Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 350 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/21/2024

Project Features

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Water is rationed in Syunoo community. After seeing where they must fetch water from every day, this fact is not surprising.

The implications of this are far-reaching. Community members find it difficult to keep up farming and livestock-rearing activities because they don't have enough water to water their crops or properly feed their animals. But unless someone in each household spends an entire day just going back and forth to the dry riverbed (a distance of 8 kilometers - almost 5 miles!), there simply isn't enough water to go around.

"The water from the scoop holes is mostly salty, making it unsuitable for drinking or farming," explained Elizabeth Musembi, 46, shown below transferring water from a jerrycan at her house.

"Water scarcity in the region has also negatively affected hygiene and sanitation because water has to be used sparingly," Elizabeth continued. "Conducting farming is also difficult because the little available water is not enough for watering crops, which has led to food insecurity and lack of a source of income during the long drought periods."

The long distance water-fetchers walk under the scorching sun exhausts them, and the contaminated water sickens them with stomach upsets, typhoid, amoebas, and dysentery. These sick and tired people are unable to focus on farming, which is their main source of income and food security.

"I have to carry water from home when going to school, which leads to [an] inability to concentrate fully on my studies," said 12-year-old Ken M., shown fetching water from a scoophole on the dry riverbed, below. "Practicing personal hygiene is also impossible."

"I also have to go fetch water from the scoopholes after school, which further consumes my play and study time," Ken continued. "I have contracted typhoid and amoeba in the past, leading to school absenteeism and ultimately poor academic performance."

With a sand dam and well closeby, the people of Syunoo will have so much more time and energy with which to dream and accomplish their goals. Their health will no longer be threatened by water-related disease.

Reliable Water for Syunoo

Our main entry point into this community has been the Kiisu 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 levels. 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

March, 2023: Syunoo Community Hand Dug Well Complete!

Syunoo 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 am often required to carry water to school every day and that means I have to fetch water every evening after school. I will now easily draw water within a few minutes and get more time to play with my friends or study. I will also no longer be exposed to infections like typhoid or amoeba because this waterpoint will offer clean water for drinking, unlike the previous scoop holes at Enziu river. I will also have enough water for drinking and conducting my personal hygiene," said 15-year-old Elius M.


"My academic performance will now improve because there is enough time and energy to study. My parents will now grow vegetables because there is enough water for irrigation, and they will sell the produce to offset my school fees. Water-related infections will now be a thing of the past because I will be drinking clean water," said Elius.

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 Kiisu 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.

Soap-making was a popular topic during the hygiene training. The participants shared that the soap will benefit them in their homes to improve their hygiene and sanitation standards. Making soap will allow participants to wash their clothes, maintain their homes and generate additional income.

A representative photo that shows soap making.

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 soap-making and handwashing.

"The soap training will help us have good quality soap, which is affordable in our community. We are very happy and grateful," said 70-year-old farmer and chairperson of the water user committee Patrick Munyoki Kiteme.


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!

October, 2022: Syunoo Community Hand-Dug Well Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Syunoo 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.


Project Sponsor - Barbara Belle Ash Dougan Foundation