Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 800 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/09/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

The community of Ilalu has two sand dams with dug wells, but those living on the far edge of the community must journey for up to two hours to collect water.

"Walking to the shallow wells is challenging due to the long distance under the burning sun," said 34-year-old farmer Kavisu Kavindu.

Community members generally wake up by 6 a.m. to fetch water. During extreme drought periods, some people even travel to the shallow wells at night when water levels have had a chance to rise, but making that journey can be dangerous.

Regardless of when community members make the exhausting journey, even using donkeys like in the photo above, their water is rationed to only six 20-liter jerrycans per family to ensure that everyone can have at least some water.

"There is little water within the community, and cultivating vegetables and other crops for sale has been an uphill task," said Kavisu. "This negatively affects my level of income and ultimately my livelihood status. My health has also deteriorated because I spend most of my time and energy fetching water rather than focusing on farming."

The alternative is a public stand-pipe (shown above) a kilometer away, which community members must pay to access but can't really afford.

"The purchase of water from the water kiosk also puts another hole in my pocket because it's costly and income from farm produce is almost negligible," said Kavisu (shown below).

Having insufficient water negatively affects students' performance and the livelihoods of community members, whose primary source of income is farming.

"I have to carry water to school from home every day, which is exhausting and affects my concentration in class," said eight-year-old Kitheka N. (shown above). "During the tough drought periods, I go to school on an empty stomach because of the lack of water to prepare meals or cultivate food crops. During the last term, I was often absent from school because there was no water to carry."

Implementing a third sand dam and shallow well will ensure people have a reliable water source nearby, reducing their long journeys and keeping their limited resources from being depleted. The saved funds can then be used on other expenses like seeds for farming, school fees for their children, and improved nutrition.

What We Can Do:

Reliable Water for Ilalu New Foundation Community

Our main entry point into this community has been the Ilalu New Foundation 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 Ilalu New Foundation 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: Ilalu Community Hand-Dug Well Complete!

Ilalu 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 will be able to easily access water to use at home. In the past, I would walk up to three kilometers to fetch water [at] the Mnanda-Migwani surface water [source], which was onerous and time-consuming. I will now be able to get more time to play with friends, conduct personal hygiene, or study because I will no longer have to walk several kilometers to fetch water. I am planning to use some of my spare time to improve my academic performance," said 12-year-old Evans M.


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 Ilalu 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.

"We members of the Ilalu New Foundation self-help group will be in a position to transform our entire community/society to a better dwelling place through practicing good hygiene and sanitation" said 59-year-old farmer Lenah Mason.

"Through the training, we will improve water and sanitation facilities. Having known the common diseases in our area, we will be in a position to change our eating habits and in case of any illness we seek the doctor's attention as soon as possible. We will keep our catchment areas out of bounds for animals to secure our water sources from any source of pollution. [The] PHAST (training) approach has helped us to feel more confident about ourselves and the ability to take action and make improvements in our communities. Feelings of personal empowerment and personal growth are as important as physical changes, such as bathing, drying our clothes using the drying lines, cleaning up the environment, or building 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!

December, 2022: Ilalu Community Hand-Dug Well Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Ilalu 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.

Water Access Allows Lena to Venture into Farming!

May, 2024

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Ilalu 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!

Fifty-one-year-old Lena Nason recalled what life was like in the Ilalu Community before her community's hand-dug well was implemented last year.

"We depended on the public standpipe and had to purchase the water. We could also rely on very dirty water from an earth dam approximately five kilometers (over 3 miles) away. This water source was open to contamination; hence, community members often fell sick after using that water. Sometimes the earth dam would be overcrowded, especially on weekends and during the driest months of the climate calendar," said Lena.

Collecting water is now simpler and less difficult for Lena and the other community members in Ilalu.

"We no longer waste a lot of time at the earth dam. The long treks are forgotten because this water point is close to my home. We now have water for drinking, cooking, washing, and [are] even [able] to practice agricultural activities. The water now is very clean as it is in a well-protected shallow well. I am capable of carrying as many liters of water as I want because the distance is short, unlike before when I had to walk several kilometers searching for water," continued Lena.

Lena collecting water.

Having ready access to water from the well has made a difference for Lena, allowing her to improve her future.

"In the past year, I have planted numerous trees and ventured into cash crop farming. I have been self-reliable, as I do not buy vegetables from the market anymore. Having my own garden where I practice vegetable farming has seen me through tough hunger times in my community. I have managed to plant kale and spinach for my family. I intend to expand my farming and venture into various marketable crops. When I have accumulated enough money, I will purchase a generator to pump water into my farm," concluded Lena.

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 Ilalu 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 Ilalu 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.