Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Program: Sand Dams in Kenya

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2015

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/29/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

This project is a part of our shared program with Africa Sand Dam Foundation. Our team is pleased to directly share the below report (edited for clarity, as needed).


Vinya wa Mwau self-help group is a group of 25 members, 6 men and 19 women, with a committee of 9, 4 men and 5 women. The group was formed in 1998 and registered in the year 2002. The group is located in Mukimwani village with  a population of 711 people 208 men 209 women and 294 children. Sub location is Mukimwani, location Kalimani, Kisau division , Mbooni East sub county , Makueni county. The household mean members are 5.2 and the mean age of the members interviewed is 48.7   years ranging from 27 to 70 years years.

(Editor's Note: While this many people may have access on any given day, realistically a single water source can only support a population of 350-500 people. This community would be a good candidate for a second project in the future so adequate water is available. To learn more, click here.)

Reasons for group formation

The members came together to find ways they could lift each other up. Water availability was scarce and they wanted to find ways they could find water in their vicinity. Current group activities are merry go round (community fund-sharing method), they have plastic chairs which they hire among themselves, and tree nursery projects.

Economic activities

The community members said they rely on farming. Seventeen of the members said that farming is their main economic activity. Other economic activities in the region are livestock keeping and doing casual jobs.


The main water sources for the community is the river Kyathei which is less than 1km away, Ndumanu earth dam which is less than 1 km away, and the river Thwake which is 5km away. Everyone in the community relies on the river Thwake and the river Kyathei for drinking water. For household chores like cooking, washing and for livestock, 42% go to Ndumanu earth dam while 58% rely on river sources.

The people spend 2 to 3 hours each day in the river Kyathei during the dry season as they have to dig deep scope holes to get water. The earth dam is usually crowded, which is why they don’t use it for drinking purposes.


The mean acreage of the land under food production for the community members is   2.23 acres.

The members grow mainly food crops which are:

- maize

- pigeon peas

- cow peas

Food security in the region is affected by lack of reliable rainfall. A great majority of the people (84%) said that they plant and the rains usually end before their crops reach maturity leading them to eat the food while they are green in the shamba leaving them with no food to harvest and keep in store for the next season.

In the  last two year no members of the group had any training on improved farming practices. 10% said they had dug terraces in the last season and the reason was to conserve soil erosion. 90% said that they had not dug terraces and the reason was that they lacked knowledge on digging standard terraces in their farms.

Crops grown by the group in the last season were cow peas with a mean of 35 kg , sorghum with a mean of 36 kg, green grams with a mean of 3.5 kg, and Pigeon peas with a mean of 122 kg.

Tree planting

Fourteen of the members interviewed plant trees.

Survival of the trees planted is minimal. The farmers said that termite infestation and lack of reliable water for tree planting were the main reasons the survival was affected


The shallow well excavation was done simultaneously with the sand dam construction. Four workers walled the well and installed the hand pump. This work was completed by mid-November, and now the well can draw water captured by the sand dam. Looking at the pictures, you might worry that the water coming out of the new pump looks dirty. That is only because the whole system, made up of the sand dam and shallow well, is still very new. As the dam matures and fills with sand, that sand actually acts as a filter, cleaning the water the collects behind the dam. In time, the water coming from this well will be crystal clear.


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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.