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: 11/23/2022

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:


The group was formed in September 2010. When formed there were 34 households who came together to start the group. The main reasons for forming the group were:

  • The group wanted to improve the environment through soil conservation. By coming together the group wanted to dig terraces that would conserve soil on their farms According to them the lack of terraces had reduced the productivity of their farms leading to continuous cycles of inadequate harvests.
  • The area had severe water shortage. The lack of water had led to the area remaining behind in terms of development. School attendance was severely affected as children skipped school during the long drought periods to assist parents in fetching water or be left at home taking care of other household chores as the parents went to search for water.


Water shortage

The main challenge that the community in the area faces is water shortage. It takes five hours per day for women to fetch water. The main sources of water are the River Athi and Kyangwasi Rivers. The distance to river Athi is about 10 kilometres. This is the main water source during the dry seasons of July to November. River Kwa Ngwasi only has water during the rainy seasons. The river has continued to be eroded away and this has made the time that water is available in the river channel to reduce from 6 months to less than two months. Most of the community members have resulted to fetch water from River Athi that is 10 kilometres away. The quality of water is poor since the river is heavily polluted. This has led to high incidences of water related and water borne diseases in the area.

Due to the lack of water availability in the area the community faces other challenges:

  • The community has continued to lose their livestock. During the dry periods they have to walk long distances in order to get water. Livestock are currently the main economic assets for the community, as continued drought and unreliability of the rainfall patterns make it too difficult to earn a living by farming. With this, many members of the community have shifted from farming to livestock keeping. Hence, the loss of livestock translates to increased poverty in the area.
  • Increased environmental degradation. The community has tried on many occasions to have trees planted in their homesteads. Due to lack of water most of the trees planted have continued to dry up.
  • Poor farming methods. Much of the time is spent in fetching water. 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 gets from fetching water they are tired and cannot engage in farming or in any productive role.
  • 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.


The main type of crops that the community farms are

  • Maize, cowpeas, green grams, sorghum and pigeon peas.

The area depends on rain fed agriculture. In the last four years the area has not received rains and this has led to intense famine and severe food insecurity. Apart from rain shortage the other reason that have led to food insecurity are

  • Poor fertile soils. The area has degraded soils due to erosion. Due to severe soil erosion the crops have not had good harvest.
  • The community has continued to practice traditions planting methods that have led to decreased harvest. The reliance on maize as a staple crop and also as a cash crop has led to decreased harvest due to unreliable rains. The community also lacks knowledge on farming methods that can be practised in the area.
  • Environmental degradation. Soil erosion and the lack of trees have continued to be a main challenge in the area. Soil erosion has led to poor soil fertility whereas due to overstocking of the livestock they have also destroyed the vegetation cover.
  • Increased drought and famine. During the drought period most of the incomes area reduced. Currently the area is coming out of a severe drought period. Due to this most farmers do not have seeds to plant in their farms. The farmers have to get seeds from unscrupulous dealers and the seeds that they plant cannot do well in the area.
  • Lack of tools. The group is currently digging terraces in the area so as to conserve soil from being eroded from their farms. Due to poverty most of the members cannot afford tools that can dig well the terraces on their farms.
  • Pre harvest and post-harvest losses: 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 harvest. 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.

Environmental conservation.

The group has a tree nursery. But the tree nursery has been established at river Athi that is ten kilometres from the area. The groups has to manage the tree nursery from this distance since it’s the only reliable water source that the group has and this has made tree planting in the area expensive.

Other challenges faced in area are:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The area has severe shortage in indigenous tree seedlings that can be used and planted in the area. Most of the tree seedlings that the community plants are not able to be planted in the area and cannot withstand the drought in the area.

With the availability of water the community plans:

  • Increase their income levels. Through the planting of vegetable along the river banks the community and farmers will be able to plant horticultural cops that they will sell and be able to get income. The community also plans to sell the water to other community members in order to generate income to the group.

Water availability will boost the planting of different species of trees that can be used to food and income production.

The group will start a dairy goat project that will be used to improve the local breeds and also generate income for the farmers. At the banks of the sand dam the group will plant fodder for their animals. This will in the long end improve the quality of milk and income generated from their livestock.

Project-Shallow well

Status complete

The shallow well was implemented by Wasya wa Athi self help group at the sand dam site, base 83 (Longitude 037.86876, Latitude 01.86443), which was constructed in October 2012. This shallow well was constructed at Wasya wa Athi in place of a shallow well that had been originally planned for implementation by Ndinzwii self help group; but due to geological challenges  at the Ndinzwii site, the group was not able to implement a shallow well. The geology of the area where they constructed their sand dam would not allow sufficient depth of excavation to enable hand pump installation and therefore the reason it was paired with a different sand dam built by a different group.  To see the Ndinswii sand dam, click here.

