Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2024

Functionality Status:  Functional

Project Features

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Community Profile

The 500 people of the Kilela Community spend hours a day struggling to find and collect sufficient water.

"The scoop hole, [the] main source of water in the area, has a low quantity of water. The low quantity of water from the water point has led to quarrels between community members because everyone wants to finish up and concentrate on other affairs. The scoop hole cannot satisfy the entire population, and the situation worsens during peak drought periods," shared field officer Alex Koech.

The scoop holes in the local riverbed are several kilometers away from people's homes. Expending so much physical energy to find and collect water leaves people exhausted, fighting for survival, and unable to accomplish their daily tasks.

"Ndatani River is located far away, and helping my family fetch water in the evening depletes my spare time. Thus, I get little time to concentrate on my homework," said 12-year-old Josphat K. (on the right collecting water in the photo below).

"We have a serious water scarcity problem in our community. I get tired from waking up every morning to fetch water from the distant Ndatani River. I often return home towards [the] late afternoon with little energy and time to focus on activities like tending to my goats, which seem to thrive in the semi-arid climate," said 49-year-old farmer Caroline Mwathai Mumbu, shown below collecting water.

The muddy, sandy water people manage to collect is contaminated, and when they drink it, they often contract water-related illnesses that cause unnecessary suffering and consume their limited resources.

The installation of a dug- well attached to a nearby sand dam will enable people like Josphat and Caroline to collect sufficient, clean water so they can experience better health and maintain their time and resources in hopes of a brighter future.

The Proposed Solution, Determined Together...

At The Water Project, everyone has a part in conversations and solutions. We operate in transparency, believing it benefits everyone. We expect reliability from one another as well as our water solutions. Everyone involved makes this possible through hard work and dedication.

In a joint discovery process, community members determine their most advantageous water solution alongside our technical experts. Read more specifics about this solution on the What We're Building tab of this project page. Then, community members lend their support by collecting needed construction materials (sometimes for months ahead of time!), providing labor alongside our artisans, sheltering and feeding the builders, and supplying additional resources.

Water Access for Everyone

This water project is one piece in a large puzzle. In Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Uganda, we’re working toward complete coverage of reliable, maintained water sources that guarantee public access now and in the future within a 30-minute round trip for each community, household, school, and health center. One day, we hope to report that this has been achieved!

Training on Health, Hygiene & More

With the community’s input, we've identified topics where training will increase positive health outcomes at personal, household, and community levels. We’ll coordinate with them to find the best training date. Some examples of what we train communities on are:

  • Improved hygiene, health, and sanitation habits
  • Safe water handling, storage & treatment
  • Disease prevention and proper handwashing
  • Income-generation
  • Community leadership, governance, & election of a water committee
  • Operation and maintenance of the water point

Project Updates

January, 2024: Kilela Community Hand-Dug Well Complete!

Kilela 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.

Makau (red shirt) pumping water at the new well.

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.

"Fetching water during the weekend, holidays, and after school was very frustrating because I would not get time to play with my friends. It was also dangerous to draw water from [the] scoop hole during drought [periods] because they were dug so deep and could collapse, which further contaminated the water. I am now glad I will get enough drinking clean water nearby and fetching water is easy because I only need to pump the water out," said 12-year-old Makau P.


"Washing garments was occasional because water was used sparingly and mostly for cooking and drinking. Thus, I would wear the same uniform to school for several days, which negatively affected my esteem. I am now glad that we have enough water close to my home, and I will be able to improve my personal hygiene," continued Makau.

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!

Construction begins.

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 Kilela 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.

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 area assistant chief attended the training. He emphasized the importance of hygiene observation, insisting that handwashing, among other practices, is the only thing that keeps one away from diseases.

Learning about a tippy tap hand washing station.

"The training has taught us very important practices like cleaning our compounds, handwashing with clean running water, having a latrine squat hole cover, cooking our food well and keeping it covered, and drinking treated water, among other hygienic practices. This will help us in the prevention and control of fecal-oral route disease transmission," said 50-year-old farmer and chairperson of the water user committee Christine Nzuna Kyumbulo.

Participants learn how to make soap.

"We have also known the importance of maintaining good personal hygiene like brushing teeth, keeping short nails, [and] sleeping in a clean bed with [a] treated mosquito net, among other practices. We have also learned that it is important to eat healthily. This training has shown us the different types of foods that we can source locally because we have them, and it has insisted on the importance of every member having a kitchen garden. This will also keep us healthy, boost our immune systems, and be free of diseases. The new skills learned on soap and latrine disinfectant making will help us reduce the cost of living and foster financial independence. This training is so inclusive; it touches all ages, and I believe everyone reached will change and have healthy and wealthy communities," concluded Christine.


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!

December, 2023: Kilela Community Well Underway!

The lack of adequate water in Kilela 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.


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