Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 600 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/15/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

Nzimba's residents wake up as early as 6 a.m. to search for water so they do not have to walk in the scorching sun later in the day. The village of 600 people mostly uses an unprotected spring, but the water is contaminated. There is also a shallow well nearby, but people cannot drink the water because it is salty. There are two sand dams and dug-wells in other communities farther away, but most people cannot afford to waste the time and energy required to collect water from there.

To collect water suitable for drinking, they must walk to the public tap sourced from a protected spring. It is nearly three kilometers (1.86 miles) away for most residents, and they can only retrieve water one day a week. Understandably, there are very long queues that waste people's valuable time.

"We mostly get our drinking water from the public tap at Kasioni town, which is about three kilometers away. Walking there and back is exhausting and leaves little energy for other important activities such as farming," said farmer Kilonzo Kyulu, 49, shown below.

He continued, "The public tap is also usually overcrowded because it only offers water once or twice weekly, which is inadequate for the entire community. The recently built sand dam offers fresh and clean water, but the area is hilly and [it] is exhausting to acquire water from it."

Since most residents walk several kilometers to reach the current water points, they often cannot tend to their daily duties adequately when they return home. Their incomes suffer as a result, and their daily hygiene practices are lacking.

Munyao K., 11 (shown above), said, "Since this area is hilly, going to the public water after school to fetch drinking water is exhausting and leaves me with little energy or time to focus on my studies. Despite the presence of the two sand dams and shallow wells in the region, the water is still inadequate for the entire community because of the long drought periods. We have to use the water sparingly, and therefore we cannot irrigate our farms to improve food security, and we still experience low levels of hygiene and sanitation."

This community needs its own safe, reliable water source located a reasonable distance from community members. Having a water point will allow people to maintain the time and energy required to conduct other vital tasks like increasing their livelihoods, practicing good daily hygiene, and studying.

Reliable Water for Kasilu

Our main entry point into this community has been the Kasilu 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

January, 2023: Nzimba Community Shallow Well Project Complete!

Nzimba 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.

"I will no longer have to walk several kilometers to fetch water for my family or livestock to drink," said 16-year-old Mwangangi M. "Since I am mostly tasked with herding our goats and cows, getting them to this water point will be easy, and I can use the extra time [I gain] to concentrate on my studies. We will also have enough clean water to drink at home."

Mwangangi at the well with the dam behind him.

"In the past, I had to walk for almost two kilometers to the nearest protected shallow well to fetch water for drinking," Mwangangi continued. "Although I often used a donkey, the journey [was] time-consuming. Now, I will have more time to help my family [with] farming activities during [my school] holidays. Also, I'll have more time to study or spend with my friends at home."

Adults were just as excited about the new water source.

"I will able to access this water point because it is close to my home," said 68-year-old farmer Mumboi Kalethi. "I will no longer have to spend several hours to get to the nearest shallow well. It will also sufficient water for irrigation, and I can use the extra time and energy cultivating my crops."

Mumboi at the well.

"By planting various vegetables and fruit trees, I will be able to offer a stable and balanced diet to my family," Mumboi continued. "I will also be able to sell the surplus and use the income to offset my children's school fees and other basic needs. Hygiene and sanitation at personal and domestic levels will also improve because I will have adequate water for cleaning."

The water in this photo is not totally clear, but that is to be expected! When a hand-dug well is first constructed, it sometimes takes a while for the sediment at the bottom to settle and for the water to become clear. We will send an update as soon as it settles.

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!

Materials ready for building!

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

New Knowledge

As we’ve worked with this Self-Helf Group in the past, we conferred with them about the subjects they most needed refresher training on. The training took place on a day early in the water source construction timeline when everyone was taking a break.

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 soap- and detergent-making and improve behaviors such as handwashing.

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

One of the members posed a question that sparked an interesting discussion. Our training highlights the need for community members to visit a doctor or clinic whenever they have concerning symptoms. But this community member had never visited a doctor before and wanted to know how best to describe his symptoms to a healthcare provider. He said it would be easy to describe something like a constant pain in his knee, but he had symptoms that came and went, and were never in the same place.

Our field officers and his fellow Self-Help Group Members highlighted the need to be specific about symptoms' location, duration, and type (i.e. stabbing pain versus a dull ache). After this discussion, he felt better about visiting the clinic and promised to do so as soon as he was able.

Community members also expressed their happiness with having been taught soap-making skills in previous training sessions. During this training, we added instructions on how to make household detergent and latrine disinfectant. With this new water source, which will make making these essentials even easier, some of the community members plan to embark on soap- and detergent-making full-time for sale to nearby schools and markets, which will earn their households extra income.

Looking Ahead

The new water source will make everyday tasks so much easier. This group has already started to bring their dreams of agricultural greatness to fruition by starting a tree nursery. Once these trees mature, they can be planted. These will, in turn, encourage a healthier ecosystem with more frequent rainfall — a sign of hope and restoration for the people of Nzimba.


This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our in-country teams, and the community members themselves. When an issue arises concerning the sand dam, 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!

November, 2022: Nzimba Community Dug Well Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Nzimba 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.

Mutanu Now Enjoys Free Time!

April, 2024

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Nzimba Community 3B.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Nzimba Community 3B 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!

Nine-year-old Mutanu recalled what life was like in the Nzimba Community before her community's dug well was implemented last year.

"I had to help fetch water for the household; thus, I could walk up the steep hill when coming back home carrying water, which was very exhausting. Due to the water scarcity, water was used sparingly at home; thus, washing garments or performing other personal hygiene chores was occasional. Also, my family could not practice sufficient farming because of the drought," said Mutanu.

She continued, "I would help my family to draw water from the previous shallow wells whenever I was not in school. Walking up the steep terrain while carrying water was very exhausting, and [I] could barely get time to do my homework or play with my friends. I was also sent to Kasioni market to draw fresh drinking water, which was another exacting activity."

Collecting water is now less burdensome for Mutanu and the other community members in Nzimba.

"I am now drinking clean water from the shallow well and [am] not exposed to infections like typhoid. We also have enough water to perform personal hygiene. Thus, issues like ringworms have been reduced," shared Mutanu.

Having ready access to water from the well has made a difference for Mutanu, allowing her time to focus on learning and enjoy her friends.

"It feels good to have enough clean water to drink because I had to bear with thirst most times in the past. My grades have improved because I have sufficient time [to] do my homework thanks to the water point's close proximity. I now spend most of my free time playing with my friends, studying, or helping my mother with household chores," concluded Mutanu.

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 Nzimba Community 3B 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 Nzimba Community 3B – 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 - Marcia and Phillip Rothblum Foundation, Inc.
The Swanson's Campaign for Water
4 individual donor(s)