and the source has made me realize the goodness of having clean water near us.”

Finally, we asked Muuo about his plans for the future now that water is no longer among his worries.

“When I grow up, I plan to cultivate my own farm using water from this project to improve my life," he said. "I plan to plant kales and tomatoes for sale.”

Muuo stands at the spout while a community member pumps water.

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 Mathanguni 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 Mathanguni 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