Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 130 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 12/04/2023

Project Features

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Those close to the water sources in Thonoa Community are lucky: their trip to fill up their jerrycans only takes a half-hour to an hour. But, unfortunately, not everyone lives so close. For most of the 130 people in Thonoa, the journey to and from the water point—a distance of seven kilometers (4.34 miles)—takes around four hours. The area is hilly and brutally hot, which makes the journey that much harder.

The hand-dug well in the below picture might have once yielded water, but now offers only mud. Now, community members must seek water elsewhere: by digging scoopholes into dry riverbeds.

"I don't get enough water to drink, [or] for my cattle," said Lucy Kanini, a 42-year-old farmer (pictured below). "The water scarcity in this region has inconvenienced my efforts in farming because I cannot plant much crops during the dry months."

"I experience water scarcity problems because there is insufficient water at home for drinking and maintaining proper hygiene," said 14-year-old Caroline (pictured below). "I also have to carry water to school, which leads to exhaustion due to long distances."

During the dry season, life in Thonoa becomes even more difficult. The lack of rain leaves the rivers and crops dry. People who normally grow their own food can't irrigate their crops, often selling their livestock to get enough money to buy food and water.

"My parents' level of income reduces because they [cannot] cultivate crops during the dry season, which ultimately affects my studies," Caroline said. "They cannot raise enough [money for school] fees or [to] buy books."

The community members cannot practice proper dental hygiene and body care due to water insufficiency. Most members of the community are unable to clean their dishes or do laundry as often as they would like. Not only is this damaging to people's physical health, but also to their dignity as human beings.

"My family does not get enough water for hygiene and sanitation, which poses a threat to our health due to hygiene-related infections," Lucy said.

Caroline said: "The water from the scoop holes is contaminated, making me sick occasionally and unable to attend classes."

With a reliable source of water closer to them, Thonoa's community members will be better able to care for themselves and their loved ones.

Reliable Water for Thonoa

Our main entry point into Thonoa 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 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

March, 2023: Thonoa Community Dug Well Complete!

Thonoa Community, Kenya now has a new water source 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 because sometimes it only rains once a year in this region! As the sand dam matures and stores more sand, the surrounding landscape will become lush and fertile, and the well will fill with water.

"I will be able to easily draw water for drinking and for use at home because I only need to pump out water. In the past, I would have had to walk several kilometers and bear with the long queues to fetch water," said 15-year-old Eric M. "I will now get more time to focus and improve my academic performance. I will be able to attend a better secondary school because I will have more time to study and play with my friends."

"We will now have enough clean water within the community to conduct personal hygiene and sanitation, drink, cook, and irrigate our crops," said 40-year-old farmer Joseph Kyule.

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 the materials were ready, it was time to dig in!

First, we excavated a hole seven 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 finished, sand builds up around its walls, which will 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. We fixed four bolts onto the slab during casting in preparation for the hand pump's installation.

Next, the mechanics arrived to install the pump as community members watched, learning how to manage simple maintenance tasks for themselves. 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. After installing the pump, we gave the well another few days to let the joints dry entirely.

We worked with the Ndithi Self-Help Group for this project. The members and their families contributed tremendous amounts of materials and physical labor.

New Knowledge

As we’ve worked with this Self-Helf Group in the past, we conferred with them about the subjects they most needed refresher training on.

We decided to train on health problems in the community, good and bad hygiene behaviors, the spread and prevention of disease, and sanitation improvements. We also covered various skills, including bookkeeping, financial management, project management, group dynamics, and governance. We included techniques like soapmaking and handwashing.

"The refresher training has helped us to remember the contents on hygiene and sanitation that we learned last year. I have learned how to treat drinking water using simple methods like moringa seeds and boiling. I have also learned how to keep my latrine clean to prevent flies and bad odor. The soap-making training will help the group to generate more income through soap sales. We are happy and grateful for the support," said 53-year-old farmer Kivunda Nthambi.


This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our in-country teams, and the community members themselves. When an issue arises concerning the well, 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 their local field officers to assist them.

Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our monitoring and maintenance program. We walk with each community, problem-solving together when they face challenges with functionality, seasonality, or water quality. Together, all these components help us strive for enduring access to reliable, clean, and safe water for this community.

With your contribution, one more piece has been added to a large puzzle of water projects. In our target areas, we’re working toward complete coverage of reliable, maintained water sources within a 30-minute round trip for each community, household, school, and health center. With this in mind, search through our upcoming projects to see which community you can help next!

Thank you for making all of this possible!

January, 2023: Thonoa Community Hand-Dug Well Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Thonoa 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.


Luke's Campaign for Water
105 individual donor(s)