Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 350 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2021

Functionality Status:  Low/No Water or Mechanical Breakdown

Last Checkup: 03/20/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

Mbitini village is a highly-populated area with more than 1,400 people living in the region. The community is located in Kenya's semi-arid region, where water demand is high, but access is low. Many people here walk long distances to get water each day.

The current water source for the community is a sand dam and shallow hand-dug well that we helped build last year. The one well, however, cannot meet the entire community's water needs, leading to overcrowding and sometimes low water quantity. As a result, people return to using scoop holes to get water. While fetching water from the scoop holes may help to cut down on wait times compared to the well, the scoop hole water is unsafe for consumption.

"Getting water in our community has not been easy. The water point is very far - more than three kilometers from my home - and it takes a long time to walk there, draw water, and walk back home with donkeys," explained Annastacia Musau.

"As a mother and a wife, the need for water here is very high - especially times like today with the COVID-19 pandemic, which requires higher standards of hygiene for prevention. That is not possible when the water source is far and getting water is a challenge."

Not everyone can afford donkeys, like Annastacia. That means they have to carry the water buckets themselves - a task that most often falls on women and children. As a result, more trips back and forth to the well are required. All of this makes fetching water more tiring and more time-consuming.

Our main entry point into Mbitini Community has been the Mathyakani 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 constructing water projects and spreading the message of good hygiene and sanitation to everyone.

We typically work with self-help groups for three to five years on multiple water projects. Completing multiple water points in a community will ensure that people like Julius Musili will no longer spend a significant part of their day walking to get water.

"As members of Mbitini community and the great Kavaini location, our biggest problem has always been water, which the government has failed to address over time. Our lack of adequate water supply has greatly contributed to the high poverty levels in our locality as farming with the natural rains has been continuously failing. We need water through community initiatives like what we are doing now, working together to beat a common challenge," said Julius.

The implementation of more sand dams and shallow wells will provide more water sources, helping the community to address their water challenges.

Reliable Water for Mbitni

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 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 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

August, 2021: Mbitini Community C Shallow Well Complete!

Mbitini Community, Kenya, now has a new source of water thanks to your donation. We constructed a new hand-dug well adjacent to a new sand dam on the riverbed. The sand dam will build up sand to raise the water table and naturally filter water, while the well will provide a safer method of drawing drinking water for the community.

It could take up to three years of rain for this sand dam to reach maximum capacity, however, because sometimes it only rains once a year! As the sand dam matures and stores more sand, the surrounding landscape will become lush and fertile.

When asked how the new shallow well will impact her life, local farmer, Esther Mbuvi, said, "It will help me enhance food security in my home because the water is available during most of the year. This will support the farming of different crops. Hygiene will also improve since I can now wash household items and clean the environment more sufficiently."

Ben M., a local student, is also looking forward to the opportunities given to him by the shallow well. "It will help me acquire enough water for farming my vegetables at home. Due to this water point's close proximity, I will use less time and effort to transport the water which will positively impact my academic performance and home cultivation."

Hand-Dug Well Construction Process

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. When all of the materials were ready, it was time to dig in!

First, we excavated a hole 7 feet in diameter up to the recommended depth of 25 feet. (Most hand-dug wells do not reach that depth due to hard rocks between 10-18 feet).

As planned, the diameter shrank to 5 feet when the well lining was complete. This lining is made of brick and mortar with perforations to allow for water to seep through. When the well is complete, sand builds up around its walls, which will naturally filter the rainwater stored behind the dam.

Once the lining reached ground level, we laid a precast concrete slab on top of the lining and joined it to the wall using mortar. The concrete dried for two weeks before installation. In preparation for the hand pump's installation, we fixed four bolts onto the slab during casting.

Next, the mechanics arrived to install the pump as community members watched, learning how to manage simple maintenance tasks for themselves. Finally, we gave the well another few days after installing the pump to let the joints dry completely. We 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 use the concrete steps to get their water.

We worked with the Mathyakani Self-Help Group for this project. The members and their families contributed materials and physical labor. We trained the group on various skills, including 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.

New Knowledge

Our 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. As we had worked with the Mathyakani Self-Help Group previously, this was a refresher training.

Attendance and participation were both high. Members of the group were very willing to learn new things, especially the new members who had not attended the first training. They had plenty of questions. Most of the group members were present, including the chairman and the vice-chairman.

Peterson Makau, a 63-year-old farmer and Self-Help Group member, expressed his approval. "The training was very educative and enjoyable according to my assessment. We have learned a lot of things, especially a lot of mistakes that we commit deliberately and innocently in our homes."

We decided to train on health problems in the community, good and bad hygiene behaviors, the spread and prevention of disease, sanitation improvements, planning for behavioral change, handwashing, and soap-making.

"It is extremely critical to construct latrines in our homes," Peterson continued. "I've acquired knowledge on the proper location of latrines and how to keep them clean."

Peterson predicts the training will have a very positive impact on the community. "I expect cases of water-borne diseases to reduce at a high percentage."

When an issue arises concerning the sand dam, 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!

June, 2021: Mbitini Community Well Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Mbitini 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: Better Grades and a Kitchen Garden!

January, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Mbitini Community 2B.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mbitini Community 2B 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 helped to create a sand dam and shallow well in Mbitini, water was so scarce that it adversely affected the lives of everyone living there.

“In the past, I had to walk several kilometers to [the] Mbitini River to enable our cattle [to] drink water, because I am usually tasked with herding cattle during the holidays and weekends," said 13-year-old David M. "There was also little water at home for personal hygiene and sanitation because we had to use sparingly.”

But now, the amount of time everyone spends walking for water has drastically reduced, leaving them with better living standards and more time to do other things.

“The implemented water project is easily accessible and enables [me] to spend little time to fetch water, unlike before," David continued. "The water is also clean because the shallow well is protected against human and animal contamination. Thus, I am no longer exposed to infections like dysentery, amoeba, or typhoid. I no longer spend time and energy looking for water, and it feels good to easily fetch water from this water point. Also, getting our goats and cattle to drink water is now much easier."

Now, David's gardens are flourishing and his academic performance is on the rise.

“This water point offers sufficient water for irrigating our crops, and I have also set up a kitchen garden at home to improve the quality of our diet," David concluded. "My grades in school will soar higher because I have more time for studies and other constructive activities, like playing or [talking] with my friends."

Note: The system has visible rust due to the presence 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. This well was designed to protect against outside contamination and provide safer water than the unprotected sources this community was using. We will continue to keep a close eye on the water quality of this water system through our quarterly monitoring program.

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 Mbitini Community 2B 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 Mbitini Community 2B – 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 - StossWater