Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 130 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/02/2024

Project Features

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Thona Community is found in a peaceful rural setting with characteristic steep slopes and hilly terrain found throughout southeastern Kenya. The area has sparsely distributed vegetation cover as a result of dry conditions experienced in the area. More than 130 people live in this community, but they are spread out from each other since most families make a living through farming. Some people here earn an income through informal labor jobs, as well.

The main water point here is a sand dam and a hand-dug well constructed here last year. However, that alone cannot meet the water needs of all the people here. Many community members still struggle with traveling long distances to access water. This means there is a need for more water projects near their homes to achieve universal water access to all residents of the community.

"Life in our village has been improving since the day we started working with The Water Project. Our first water project came with water and knowledge on some of the best ways to improve our cleanliness levels and avoid diseases in our lives. We need more projects in order to have unlimited water access by everyone in our area," shared Luzy Kanini, a farmer who lives in the community.

On an average day for most of the community members, women and children wake up early in the morning to get ready for the day. The women usually prepare breakfast for the family as the children get ready to go to school. The women or the children will go to fetch water at the best possible source, depending on the time of the year. The men go to the farm to get grass for the livestock and also prepare to run his errands. During the day, the women wash the family's clothes, tidy up the house, cleans utensils, and prepares lunch as well as supper for the family, among other household chores.

For some people here, the time lost to fetching water is significant.

"More water projects are welcome as they will bring water even closer and continue reducing the distances covered and time taken at the water points," said Wanza Ndembei.

Reliable Water for Thona

Our main entry point into Thona Community has been the Ndithi Tuinuke 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 Thona 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 Ndithi Tuinuke 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: Thona Community Well Complete!

Thona 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.

"This sand dam and the shallow well project will help increase access to clean water and water for farming activities to our homes. Our community will now be more water secure. The project is close to my homestead, and access to clean water will now be from a stone's throw distance," said farmer Lucy Kanini.

"I am now in a better position to engage in irrigation farming because water is available in unlimited quantities. I will establish a kitchen garden and help improve my family's eating habits using the available water resources from the project."

Hand-Dug Well

Construction for this well was a success!

We worked with the Ndithi Tuinuke 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 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.

Lining the well walls

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.

"This new water project is like a dream come true. It will bring water close to my family and me. Having easy access to clean water all the time will be good for us as it will lead to improved living standards and improved levels of hygiene and sanitation, especially at times like now during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Wanza Ndemmbei.

"I am looking forward to improved income generation through poultry and livestock farming because my chicken and animal population will have easy access to water from the new water points."

New Knowledge

The area Field Officer Patrick Musyoka was in charge of community mobilization for the training. He called the self-help group chairperson and notified him of the date of the training. All community group members were invited for the training alongside local community leaders.

Patrick 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 community members chose to have their training at the local shopping center called Ndithi. The training was done in a commercial plot built by the community group.

A notable topic during the training was latrines. Latrine construction at home is emphasized since open defecation is one factor leading to diarrheal diseases. During a follow-up that our team did in 2019 at almost all the self-help group member's homesteads, it was noted that there happened to be a member who did not have a latrine. The member was encouraged to construct a latrine but never did it.

During this training, the member testified that he came to learn that open defecation can make someone sick. He said that this pushed him to construct a latrine. Members were impressed by his decision and found the topic memorable.

Soap making

“The hygiene training has been of great importance to us in so many ways. Since we first attended the training, a lot of positive changes have been experienced. Waterborne diseases have reduced, people in our area that did not have latrines have constructed latrines, and implementation of other sanitation infrastructures has been done," shared Nzambi Mysyoka.

"Today's refresher has woken us up, and it will really help us much since it has reminded us where we have fallen as far as hygiene and sanitation is concerned. Handwashing stations in most homes at the gate were not functional, but now we are going to fix them."

Mixing soap

Thank you for making all of this possible!

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

A severe clean water shortage at Thona 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 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.

A Year Later: A Healthier Lifestyle!

May, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Thona 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!

Munyao M., 15, shared the challenges he faced before we installed Thona community's well last year.

“I had to walk several kilometers in search of water after classes daily and arrived home late in the evening. This left me [with] negligible time and energy to focus on my studies, thus leading to poor grades," said Munyao.

Not only did Munyao's academic performance suffer, but other areas of his life as well. "Practicing my personal hygiene and sanitation was also impossible since the little water had to be sparingly used at home. The water from the borehole was salty; thus, unsuitable for drinking or cooking but we had [to] bear with it because that was the only water available,” he said.

But things are different now. “I now get adequate time and energy to strive for better academic performance because the water point is nearby," said Munyao. "Our goats and cattle are also healthy because the water is adequate and close by; thus, they offer better yields and market prices. My personal hygiene and sanitation have also thrived since this implemented project avails adequate water."

"I am now leading a healthy lifestyle because this water point offers clean water to drink, which does not expose me to water-based and hygiene-related infections like stomach aches, typhoid, and COVID-19,” he concluded.


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 Thona 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 Thona 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