Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 881 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/26/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

Water scarcity is Kivai and Kimwatho Communities' most pressing challenge. The problems with the water situation in Kivai and Kimwatho are almost too numerous to detail.

Most of the rivers here are seasonal, holding water only during the rainy season and a few months after. Community members trek long distances to access water, having to dig deep scoopholes.

Mary Mutisya, 60 (pictured above), avoids the whole ordeal—when she can afford it. "It is very costly to buy water for drinking whenever I am unable to walk to the river," she said.

"I have to pay someone to get the water from Kivani market to get me clean drinking water. I waste a lot of time whenever I fail to get the cash as I have to get it myself. It is a pressing issue at my demanding age."

Because water is such a sought-after commodity here, the lines at each water source are long. Some community members who live far away from the riverbed spend the night at the scoopholes so they can be the first ones in line to fill their jerrycans, cupful by cupful. People spend up to four hours just waiting for the opportunity to fetch water.

Mercy, who is eight years old (pictured below in the red shirt, right), already knows the struggles of fetching water in her community. "Walking to the river every morning is very hectic," Mercy said. "I always accompany my mother to the river. We end up spending most of our day there trying to fetch some water. I miss playing with other children as we get home late and [I am too] tired to play."

If Mercy's mother leaves her at home while she fetches water, that poses another issue. "I have to wait for my mother to go and fetch the water to come and make food for us. In the morning when she leaves, I get nervous being left at home alone so much."

The scoopholes are open to all forms of contamination. Even after the water is boiled, it's been known to cause dysentery, cholera, scabies, typhoid, and brucellosis, amongst other conditions. And humans aren't the scoopholes' only customers. Wild animals who are also looking for a spot to drink have been known to attack those standing in line. The animals are fierce in their desperation for water.

The sources of water community members can find are not only contaminated, but they are also full of salt. Each jerrycan-full needs to be boiled before it can be used for cooking or drinking, which takes a good amount of time in kitchens where the only source of heat is a woodfire. People waste a lot of soap trying to remove the crust of salt from their clothes during laundering.

The people of Kivai and Kimwatho already have ventilated latrines and handwashing stations. Cleanliness is important to them. If they only had a source of clean and reliable water so they could more easily wash their homes, dishes, clothes, and latrines, their standard of living would be greatly improved.

Reliable Water for Kivai Kimwatho

Our main entry point into Kivai Kimwatho Community has been the Kivai Kimwatho 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

May, 2022: Kivai Kimwatho Community Hand-Dug Well Complete!

Kivai Kimwatho 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.

"On my side, I will no longer walk several kilometers for water after school," said 14-year-old Gideon W. "The time used trekking into the river will be used in studying, as school is now demanding. I will never go thirsty while reliable water is right here with me. I hope to do well at school as now I do not have to worry about what I shall drink."

Gideon at the hygiene training.

"For years, I have wished to own a kitchen garden, but water scarcity has shuttered my dreams," Gideon continued. "Now, things are looking up, and soon the kitchen garden will be live and working. This will make my family stop buying vegetables from unknown sources and save that money for other uses."

"Since I was a boy, I really wanted to get peace of mind by having reliable water at my home," said 63-year-old farmer, Alex Mailu. "My dreams seem to happen, and already I have witnessed them. I am very happy to get all this water in just a blink of an eye. I hope to utilize this water for drinking, farming, and my cattle. I will not have to walk several kilometers to queue for water at this age. I will just focus on my farm and become rich."


''I want my children to have the best life ever, not like mine," Alex continued. "I will encourage all to plant trees and utilize this water."

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.

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 Kivai Kimwatho 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. 58 people turned up for the training: 27 males and 31 females (which was very impressive, given that the Self-Help Group only has 50 members!).

The group learns how to construct a simple handwashing station.


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 most memorable topic was disease transmission, during which the group split up into three to discuss which diseases affect their community the most and how infections are spread from one person to another.

Disease transmission discussion.

Not only did this spur a lively discussion, but during the lecture, members saw that, after heavy rains the previous night, their sand dam had begun to store up water behind it even before its construction had been completed. This both proved the efficacy of their hard work and excited them about impending improvements to their lives.

Beatrice at the hygiene training.

"The training was of importance to us and, specifically, to me," said 43-year-old farmer and housewife, Beatrice Lau. "I have adopted some of the hygiene and sanitation practices that we were taught and currently, I have achieved more than half. I hope to maintain proper sanitation levels at home and also pass this knowledge to my children so that we do not get sick over and over. I am thankful for the training."

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 our field officers to assist them.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

April, 2022: Kivai Kimwatho Community Well Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Kivai Kimwatho 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: "The goodness of clean water"

May, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kivai Kimwatho 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!

Cynthia W., 17, recalled what life was like in Kivai Kimwatho before her community’s well was implemented last year.

"Before the construction of this project, life was very hard. It was a risk for us to camp at the scoop holes or even wake up there at the dawn when there was less security. I did not like being sent to the river because it posed danger to my life as a girl," said Cynthia.

But life is much safer for Cynthia and the other community members in Kivai Kimwatho now.

“Now, I enjoy fetching water from this shallow well point. I am very happy about this project and the source has made me realize the goodness of having clean water near us," said Cynthia.

Having ready access to water from the well has made a difference for Cynthia, even in her hygiene and sanitation practices.

"I use the water to improve on our hygiene and sanitation at home," Cynthia said. "When I grow up, I plan to cultivate my own farm using water from this project to improve my life. I plan to plant kale and tomatoes for sale."

Thank you for helping Cynthia access clean water and giving her hope for a more promising future.

Right now, there are others just like Cynthia 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.

Cynthia pumps water at the well.

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 Kivai Kimwatho 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 Kivai Kimwatho 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.


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