Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 520 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2024

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/09/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

In Kalimbui, children missing school is the norm, because women and children are the ones who fetch water, and fetching water is an all-day task due to the far distance and the long lines. But every household needs water, so all 520 people in Kalimbui must sacrifice to keep their families going.

"The distance [to the water point] is very long for me," said 16-year-old Francisca M (shown below). "I have been missing school regularly. Last moon, I prepared very early to go and fetch water. Little did I know that the queue [at] the kiosk had prolonged. I waited and waited for my turn. When finally I got the water, it was too late for me to think of going to school. I felt bad missing my dearest teachers and lessons."

For many families, the trip to fetch water takes hours. And what's worse is that the water kiosk from which they collect water is only open in the mornings. People must leave home before the sun rises to secure any water. Even then, they may end up waiting until the kiosk closes and returning home with empty containers. Households without their own donkey to carry multiple jerrycans must carry one 20-liter jerrycan at a time, which just isn't enough to serve a household even for a day.

"The water situation in my area gives me a headache," said 60-year-old farmer Josephine Mbiti, shown below carrying a full jerrycan away from the water kiosk. "How to get the water is a task too. I don't have a donkey, so I have to borrow [one] from my friends, who charge me two jerrycans of water. This hits me emotionally and financially. At times, when I don't get a borrowed donkey, I have to carry the water using my back. I am forced to buy water most of the time."

But buying water is a huge issue, too, since most people in this area are subsistence farmers. They can't spare adequate water to irrigate their crops. Thus, many crops wither and die before they're harvested because people can only stretch their precious water so far.

And, unfortunately, the kiosk's water is both salty and potentially hazardous, given that many people who drink the water unboiled end up with bloated stomachs. This may indicate that the water is infested with parasites. But fetching water on its own is difficult enough; gathering firewood, starting a fire, and waiting for the water to boil before it can be used expends energy and time that is already greatly reduced.

In a message to our field officers, one community representative explained the community's dreams for their future once they have water. "We can have more [water], such that we are able to engage in vegetable farming. We will also establish kitchen gardens and tree nurseries. Our children will no longer miss school to go and fetch water. We will also improve our hygiene and sanitation levels."

A new water source will do so much for the people of Kalimbui.

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 520 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

February, 2024: Kalimbui Community Hand-Dug Well Complete!

Kalimbui 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.

We will check back with the community in the future to see how their dam and well are functioning.

Community members sit atop the completed well.

"I will no longer be walking for more than three hours to fetch water from the community borehole, which is usually overcrowded. The implemented project is now close to my home, and I will be drawing water even during the drought season. It was frustrating in the past to clean the compound or wash our garments because water had to be used sparingly. Now I will be able to wash my clothes, my grandkid's uniform, and perform other personal hygiene duties," said 65-year-old Josephine Mbiti.

Josephine, by the well.

"This water point will [provide] enough water [to] enable me to cultivate and irrigate trees, vegetables, and various trees. I will also be selling my farm produce to fellow community members, that will earn me an income. My family will now have a nutritious diet and drink clean water that does not expose them to water-related infections like typhoid. I will also be able to improve hygiene and sanitation in my home because there is enough water and time to do so," concluded Josephine.

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.

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 Kalinza 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.

There was good attendance throughout the three training days, averaging 35 people daily. It was held at Josephine's home near the project.

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.

The most memorable topic of discussion was how to make soap and latrine disinfectant and the importance of using both. Community members were excited to learn why hygiene is crucial and the opportunity to generate income by selling their soap products.

Participants learn to make soap.

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 well.

"The group was given the task of listing the activities they wanted to do as far as hygiene and sanitation is concerned, when to do the activity, who will do it, and what will be needed to do the activity. During the activity, we chose a sanitation committee; a set of members who will be in charge of monitoring hygiene practices and implementation of sanitation infrastructures in the member's homesteads. When choosing the committee, one member raised her hand and jokingly advised the group that when choosing the committee, they should be considerate of how clean one is. She said that one cannot be tasked to monitor something they don't meet," shared Field Officer Veronica Matolo.

Participants learn to make a tippy tap handwashing station.

Josephine (quoted above) added, "We came here 'empty,' but now we are going home rich [in] knowledge and information. We have learned many new things that will be very helpful in our lives and help us reduce [the] incidence of diseases. For instance, we didn't know how to make a simple tippy tap like the one we've been shown; it's a special structure that will help us wash our hands after visiting latrines. I also didn't know the importance or how to wash fruits with running water, but now I know."

Josephine Mbiti near the sand dam.

"I'm sure all the members will make sure that they have the sanitation infrastructures like utensil racks for drying our utensils, [a] rubbish pit for dumping all the compound dirt and another one for burning papers and things that don't decay, [a] latrine squat hole cover among other infrastructures that will help us reduce diseases. The skill of soap and latrine disinfectant making will be of very great importance. It will help reduce financial stress and conflicts at home since we will make the two [to] sell to get some income to support our basic needs," she continued.


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!

January, 2024: Kalimbui Community Dug Well Underway!

The lack of adequate water in Kalimbui 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.


6 individual donor(s)