Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 350 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/06/2024

Project Features

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The average day for the 1,830 people living in Kithalani, Kenya, begins at 6:00 am when the women and children wake up to fetch water. The main water source here is the Kithalani and Tyaa rivers. People travel between one and two miles to reach the rivers. Then, they dig scoop holes in the river bed to fill their containers with water.

The scoop holes are open water sources shared by human beings and livestock including cows, goats, and donkeys because of their proximity to grazing fields.

A majority of community members in this locality rely on small-scale farming for domestic needs. They grow crops such as maize, cowpeas, pigeon peas, and green grams, relying on natural rainfall to water their crops. Many others have also invested in rearing goats and cows, with the scale depending on the size of their land.

"For many years, water has been a challenge to our community. We majorly rely on scoop holes that have provided us with unsafe water for family consumption," said Pius Kyalo, a farmer in the community.

When the containers are full, the women and children walk home. For most families, it takes an hour to fetch water. Oftentimes, the morning trip to fetch water is not the only trip of the day.

"Fetching water in our community has always been a full-time affair which has to be done daily due to a lack of reliable water sources. Especially for us women, who are traditionally tasked with the work, it is such a tedious task, but we always have limited options," shared Angelina Kimanzi.

During the day, the women wash their families’ clothes, tidy the house, wash utensils, and prepare lunch for the family. Depending on the size of the family and water needs, many women and children may be required to travel back to the water source multiple times to get water for their use at home.

"At my home, my wife and children almost go to fetch water daily, which really takes up most of their time," Pius said.

Reliable Water for Kithalani

Our main entry point into KithalaniCommunity has been the Lenza Mukuyuni Self-Help Group, which comprises households working together to address water and food scarcity in their region. These members will be our hands and feet in 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 our artisans and mechanics' guidance, 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 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 hindered reaching their fullest potential.

We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with the 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 ensure that participants know 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 handling, storing, and treating 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.

The community and we 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 three to five years on multiple water projects. We will conduct follow-up visits and refresher training 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: Kithalani Community Hand-Dug Well Complete!

Kithalani 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.

"I am happy that the water project has been completed successfully and already holds water from within the village. It is a big win in the water fetching process. I will no longer walk for long distances in search of water like it has been the case in the past," said David Musyoka.

Because sometimes it only rains once a year, it could take up to three years of rain 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 new water point has brought water close to all of us. The dam and well already hold water and the happiness is overwhelming. The long distances in search of water for household use and our cattle will now be long gone in the wake of this amazing water project," said Esther K.

Hand-Dug Well

Construction for this well was a success!

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. We installed the pump 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

We worked with the Lenza Mukunyuni 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.

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.

The training was held at the site where construction of their new dam was ongoing. Members thought that because they were still constructing their dam, it would be convenient for the training to be done here so that early in the morning before the training, they could do some little work as well as later in the evening after the training. The venue had shade provided by the surrounding big trees.

The facilitators 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.

"This training will bring a positive impact in our lives since the knowledge we have gained will help us improve our hygiene. For instance, we will prevent diseases by observing all the hygiene measures that have been taught to us like water treatment, handwashing with soap, protecting our water sources from sanitation infrastructures like latrines, and using an improved tippy tap, unlike the ones that we have been constructing," said Esther Kamene.

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: Kithalani Community hand-dug well underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Kithalani 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: Less Walking Time to Water!

July, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kithalani 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!

Ten-year-old Mercy described what life was like for her before a well was installed in her community last year. "I had to accompany my parents to the scoop holes under the burning sun for several kilometers because I also had to carry water to school as requested by the school’s administration."

She continued, "The water was mostly contaminated and salty because it was acquired from open scoop holes and a dug well. This exposed me to infections such as amoeba, stomachaches, and typhoid. Since we had to use water sparingly at home, my personal hygiene and sanitation [were] negatively affected."

But things are different for Mercy and her fellow community members now.

"Getting water from this implemented water point is a great reprieve because I no longer have to walk several kilometers searching for water, thanks to its proximity to the community," said Mercy. "I also do not have to wake up during early morning hours with my parents to search for water."

"Hygiene and sanitation have improved at home because there is sufficient water to bathe, [and] wash garments and utensils. Apart from improved hygiene and sanitation, drinking clean water has reduced the risk of contracting infections like [an] amoeba, typhoid, and dysentery," concluded Mercy. "My improved academic performance has been possible because I now focus all my time and energy on [my] studies."

The water in the photo below is not totally clear, and we believe that is because of iron in the water. While iron found in drinking water is usually an aesthetic quality, the community can still use the water without concern for health issues.

We often find that the water clears as the sand dam that supplies the well matures. This well was designed to protect against outside contamination and provide safer water than the unprotected sources this community may have been using.

Mercy (right) having a drink with 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 Kithalani 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 Kithalani 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.