Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 300 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2024

Functionality Status:  Functional

Project Features

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In the community of Kithalani, there is a dire need for accessible water. At least 300 community members still have to walk up to a mile to the well and wait in long lines. The only other options are scoop holes (a representative photo can be seen below), which make people ill, stealing their health and time.

"Water is still a challenge to us. Due to [the] huge water need in our community, the available sand dams and shallow wells do not fully cater for [our] water needs; hence, we [need] to construct more sand dams [systems]. In August and September, it is very dry, and our shallow wells run dry due to [the] large number of people depending on them," said Field Officer Jefferson Mutie.

Even though there are sand dams and well systems in the community, they are still a great distance away from many people. Because there are so many people relying on those water points, people end up wasting excessive amounts of time, hoping for a turn to collect water.

"Before, I used to get water from Tyaa River, spending 2 hours to the river and back. The journey was very long and is replicated whenever we have a drought. I remember last year I came to get water, and the shallow well was dry, so I opted [for] a scoop hole, which also never spared me. [I] was forced to revive the old trek to Tyaa River. This triggered my late reporting to school and went on repeatedly as the drought lasted for quite some time," shared Mawia Mutemi, 18, seen below.

"We, the children, are the ones to fetch water whenever it is a dry month. Trekking all the way to River Tyaa makes my life feel [like] a bad one. I wish and adamantly hope that a day shall come when no one in our community will never be worried about fetching water, a day that every community member shall have access to safe, reliable, and clean water throughout the year," continued Mawia.

"I still walk around 1 km (over half a mile) to the river. The distance is big, and having another sand dam and shallow well would be centralized for other community members [and] me. There was a time I took dirty water from the school, [which] sent me to hospital for quite [a few] days. I don't like getting ill; it makes my life very hard and destabilized," said 42-year-old farmer Esther Mwavu, seen below.

Without easily accessible water, people must either waste all their time traveling to overcrowded wells that are potentially dry or long distances to scoop holes that are almost guaranteed to make them sick. Either option makes life unbearable in the Kithalani community.

Installing the hand-dug well will enable people like Esther and Mawia to end wasting time waiting on water or suffering from water-borne illnesses. Esther can prioritize life-improving activities, such as working on her farm. Children like Mawia can improve their attendance and performance in school, giving them a chance at a brighter future.

Helping to solve the water crisis in this community will take a multi-faceted system. It requires the collaboration of the hand-dug well and a sand dam. They will work together to create a sustainable water source that will serve this community for years to come.

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

June, 2024: 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.

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 no longer be walking far to draw water from Tyaa River or the other distant implemented projects because this water point is very close to my home. We will also be able to irrigate our crops using this water because I can even send my grandchildren to fetch water here. There will also be enough water to conduct hygiene chores at home because we can make several trips to this waterpoint," shared 69-year-old farmer Margaret Kithumbi.

"My children will now be drinking clean water, which keeps them healthy and prevents them from contracting water-related infections. I will also be preparing their meals on time since we have enough water. They will also be able to attend school every day because they can carry their drinking water."


"I will be able to cultivate vegetables in my garden, which I will be selling, and use the acquired funds to purchase household items. We will also be selling the water to fellow community members at a reasonable fee and channel the funds to our group's savings program."

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 Lenza Mukuyuni Self-Help Group for this project. The members and their families contributed tremendous amounts of materials and physical labor.

Community members contributing labor.

"The community was enthusiastic during the mobilization of local materials and construction. They came in large numbers to provide their hard labor during the construction which enabled them to complete the construction process within schedule," said Field Officer Alex Koech.

New Knowledge

Our trainer conferred with the field staff about previous household visits and interviews with community members to determine which topics the community could improve upon. Given that this community has completed several projects, it has been determined that refresher training is not necessary at this time. However, we will maintain regular communication with the local leaders to ensure that we are prepared to address any future needs that may arise.


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!

May, 2024: Kithalani Community Hand-Dug Well Underway!

The lack of adequate water in 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.


66 individual donor(s)