Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 4,500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2023

Functionality Status:  Low/No Water or Mechanical Breakdown

Last Checkup: 03/15/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

In Ngungani, everyone's days revolve around water - or, really, lack of water. The long journey to the water source and water-related illnesses leave the 4,500 residents with little time for anything else.

The closest water source is a river that is seven kilometers (4.34 miles) away. In this drought-stricken, semi-arid region, the river is dry for most of the year, so rather than simply dipping their containers into a pool of water, community members must dig down to reach the brown, salty water beneath the surface of the riverbed.

"Women and children wake up as early as four in the morning to go fetch [water] at the distant Iguini River to avoid the scorching sun and get more time to engage in activities like cooking, livestock-keeping, or land preparation," said our field officer, Alex.

If community members can afford donkeys, they load jerrycans on the animals' backs to get more than one jerrycan of water at a time. But those who can't afford any livestock walk almost nine miles just for 20 liters of water.

According to the World Health Organization, people drink an average of two liters of water per day, which doesn't count the amount used for personal hygiene or household tasks. In this community of farmers, it's also common for households to keep livestock if they have enough money. Every day, livestock consume roughly 20–30 liters per large or medium animal or five liters per small animal.

Within hours, that single jerrycan of water will have vanished. 

As you can imagine, the lack of water makes just about everything difficult for Ngungani's residents.

"The exhaustion...leaves little energy to concentrate on farming," Alex continued. "The school-going children are also often late to class because they have to fetch water on their way to school. The current unstable and unpredictable weather and long drought have also affected the residents' farming patterns, leading to seeds rotting in the fields. Conducting personal and household hygiene and sanitation is an affair for special occasions (like Sabbath days) because water is used sparingly."

Eight-year-old Dorcas (pictured below) is one of the school-going children Alex mentioned.

"Water at home is scarce, and when there is none, my parents cannot prepare food," Dorcas said. "We only take one or two meals per day depending on the water availability at home, and [our] farm produce. I have to bear with the thirst and sometimes forego my classes when there is no water at home. These uncomfortable conditions have contributed to my dismal academic performance in school, thus limiting opportunities [for] better careers and livelihoods."

"The hostile water crisis has made it difficult to conduct proper hygiene and sanitation (personal, dental, and household)," said 70-year-old Gabriel Kilonzo Maluki (pictured below).

"Getting water to drink or cook is strenuous, let alone for irrigation," Gabriel continued. "I had set up a tree nursery, but most of the seedlings have succumbed to the unforgiving drought and severe water scarcity. My cattle and goats are also negatively [impacted] because there is no pasture to feed them or enough water to drink. During the previous drought season, I had to sell some of my goats at a throwaway price before they could succumb to the sore semi-arid climate."

"The proposed sand dam and shallow well project will raise the water aquifers and offer the residents clean water to drink," Alex said. "There will be enough water to irrigate the crops, offering the self-help group members food security and a source of income when they sell their farm produce to other community members. The community members will easily access the water point because it is close to their homes, and spend the extra time and energy on income-generating activities like farming. They could also make more trips and get enough water to improve household hygiene and sanitation."

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 4,500 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

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

Ngungani 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 now be able to easily drink clean water which really makes me happy because I will no longer have to walk several kilometers to Tana River to fetch unclean water. I will also be able to irrigate vegetables to supplement my family's diet, and my cattle and goats will have [a] nearby place for drinking water. I will be selling the vegetables to fellow community members, and I will no longer be exposed to water-related infections like typhoid or amoeba because this water point will provide clean water," said 58-year-old farmer Peter Kilonzo Mukiti.


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 Ngungani Horticulture 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.

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. As part of one of the sessions, we worked with the community to build a tippy tap handwashing station.

A tippy tap handwashing station.

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.

“The first impact of this training will be reduction of diseases. Water treatment will also be practiced to enable us [to] reduce or prevent waterborne diseases which are very common in our area. Again, through the construction of a tippy tap in every home, it will enable us [to] wash our hands in all the critical moments that have been taught, and this will as well help in [the] reduction of disease transmission," said 71-year-old Gabriel Kilonzo Maluki, chairperson of the water user committee.



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!

August, 2023: Ngungani Community 1B

The lack of adequate water in Ngungani Community 1B 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.


1 individual donor(s)