Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 1,296 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 12/06/2022

Project Features

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Community Profile

During the wet season, the 1,296 community members of Nthonzweni have several options for water close to home. But in the dry season, their options disappear. This area receives little rainfall, so the community members' only option half of the time is to travel long distances to search for overcrowded, contaminated water sources, like the Ivoesyo River.

As a child, Francis K.'s only worries should be studying and playing. But as he explains, his days are dominated by the constant search for water. "I struggle a lot to fetch water. We only get water when there are rains. When there are no rains, I have to walk for long distances to fetch water at the river."

The journey to the river eats up more than two hours of Francis's time every day.

"By the time I get back home, I am very tired and I have to also do my homework," Francis continued (he's pictured above). "This often results in poor performance in school, as I have no time to study when I come home."

But time is not the only factor in Nthonzweni's water crisis. The water is open to all forms of contamination: farm chemicals, animal waste, and human waste. Due to the inadequate water supply, the community members are unable to sustain proper cleanliness, hygiene, and sanitation within their homesteads. Because of this, they report constant cases of typhoid, amoeba, and dysentery.

This problem is further aggravated by the community's inability to collect enough water for everyday uses, as 56-year-old farmer, Joel Mutua Kikumbi (pictured below), explained. "There is always inadequate water for use at home, either for washing clothes, bathing, cleaning the house/[dishes], drinking, and cooking, because the water source is far from my home."

"Anytime I try farming, the crops wither and die," Joel continued. "I waste a lot of time walking to search for water. My livestock are not healthy as they do not get enough water for drinking."

What we can do:

Our main entry point into the community is the Kyeni Kya Nthonzweni 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.

Reliable Water for Nthonzweni

Our main entry point into Nthonzweni Community has been the Kyeni Kya Nthonzweni 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

12/15/2022: Clean Water at Nthonzweni Community!

You were a major part of establishing a sand dam/shallow well in the community of Nthonzweni. 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!

08/01/2022: Nthonzweni Community Hand-Dug Well Complete!

Nthonzweni 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.

The water in this photo 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 sediment at the bottom of the well settles and 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. We will send an update as soon as it settles.

Alex on the day of our hygiene training.

''I have seen hygiene and sanitation levels depreciate in our family but now things will take a turnaround as we have plenty of water to cater for that," said nine-year-old Alex N. "I hope to use this water to make my home clean and habitable. Also, I will enjoy taking in clean water which to me is a plus I will have minimal health worries in issues related to waterborne diseases."

Alex continued, ''I will help my parents implement [the] planting of trees in our home. When I grow up, I will plant my own trees too and have my vegetable garden as well as a tree nursery using water from the project."

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 Nthonzweni 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 previous household visits and interviews with community members to determine which topics the community could improve upon.

The training was held at the home of community member Samson Musyoki. It was chosen for its central location, making it easily accessible to all, and the availability of enough outdoor space to accommodate all the participants.

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.

Community members found the session on soapmaking very interesting because it was a new skill that could help them generate additional income. Because the soapmaking process takes time to complete, participants began discussing how they intend to use the soap to increase their incomes, and each person had time to share their ideas with the group.

"I am very happy to have had such a great opportunity to learn about hygiene and sanitation. I learned a lot which I have already started practicing," said Philis Ndoi, a 30-year-old farmer.

"Now, I know how to make soap and so far I have made some hoping to sell. I am well equipped to teach others how to make soap and use it. Getting to know how to control diseases is a plus for me and my family. We will not let diseases prevail in our homes whereas I have the capability to keep this away by just washing my hands. The hygiene and sanitation levels at my home are projected to improve greatly."

With water from the well, community members have started thriving farms and tree nurseries.


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!

03/29/2022: Nthonzweni Community 1B Hand-Dug Well Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Nthonzweni 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

Dug Well and Hand Pump

Hand-dug wells are best suited for clay, sand, gravel and mixed soil ground formations. A large diameter well is dug by hand, and then lined with either bricks or concrete to prevent contamination and collapse of the well. Once a water table is hit, the well is capped and a hand-pump is installed – creating a complete and enclosed water system.


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