Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 300 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Dec 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/18/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

Those who live farthest from the water source in Kithalani have a history of failed crops - they just can't gather enough water throughout the day to serve all their household needs and irrigate their crops as well.

Unfortunately, this makes perfect sense since those on the extreme edges of the community face at least a two-hour journey each time they go to fill their jerrycans. Not only do they have less to feed their families and less income, but they must also purchase supplementary food from their neighbors or nearby markets. For this community of 800, comprised mostly of subsistence farmers, this is a heavy blow. And that's not all that plagues the people who were not blessed to live close to any of the sand dam and shallow well constructions in this region.

"Fetching water from the current water points is difficult and tiring because it is located far away from my home," said 43-year-old farmer William Musyoka (shown below). "I have recently been asked by [my] doctor to avoid too much work; however, I still have to walk to the water point to fetch water for drinking, cooking, and irrigating my crops. I often reap low yields. For instance, most of my vegetables have dried up due to lack of water."

Because William is a member of a Self-Help Group that we've worked with before, he knows that households need proper hygiene and sanitation facilities and habits to prevent illness. But unfortunately, he just hasn't been able to apply the measures he knows would help his family.

"Improving hygiene and sanitation has been difficult because we have to use water sparingly," William explained. "I cannot even remember the last time I cleaned my house using water."

And adults aren't the only ones affected by the water crisis. Kids who live on the outskirts of Kithalani miss school often because the journey to the water source takes too long, and they are not allowed to attend school without carrying a container of water with them.

"I do not get enough time to play or study because I have to help my family in fetching the water," said eight-year-old Peter M (shown above). "Walking several kilometers to the water point is straining, which leaves [me] less energy to focus on studies. For instance, I have just come from school, and I am helping my father fetch water to irrigate his vegetables. I will also have to fetch water to carry to school tomorrow."

Removing the long trips to the water source will give the community members of Kithalani hours per day. It will allow them to keep some of their energy in reserve for important things like farming, studying, and playing.

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 800 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

December, 2023: Kithalani Community Hand-dug Well Complete!

Kithalani 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.

Elated for easy water access!

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 spend less time and energy when fetching water because my donkey will not be getting tired from the long walks to the previous water point. My self-confidence will also improve because I will have enough water to wash my clothes or perform other personal hygiene duties. I will also be drinking clean water that does not expose me to infections like typhoid and amoeba thus ensuring my optimum health," said 16-year-old Mawia M.

Mawia M.

"This water point is very close to my home and I will be able to try out the knowledge that I acquired from the agriculture project. I will also plant trees in our farmland because I will be able easily draw water from this water point. I will also be taking my meals on time because water will always be available for cooking which will ensure optimum health. I would feel exhausted everytime I took the animals to drink water because of the long journey but that will be no longer the case because this water point is nearby," she continued.

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, which will filter the rainwater stored behind the dam.

Digging the well and constructing the lining.

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.

Building up the walls.

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.

Completed shallow well.

We worked with the Lenza Mukuyuni 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-Help Group in the past, we asked them about the subjects they most needed refresher training on.

"This training is and will be of great importance to us, for it will change our lives greatly. It has reminded us of the things that we had relaxed in doing. We have new members who have learned a lot, and they have benefited as well. To begin with, when we were trained the first time like two years ago, diseases have gone down. This training has helped us in that some did not know how to construct a tippy tap, but now they know handwashing after visiting latrines is guaranteed. Constructing squat hole covers for our latrines, water treatment, maintaining good hygiene in our water sources, and digging a rubbish pit will help us prevent unwanted diseases," said farmer Mutanu Muthui, 53.

Mutanu Muthui

"A healthy community is a wealthy one; money we use to seek treatment can be used on other useful things. The skill of soap making has helped us generate income as a group, and for the new members they will be able to make it on their own, generate money, and meet their needs at a personal level. This training will help us change the entire community through our hygienic actions; neighbors have been and will be learning from us, and that way, we will promote good hygiene practices," Mutanu continued.

The training was held in a location convenient for all participants. Though there were fewer participants than originally planned, 16 involved community members attended.

Refresher training

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. Finally, we covered natural resource management and the operation and maintenance of the sand dam.


This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our in-country teams, and the community members. 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 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!

November, 2023: Kithalani Community Hand-Dug Well Underway!

The lack of adequate water in the Kithalani 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.