Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 300 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/06/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

Community Profile

The 1,200 people living in this area are barely making ends meet, and it's due in large part to the severity of their water crisis.

The closest water source is a staggering eight kilometers (4.97 miles) away. Some residents can only make one trip to the water source daily because of the great distance.

"Sometimes there is no water at home, thus I have to forego classes and remain at home, like today," said eight-year-old Jessica (pictured below). "I also get tired from the long walks to the distant scoop holes and cannot get time to play with friends or study."

Because the water sources are so far away, community members have to stretch a few liters of water across all their possible water uses.

73-year-old farmer Francis Muli (pictured below) has trouble maintaining his cattle farm and garden with so little water. "There is no pasture or enough water due to the water shortage and severe drought," he explained. "Thus, my cattle consume dust, which affects the appendix and makes the cow die. And I have to sell [my cattle] because there is no water for drinking."

What's even worse is that the water they can fetch is salty, brown, and unsafe. The community members dig scoop holes in dry riverbeds in an attempt to reach the only water left in this arid region.

But this water has nothing to recommend it. Once the hole is dug, the water is exposed to wildlife as well as environmental contaminants. Drinking it infects community members with typhoid, cholera, and more. When it's used for bathing and laundry, people develop itchy skin rashes.

"There is little water to cook or drink, and the available option is unsafe, exposing me to infections like typhoid and amoeba," said Francis. "For instance, I often get stomachaches, including today. I have to use water sparingly, which negatively affects my personal hygiene and sanitation."

"The water from the scoop holes is also used by livestock that excrete nearby, thus contaminating it and causing stomach upsets and amoeba," Jessica said.

A nearby water source has the power to transform people's lives. With better health, more time, and more energy, these community members will be able to plan and do better things than just fetching water.

Note: Our proposed water point can only serve 300 people per day. We are working with the community to identify other water solutions that will ensure all 1,200 people in the community have access to safe and reliable drinking water.

What We Can Do:

Our main entry point into this community has been the 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

October, 2023: Kithalani Community Hand-Dug Well Complete!

Thanks to your donation, Kithalani Community, Kenya, now has a new water source! 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.

"Water was very scarce in the past, and I would walk the goats and cattle for more than three kilometers to drink water. During the dry periods, I had to purchase water at 20 Kenyan shillings per 20-liter jerrycan, which is very expensive considering that I depend on farming, which is severely affected by drought. Now things will change because this water point is close to my home. The cattle and goats will have enough water to drink, and I will no longer need to purchase water," said 25-year-old farmer Sammy Kimanzi.

Sammy (center) at the well with other community members collecting water.

"Since this water point is close to my home, I am planning to set up a vegetable farm near the water point, and I will be selling the produce to my fellow community members while keeping some for subsistence use. Livestock will also have better health and subsequently offer better yields because they will no longer spend much energy walking to drink water from distant sources. We will also be selling this water to fellow community members at a reasonable price to acquire funds for our self-help group that would be used to improve the livelihood of each member. For instance, that money could be used as loans for the members to offset school fees or purchase farm inputs," concluded Sammy.

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.) The diameter shrank to 5 feet as planned when the well-lining was complete. This lining is made of brick and mortar with perforations to allow water to seep through. When the well is finished, sand builds up around its walls, filtering 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. 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 concrete steps to get their water. After installing the pump, we gave the well another few days to let the joints dry.

We worked with the Kwa Kisukio Muthini 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 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. We covered natural resource management and the operations and maintenance of the sand dam.

One of the highlights of the training was observing how well the participants understood the need for homes in their community to each have a latrine to help improve the overall hygiene and sanitation of the community. While the group was doing community mapping, where they identified the assets in their community, a discussion broke out about whether a particular homestead in the community had a latrine. One of the participants offered to visit the homestead the following morning to assess the situation. She gladly returned to the group the following morning to report that the homestead had a latrine.

Participants learn how to make soap.

"This training will have a positive effect in the lives of all the members of this group because of several reasons. One, it has practically shown us the importance of having and using latrines together with handwashing. This will help us in [the] prevention and control of fecal-oral route disease transmission. We know the importance of maintaining good personal hygiene, like brushing [our] teeth, keeping short nails, [and] sleeping in a clean bed, among other activities. Being enlightened on water treatment is another special activity that will be very useful in our lives. Treating water will allow us [to] stay healthy, away from waterborne diseases," said 69-year-old Francis Muli.


"We've also learned that it's important to eat healthy. This training has shown us the different types of foods that we can source locally because we have them. This will also keep us healthy, boost our immunity, and be free of diseases. The new skills learned in soap and disinfectant making will help us reduce the cost of living. This is because the money that we've been using to buy expensive soap will now be used to buy the soap that we will be making at a cheaper price, and again, at a personal level, as well as a group, we will generate income," concluded Francis.


This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our in-country teams, and the community members. 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 Kenya, Uganda, and Sierra Leone, we're working toward complete coverage. That means 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!

August, 2023: Kithalani Community 3B Well Underway!

The lack of adequate water in Kithalani Community 3B costs people time, energy, and health every single day. Clean water scarcity contributes to community instability and diminishes individuals’ personal progress.

But thanks to your recent generosity, things will soon improve here. We are now working to install a reliable water point and improve hygiene standards. We look forward to sharing inspiring news in the near future!

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.