Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jul 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/17/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

The 500 community members of Kanyoeni do not have a nearby water source, so they must wake up early and walk several kilometers to collect water from scoop holes. People's shortest distance traveled is 2 km (1.24 miles). Some have to walk up to 10 km (6.21 miles), which amounts to a two-hour journey each way. Due to the long distance, community members typically only make one trip in the morning before attending to their daily responsibilities, like farming and caring for livestock. But to meet their water needs, most must return once more in the evening. It is exhausting and dangerous.

"I have to wake up early to acquire water for my family," said Ngai, a 47-year-old farmer. "I return home towards late afternoon, which leaves me tired and unable to fully concentrate on activities such as farming and other self-improvement activities."

"I have no other option than to drink water from this water point that is mostly unsafe."

Aside from being far away, the water is also open to all forms of contamination. The scoop holes are surrounded by green vegetation: feeding grounds for cattle and goats. There are also footpaths across the scoop holes that residents and livestock use. Furthermore, there are trees in the area that birds perch on. Because of this, the people of Kanyoeni regularly suffer from typhoid, amoeba, dysentery, diarrhea, and more.

The hygiene and sanitation in the area are below average because of water scarcity. Most of the households do not have dish racks, garbage pits, and handwashing stations. They cannot maintain proper dental hygiene or body care due to the elusive water supply. Laundry cleaning is also an occasional affair due to water insufficiency.

The people of Kanyoeni demonstrate great unity in helping one another. They set up fundraising sessions for those parents who cannot pay school fees for their children. They come together for funerals and festivals, such as dowry payments and weddings. They recently came up with table banking to give a financial boost to needy members at a reasonable rate of interest. The residents are also Christians who have built several churches to cultivate their faith in a higher power.

Reliable Water for Kanyeoni

Our main entry point into Kanyoeni Community has been the Kyeni Kya Kanyoeni 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 provided 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 significantly hindered reaching their fullest potential.

We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with the Self-Help Group and other community members to teach essential 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 the water is flowing.

One of the most important topics we plan to cover is handling, storage, and water treatment. Having a clean water source will be extremely helpful, but it is useless if water gets contaminated when it is consumed. We will also emphasize the importance of handwashing.

The community and we firmly 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 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

December, 2022: Clean Water Available in Kanyoeni!

You were a major part of establishing a sand dam/shallow well in the community of Kanyoeni. When we install sand dams, we build up sand to raise the water table and naturally filter water. However, it often takes a rainy season or two for the projects to reach their full potential.

We are thrilled to report the sand dam and shallow well are now filled with water and fully functional, providing clean water to the community. Thank you for making clean water a reality for this region. By having consistent access to reliable water, the people of this community’s health, energy, finances, and free time are sure to improve!

July, 2022: Kanyoeni Community Hand-Dug Well Complete!

Kanyoeni 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.

''When the sand dam shall have water, it will have a great impact on my village as everyone will have access to clean water," said 17-year-old Jemmimah M.

"The schools around this place are well-positioned to benefit as no more adverse water scarcity will be experienced anymore. Having water, I will keep myself clean, hence improving [my] level of hygiene and sanitation."

Jemmimah stands in front of the finished sand dam.

''I have wished to own a kitchen garden," Jemmimah continued.

"Now things are looking up. I am very optimistic that once the sand dam harvests water, I will be able to start one for myself and my family too. We will waste no more money on buying vegetables for the family. I will also be able to excel in [my] academic performance because I will be spending little time and energy to get water from this water point."

"I hope that the sand dam will change my life so much," said 52-year-old farmer, John Mutua Mutambu. "I will enjoy clean water which is very safe. Also, I will improve my income through the planting of vegetables and then selling them. Time will be properly managed, especially not having to trek for [a] long [time] to get water."

John at the hygiene training.

''I hope to plant crops and harvest good produce from my farm," John continued. "I will sell the surplus to get school fees for my kids."

"In terms of health, I hope to get better and also avoid some sicknesses related to water contamination. I will not get sick frequently. My children will also be no longer exposed to water-related infections; thus I will not be spending time or money in getting them medical assistance."

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 Kyeni Kya Kanyoeni Self-Help Group for this project. The members and their families contributed tremendous amounts of materials and physical labor.

New Knowledge

Our trainer conferred with the field staff about their previous household visits and interviews with community members to determine which topics the community could improve upon.

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 detergent-making and improve behaviors such as handwashing.

The group uses a newly constructed tippy-tap for a handwashing lesson.

"We have learned a lot of practices that we knew but never practiced and others that are new to us," said John Mutua Mutambu, who is the newly elected chairperson of Kanyoeni's water user committee.

"This training has also helped us understand the different causes of diseases and how they can be prevented. It will also help us improve on our routines as far as hygiene is concerned. For instance, a good number [of us have] been eating fruits without washing them, not cleaning hands after visiting latrines, among other poor practices."

We also touched on health problems in the community, good and bad hygiene behaviors, the spread and prevention of disease, and sanitation improvements.

The most memorable topic was disease transmission, which struck particularly true with one community member, who said he might have lived to 140 had his family not practiced open defecation when he was growing up.

Community members learn how to make soap.

"This training will really help us reduce disease incidences, thus living healthy lives," John said.

"We will also improve on latrine hygiene by cleaning them using the detergent that we have been taught how to make. The skill gained from both the detergent and soap making will help us increase our household income, thus enabling us [to] meet our personal and basic needs."


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!

May, 2022: Kanyoeni Community 1B Hand-Dug Well Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Kanyoeni 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: "It is safe to use this waterpoint..."

August, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kanyoeni 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!

Mawia N., 14, recalled what life was like in Kanyoeni before her community’s well was implemented last year.

"I used to struggle a lot to acquire water for drinking, cooking, bathing or even washing clothes because fetching water would take about 4 hours daily. Carrying jerrycans of water back home was very exhausting and I had little time to study or play with my friends. We could only take one meal daily because there was little water to cook," said Mawia.

But life is much better for Mawia and the other community members in Kanyoeni now.

"Thanks to this water project, water is easily accessible. I spend less time to fetch the water. It takes me less than half an hour to walk to this water point. We have also planted kales and tomatoes at home and can eat twice [or] thrice daily. It’s safe to use this water point because it is nearby and easy to use, unlike scoop holes that were far away. This means I get more time to play with my friends and do my homework. I arrive at school with enough energy to study because I do not have to go far when fetching water in the evening or during weekends," Mawia said.

Having ready access to water from the well has made a difference for Mawia, allowing her to receive the nourishment she needs and to have the energy required to work towards a brighter future.

"We have enough clean water to drink, cook and perform hygiene duties. Also, I have more time to engage in activities like playing with my friends or doing my homework thus I now have better academic grades because I [am] more comfortable in class," Mawia concluded.

Thank you for helping her access clean water and enjoy being a child.

Right now, there are others just like her in neighboring communities that desperately need safe water access. Your support will immediately go to work to provide a clean water project - and we can’t wait to introduce you to the next person you’ll help.

Mawia drinking 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 Kanyoeni 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 Kanyoeni 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.