Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Program: Sand Dams in Kenya

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2014

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 09/12/2023

Project Features

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Community Profile

This project is being implemented by our partner African Sand Dam Foundation, and is focused on the construction of a shallow well with hand pump, and corresponding community education programs.

Below is project information direct from our partner:


Nzengu Ngomani self-help group was formed in 2012 and has a total of 29 members. The main reason that led to formation of the group was water problems, soil conservation and tree planting. Also they have a merry go round (internal saving and lending group), which helps them in improving their socio-economic status.

Economic activities

  • Farming
  • Livestock keeping
  • Poultry keeping



The main water sources in the area are in River Mutinyani, Ilawani water project, Miiui earth dam and Kilimanjaro water project. River Ngoloosi is situated 2.5 kilometres away from the community and Miiui earthdam is 4 kilometres away from the community. It takes three hours to fetch water from River Mutinyani and 4-5 hours from the water projects.  During the dry period from August to October one has to dig deep scoop holes in order to get water and the little water available tends to turns saline during the period, making water undrinkable.

Due to lack of water availability in the area the community suffers others challenges:

  • Women have continued to lag behind in development matters since the burden of fetching water remains on them. Most women spent time in fetching water for use in their homes. Due to the distance and time required for this activity most women have no time to take part in other basic activities.
  • Poor farming methods. Much of the time is spent in fetching water for the farm. The situation is extremely adverse during the dry season. This has led to the neglect of the farms and other areas of the community lives. By the time one returns from fetching water they are tired and cannot engage in farming or in any productive role.
  • Famine and drought. Most farmers depend on rain fed agriculture to grow crops. The lack of alternative methods for growing food has led to increased food insecurity in the area.


The main type of crops that the community farms are

  • Maize, cowpeas, green grams, sorghum and pigeon peas, Dolichous lab lab and beans.

Rain shortages have reduced yields on farms hence increasing food insecurity levels in the area. Apart from the other reasons that have contributed to food insecurity is:

  • The community has continued to practice traditional planting methods that have led to decreased harvest. The reliance on maize as a staple crop and cash crop has led to decreased harvest due to unreliable rains. The community also lacks knowledge on farming methods that can be practiced in the area.
  • Pre harvest and post-harvest losses: the crops are destroyed by pests before harvest. The group does not have knowledge on how to control and prevent pests from destroying the crops. After the crops are harvested they also lack post-harvest preservation skills. Weevils therefore destroy the majority of harvests. To prevent further losses from the weevils most farmers dispose off their produce at low prices thus returning to the viscous cycle of food insecurity and poverty.
  • Lack of good seeds for planting. Frequent droughts have affected the ability of the community to preserve seeds for their planting needs. Due to this the farmers have reduced the size of land under farming and only plant reduced sizes of land


The group is currently doing a tree program but they are facing the challenges below:

  • The lack of access to water for irrigating the trees planted. Due to water insecurity and unreliability in the rainfall patterns in the area the tree survival rate is still low. Most trees dry up due to lack of water for irrigating the trees
  • The lack of knowledge and information on tree management. Most farmers lack the skills on how to establish the tree nurseries and even care for the trees after they have planted them. This has reduced the survival rate of the trees in the area.
  • Termite infestation. The area has high incidence of termite that destroy the trees. The community lack the ability to control termite from destroying their crops.


They intend to create water security through the building of sand dams. The aim of having the sand dam is to improve the availability of water for farming, for our livestock and improved incomes for the community. Having water we have the capacity to engage in commercial farming.

The community also seeks to have knowledge and skills that can empower them so as to be able to have resilient communities against the changing weather patterns.


Nzengu Ngomani SHG has already built two sand dams. During lasts year planning process the group requested to be supported with the construction of shallow wells as a means of abstracting clean water from the sand dams.

Kisimani Self help group was not able to implement the shallow well attached to their sand dam due to the geology of the area where they constructed their sand dam. The basement rock (hard to dig through) existing in this area would not allow the sinking of the shallow well to a sufficient depth that would enable water to filter into and as well enable the installation of a hand pump.

Since Nzengu Ngomani self-help group had requested for support to construct two shallow wells within their already constructed sand dams when it was not possible to implement the above shallow well in Kisimani, Nzengu Ngomani was considered for the alternative support.  To see the Kisimani sand dam, click here.


The digging of the shallow well and collection of the local materials to enable lining of the well began on September 30th, 2013 ending on the November 1, 2013. The overlap in digging of the shallow wells was as a result of the community hiring labourers to support them with the excavation works.

The lining of the shallow well to enable hand pump fitting started on November 15th, 2013. The community provided the unpaid labour that was required to mix cement, sand and as pass construction stones to the artisan. The fitting of the hand pump on the shallow well was done on the November 27th, 2013.

Current Project status

The shallow well is currently working well with a good water yield to support the inhabitants within the area. It is serving the village of Mwanyani. Currently the area is facing a severe water stress and this has been life much easier for the communities since the shallow well is also a main source of water.

Project Updates

July, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Nzengu Ngomani

Our teams are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us in our fight against the virus while maintaining access to clean, reliable water.

We are carrying out awareness and prevention trainings on the virus in every community we serve. Very often, our teams are the first (and only) to bring news and information of the virus to rural communities like Nzengu Ngomani, Kenya.

We trained community members on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19.

Due to public gathering concerns, we worked with trusted community leaders to gather a select group of community members who would then relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

We covered essential hygiene lessons:

- Demonstrations on how to build a simple handwashing station

- Proper handwashing technique

- The importance of using soap and clean water for handwashing

- Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces including at the water point.

We covered COVID-19-specific guidance in line with national and international standards:

- Information on the symptoms and transmission routes of COVID-19

- What social distancing is and how to practice it

- How to cough into an elbow

- Alternative ways to greet people without handshakes, fist bumps, etc.

- How to make and properly wear a facemask.

During training, we installed a new handwashing station with soap near the community’s water point,

Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we also dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the disease and provide extra information where needed.

Water access, sanitation, and hygiene are at the crux of disease prevention. You can directly support our work on the frontlines of COVID-19 prevention in all of the communities we serve while maintaining their access to safe, clean, and reliable water.

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.