Wasya wa Athi self-help group had requested for support to construct a shallow well within this sand dam and therefore benefitted from this project.

Work on this shallow well began in the month of August 2013 (collection of the local materials and digging of the shallow well) and ended in December, 2013.

The shallow well is currently serving Kyangwasi and Utomo Mutheke villages, which have a population of 207 households.

Project Updates

12/02/2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Leonard Nguluma Maloloi

This post is part of a new series by The Water Project meant to highlight the perspectives and experiences of the people we serve and how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them. We invite you to read more of their stories here.

Our team recently visited Kanthuni to conduct COVID-19 prevention training and monitor their water point. Shortly after, we returned to check in on the community, offer a COVID-19 refresher training, and ask how the pandemic affects their lives.

During this most recent visit, Leonard Nguluma Maloloi shared his story of how the coronavirus is impacting his life and his community.

Field Officer Lilian Kendi met Leonard outside his home to conduct the interview. Both Leonard and Lilian observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Leonard’s story, in his own words.

What is one thing that has changed in your community since the completion of the water project?

We have experienced a lot of changes in this community since the installation of this water point. Water diseases such as typhoid are not as rampant as before because we have clean and safe water for drinking from the shallow well. The general environment has also changed since the sand dam project's construction as the water table has been replenished. Our livestock does not have to walk long distances to get drinking water as the water point is adjacent to our homes. Community members have been using the water to plant vegetables such as kales, spinach, and tomatoes. We have plenty of food thanks to this project.

How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?

The availability of clean water has helped us during this period as we now have water for drinking and for washing our hands at all times. We have also been using the water for irrigation purposes, which has helped keep us afloat during this pandemic as we have had food on our farms.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Kenya, has fetching water changed for you because of restrictions, new rules, or your concerns about the virus?

I have encountered several changes regarding fetching water since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country. Now I have to abide by the government's rules and restrictions, such as wearing masks at all times whenever I'm at the water point, handwashing before and after handling the hand pump, and observing social distancing by making queues when fetching water.

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

My children who lived and worked in Nairobi frequently sent remittances before the onset of the pandemic; however, since it set in, they could not send any money due to loss of jobs as most of the companies were downsizing their employees.

What other challenges are you experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Stabilizing the economy has been very gradual as commodities are still pricey due to the Coronavirus pandemic's effects. The second wave of the pandemic has more citizens succumbing to the disease, which is causing a lot of fear in our day-to-day activities. We are keen on observing the rules and regulations as we are afraid of contracting the disease.

What hygiene and sanitation steps have you and your community has taken to stop the spread of the virus?

We have taken several steps to cope with the spread of the virus. Among them are: -Social distancing -Washing hands at all times using clean water and soap -Wearing of masks.

Like most governments worldwide, the Kenyan government continues to set and adjust restrictions both nationally and regionally to help control the spread of the virus.

What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?

I was most excited about the opening of churches and the lift on the age limit as this would enable our children to receive counsel from their elders and know the right ways to follow. We are also allowed to have social gatherings as long as we follow the government's rules and regulations.

What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?

Life is still normalizing, and we are comfortable with the progress of how things are unfolding. I look forward to the schools' opening as our children adopt unhealthy behaviors due to peer pressure, and it isn't easy to control them.

When asked where he receives information about COVID-19, Leonard listed the radio, word of mouth, and our team's sensitization training.

What has been the most valuable part of the COVID-19 sensitization training you received from our team?

The COVID-19 Training and Sensitization was beneficial to my family and me. I learned that handwashing at all times is critical in fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic. Wearing masks is also essential, especially in public places, to protect oneself from exposure to the virus.

How has got food been at this time?

We have had abundant food on our farm thanks to the previous rainy season. The only challenge was purchasing food from retail shops as most shops were closed due to the pandemic. However, using water from the sand dam project, we could engage in small scale farming of vegetables such as kales, spinach, tomatoes, onions, and green pepper.

05/21/2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Wasya wa Athi

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 Wasya wa Athi, 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

Dug Well and Hand Pump

Hand-dug wells are best suited for clay, sand, gravel and mixed soil ground formations. A large diameter well is dug by hand, and then lined with either bricks or concrete to prevent contamination and collapse of the well. Once a water table is hit, the well is capped and a hand-pump is installed – creating a complete and enclosed water system.