Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Program: Sand Dams in Kenya

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2015

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/01/2024

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).

Self-Help Group

The group was formed in 2006 and formally registered in the year 2008. At the time of formation it had 36 members comprised of 7 men and 29 women. Kyeni kya thwake was formed due to the reasons listed below:

- Lack of access to water

- Payment of school fees and hospital bills

- Poor housing

- Desire to take part in community lending activities

Economic activities

Their economic activities include:

- Farming

- Basketry

- Trade

- Goat-keeping

Current activities

The group is engaging in the following activities namely:

- Digging terraces

- Tree planting

- Buying goats

- Establishing tree nursuries

Water security

The main sources of water are river Thwake and river Ngwane. The distance is 5km respectively for both rivers. On average during the dry period, one spends 6-7 hours to fetch water. During the dry season deep wells are dug across the river channels which pose a threat to the community members.

The members are not able to irrigate food crops and vegetables due to lack of water which if available would improve their food and incomes security.

There are isolated cases of school children who get raped when they go to fetch water in the evenings. Water from these rivers is relatively salty and often leads to water borne diseases hence not safe for drinking.

Food security

Food security in the area is relatively low. The main crops grown in the area include: Maize, beans, green grams, pigeon peas, and cowpeas.

Crop production is low due to poor rainfall and lack of seeds. The group have the knowledge and practises concerning the use of manure and building terraces.

The often practised method of agriculture is mixed farming and intercropping.

Environmental conservation

They have knowledge on and practise tree planting. They have planted both eucalyptus and bougainvillea.

They have firewood shortage, some buy and others collect firewood from nearby bushes.

Climate change

In the recent past they have been experiencing changes in weather which has resulted to low farm yields. One of the coping strategies, the community is growing drought resistance crops.

There is minimal harvest due to drought. Famine has resulted to malnutrition to children and poor school attendance.

Income generation 

Their sources of income are: Basketry, farming, casual labor, trade, and selling vegetables.

Low income has resulted in drug use and early pregnancies as people are not able to access higher education due to lack of fees.

Future plans

- To construct water tanks and sand dams

- To pump water to a tank near homesteads

- To plant trees

- To dig terraces

- To buy goats

Background Information

Back in June 2014, a group came and built a sand dam in order to implement fish farming. The dam project was meant to increase fish available for consumption by the community. The dam was also used to irrigate farms' growing vegetables. But between fishing and farming, the high demand of the dam's water started straining the source.


Because of water's high demand in this area, there is now a need for a hand pump that reaches the water table and alleviates the strains on the dam. This well water will instead be used for domestic and drinking purposes.


The digging of the shallow well began on 9/21 and ended on 10/8. It was dug by one male and five females who were able to excavate down to 12 feet. The construction and walling of the pit was done from 10/14 to 10/28, and the hand pump was installed the day after.

Project Result

Please note that though the shallow well seems to be an island in the river, this will not last long. As the sand dam matures, it will absorb the water so that it is no longer an above-ground body, but all stored below.

Now that the community has a shallow well, they will be able to better manage their water resources. The dam raises the water table so that the shallow well can pump water, and the well alleviates the strain that fish farming has on the dam. This well will also ensure that the water that families drink is clean and safe to drink. This would not have been possible without your generosity!

The Water Project and Kyeni Kya Thwake Thank You for unlocking even more opportunities for their community.

We're just getting started, check back soon!

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.




Ipenburg Family
Baylor University