Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 200 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/09/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

The 200 people who live in Ngomeni can never get enough water to meet all their needs because fetching water consumes so much of their time and energy.

The typical trip to collect water takes one to two hours as fetchers must cover kilometers of hilly, arid ground to reach the nearest dry riverbed. There, community members have dug scoop holes into the earth to reach brown, salty water that makes them sick.

"There is inadequate water for drinking or cooking, let alone irrigating crops," said our field officer, Alex. "Thus, residents exhibit poor health. Water [from] the scoop hole is also unsafe for drinking since it is exposed to animal and wind contamination, such as animal excretion and dust."

This incredibly difficult water crisis has compounding negative effects for the people who live in Ngomeni.

"I waste a lot of time and energy fetching water from the scoop hole because it is about four kilometers (2.48 miles) from my home," said 45-year-old farmer Martha Ndunge Syanda (shown in the above photo). "Once in a while, my children complain of stomach upsets and have to be absent from school. Farming yields are mostly low because of the rampant drought and insufficient rainfall. Water also has to be used sparingly at home, which has led to poor hygiene and sanitation."

Because the journey to the water sources takes such a long time, community members are left without much time or energy for farming, which is this area's main source of livelihood. So when water is scarce, they don't have the money to purchase water from local vendors. And when their loved ones are sick, they can't buy medicine.

"There is little water to drink and cook; thus, I usually [have] one meal daily," said six-year-old Daryl (shown below).

"I have also contracted infections like amoeba and typhoid in the past after consuming water from the scoop hole. I also get little time to play with my friends or study because I need to help my mother to fetch water from the scoop hole during my free time."

And in drought periods, accessing water becomes even harder. The scoop holes dry up, and people must travel even farther for water or scrounge up funds that they can't spare.

The people of Ngomeni need a closer water source so that they can reclaim their lost time and health. Water will help them keep themselves and their homes clean, therefore improving their living standards. With these newfound blessings, doors will begin to open for them that they once thought were closed forever.

What We Can Do:

Reliable Water

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

November, 2023: Ngomeni Community Hand-Dug Well Complete!

Ngomeni 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.

"I had to accompany my mother to fetch water from far away, and I would return home feeling exhausted, with my legs aching from the long journey," said 13-year-old Monicah H.

"I will now have more time and energy to play with my friends or study during weekends, holidays, and after school because drawing water from this shallow well only takes a few minutes. I will also get enough for drinking, and meals will always be prepared at home on time. I will also use water to wash my garments and look neat. I am glad I will now wear [a] clean uniform to school. I will also get more time to focus on my studies because I will no longer be absent due to [a] lack of water to carry to school," concluded Monicah.

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 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 Lila 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 their previous household visits and interviews with community members to determine which topics the community could improve upon.

Part of the training was being introduced to how to make soap and latrine disinfectant. While stirring the soap, the participants sang traditional work songs to motivate them. They are excited about the newfound knowledge that they hope to turn into an income-generating project.

Participants were very excited about the soap-making session, which was their first common income-generating activity. "While stirring the soap, the members sang traditional work songs to motivate them," said field officer Alex Koech.

We also touched on health problems in the community, good and bad hygiene behaviors, the spread and prevention of disease, and sanitation improvements. Finally, we covered natural resource management and the operation and maintenance of the sand dam.

When discussing water treatment, some of the participants shared myths about water treatment they believed were true.

"For example, some said when water is treated using [the] boiling method, it is termed as 'dead water' and might not add any value in the body. After a lengthy discussion about water hygiene, the members were discouraged from believing in such myths and were encouraged to embrace water treatment as an easy way of preventing the spread of diseases," said Alex.

Titus Thyaka.

"We have learned new ideas which will help us prevent diseases. For example, I have learned how to treat drinking water and wash my hands properly, among other things. I will apply this knowledge and even train others. In addition, we have been trained on how to make soap and a latrine disinfectant. The soap project will enable us [to] generate an income for our group. We are very happy and grateful," said 70-year-old farmer and chairperson of the water user committee Titus Thyaka.


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: Ngomeni Community Hand-Dug Well Project Underway!

The lack of adequate water in Ngomeni Community 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.


Project Sponsor - Barbara Belle Ash Dougan Foundation