Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 400 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/23/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

The biggest challenge in southeastern Kenya has always been the seasonal rivers, which only flow for a limited time each year. The 440 people in the community of Katothya are struggling to find the water they need to meet their daily needs without using all of their time and energy.

Community members rise as early as 6 a.m. to trek to the faraway Athi River to fetch water so they can beat the scorching sun, which gets hotter and hotter as the day passes. Fetching water from the Athi River is a full-day activity since it is so far away, which puts any other activities on hold. The only other alternative is to travel more than 10km (6.2 miles) to the nearest sand dam and well, a journey that most cannot afford to make.

Some community members who live nearer to the river can go up to three times a day to collect water. In contrast, those from afar have a journey of two hours one way and can only go once. The distance is too time-consuming. It exhausts them and their donkeys, who help with the journey.

To reach the area, individuals must pass through deep forests, which are habitats for fierce and poisonous animals, and that is not the only risk, since they must be careful of crocodiles once they get to the river.

"I find it hard to walk to the river every time I plan to. It is a very tedious journey and a risky one too. I am so much affected by the water scarcity in this area I cannot do anything else after visiting the river. Sometimes my legs are swollen as the journey is not a short one," said Damaris Mwanzau, a 52-year-old farmer.

Water from the river is not safe to drink because of contamination. Community members contract waterborne diseases from drinking the water, and experience skin rashes whenever they bathe with it.

"The situation of water scarcity here is wanting. At our home, the sanitation level is not as good as we expect it to be, and our clothes are barely washed. Sometimes we miss our mother when she leaves to fetch water at the river. We have to wait for her until she comes back to make a meal for us. Although every time she has to go to the river, she comes back very worn out. I find myself pitying her," said 11-year-old Matata M.

Farming is a challenge because of the distance to the water point, so individuals only grow crops that rely on the rainfall experienced twice a year. Usually, the yield is not sufficient enough for commercial sale, but only enough to provide just what a family needs.

A sand dam built at the nearby Katothya River will make collecting water much easier and less labor-intensive for community members.

Reliable Water for Katothya

Our main entry point into Katothya Community has been the Katothya 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

November, 2022: Katothya Community Hand-Dug Well Complete!

Katothya Community, Kenya now has a new water source thanks to your donation! We constructed a new hand-dug well. Our upcoming sand dam project 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 well will begin to fill with water during the next rainy season. Our teams will return here and we will share photos of the well in use as soon as that happens.

"Water will help me become self-dependent as I can now grow some crops and vegetables on my farm," said 65-year-old farmer and secretary of the newly formed Water User Committee, Benson Mutuku. "Access to clean water near me will help in reducing the risks of getting sick by drinking contaminated water. I hope to have income security because I will grow enough vegetables for my family and sell the surplus to the community members."


"I am planning to have a high yield from my farm," Benson continued. "I will start a good tree nursery to generate seedlings for locals, as I aim to create a greener environment in my area. I look forward to stopping the habit of purchasing vegetables, rather [becoming] the new supplier. Whenever I have construction taking place at my home, I will no longer have to worry about [finding] water and sand."

"I am planning to start my little farm where I'll have vegetables like sukuma wiki (collard greens) and spinach," said 18-year-old Veronica N. "Our area is arid. Having a sand dam near me is a [blessing] because we shall have water near us, a reliable source during the dry seasons. This is a sign of hope to us and many other community members. Being a girl child, I am at the forefront of my family in ensuring proper hygiene and sanitation. This water will play a major role in helping me to achieve that."


"Hygiene and sanitation have been my daily focus," Veronicah continued. "I will be able to wash my clothes twice or thrice in a week compared to a time without enough water. I will also start a tree-planting culture at my home and a flower garden. I'd love to have a beautiful home. I trust the [water project] will play a big role in making these plans come true."

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 Katothya 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.

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.

One of the more notable topics covered during our training with Katothya was nutrition. We discussed how people, especially children, need to eat a varied diet of healthful foods in order to get all the nutrients they need. Everyone discussed different diets and how some people might avoid one food or another. One community elder said they had never heard of nutrition in their entire life.

"During this discussion, different opinions were aired, and some were hilarious," said our field officer, Jefferson.

Benson, whom we quoted earlier, explained what he learned during the training. "We have now been educated that after visiting the latrine, we should wash our hands. Our latrines should be covered to prevent insects from flying directly from the latrine. In soap making, we were reminded of how to make more soap and harvest huge soap sales."

Everyone went home from the training with a bottle of soap for their own use. In this photo, our friend Benson is on the left.

"We also engaged in a lengthy discussion on how we can [make] this project a success in our group," Benson continued. "Every member noted that the initiative is very good and is geared towards income security for our group. The training has been of positive impact on us as a community. We have started using proper dishracks and covering our latrines."


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!

September, 2022: Katothya Community Well Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Katothya 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 very convenient now to get water."

December, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Katothya 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!

Veronicah, 18, recalled what life was like in the Katothya Community before her community's dug well was implemented last year.

"Before the construction of this project, life was very hard. We used to get water from very far [away], and the water was not very safe for drinking. We did not have enough water for maintaining our hygiene and sanitation as well as for watering our trees and other crops on the farm. In many cases, I was always on the road to fetch water, which made me feel bad. Being denied [the] time to do my activities as a girl lowered my self-esteem," said Veronicah.

Collecting water is now much quicker and more convenient for Veronicah and the other community members in Katothya.

"Now, I enjoy fetching water from this shallow well point. It is very convenient now to get water. The water is also very clean. Our livestock has enough water, and their health is gradually doing well. I am planning to grow kale and spinach for my family," continued Veronicah.

Having ready access to water from the well has made a difference for Veronicah, allowing her plenty of water and time to practice better hygiene, hopefully improving her self-esteem among her other goals.

"This water point has helped me attain hygiene and sanitation. I have plenty of water to wash my clothes, clean our house, and wash utensils. Before the project was implemented, I used to wash clothes once every week, but nowadays, I can do it whenever needful," concluded Veronicah.

Veronicah collects water from the well behind her.

Right now, there are others 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.

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 Katothya 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 Katothya 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.


Project Sponsor - Lifeplus Foundation