Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Program: Sand Dams in Kenya

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2014

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/13/2024

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 2009. The group has membership of 40 people of which 18 are men and 22 are women. The group members reside in 3 villages which are: Watuka village, Ngomeni village and Kivanga village. The population for each village are 315 for Kivanga, 357 for Watuka and 352 for Ngomeni. The group is located in Mbimbini sub-location, Mbimbini location, Kako division, Mbooni East in Makueni County.

(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.)

Income from agriculture constitute 75%, income from rural self-employment constitute 15% and urban self-employment 8%. The county has three main livelihood zones that can generally be summarized into two, namely marginal mixed farming and mixed farming (coffee/dairy/irrigation or food crops/cotton/livestock).

Reasons for formation:

- Helping each other. The Kamba community have a saying that says one finger cannot kill a louse. Thus coming together they could join hands and solve problems such as lack of school fees, hospital bills.

- Uplifting member’s social welfare. Through table banking they wished to have a kitty which they can borrow soft loans which can boost them. Through this they were able to buy cattle for members.

- Environment conservation. They wanted to conserve the environment through tree planting. Tree planting was a challenge to them due to water scarcity in the area.



The main water sources are rivers: Mbimbini, Thwake and Kaiti. The distances are 1 kilometre, 3 kilometres and 3 kilometres respectively. River Mbimbini only holds water up to the month of June forcing the community members to rely on River Kaiti or Thwake. The water is saline during the dry season. The rivers support a large population because they are the only ones one can get water. The main method of abstraction is through scoop holes. During the dry seasons one spends at least 3 hours to fetch water. The main uses of the water are drinking, cooking and domestic use. Children have to carry water to their schools to support the feeding programme supported by the government.
Water shortage in the area comes with other challenges:

- Time wastage. Community spent more of their time in fetching water during the dry season. Women bear the burden of fetching water making them not to involve themselves in any productive roles. Most of the households are headed by women as most of their husbands have gone to urban areas in search of greener pastures thus leaving the women to manage everything in the homesteads.

- Poor farming methods. Most of the farmers do not have enough time to prepare their farms before the onsets of the rain. They spend most of their time fetching water which is the tall order of the day during the dry season.

- Low personal hygiene. Especially during the dry season the water is not enough to meet all household needs and one is only able to make one trip. So one has to ration water and washing clothes is not done often due to lack of water. Even sometimes they do not take shower daily leading to low hygiene.

- Water for livestock. Our livestock do not have enough water during the dry period of the year. They have to trek to river Kaiti or river Thwake and the road at that time is very dusty affecting their health.


The main crops grown in the area include;
- Maize
- Green grams
- Sorghum
- Cowpeas
- Pigeon peas
- Beans

Food insecurity in the area is caused by the following factors which include:

- Lack of seeds. Most of the farmers rely for seeds from the local markets where the unscrupulous dealers exploit them by selling them seeds which are not drought tolerant. Also the government does not give farmers seeds every time thus most of the time farmers plant late resulting to low yields.

- Unreliable rainfall. Rainfall has been raining for short period and sometimes very late thus not supporting crop production. The rainfall pattern is very unpredictable and is not consistent.

- Lack of tools. Most farmers do not have the tools for terracing their farms. Due to their low income most of the farmers are not able to purchase them. Lack of terraces have led to soil erosion in their farms thus low harvest.

- Pest and diseases. Farmers are struggling with pests and diseases which are affecting crop production. Most of the farmers do not have the money to buy the pesticides for controlling the diseases leading to low yields.


The main types of trees include:
- Lemon
- Mango
- Oranges
- Pawpaw
- Shade trees.

The main challenges faced in tree planting include:

- Termites. Termites pose a big challenge to tree planting because the farmers lack money to buy termite chemicals thus affecting their trees. This demotivates farmers from planting more trees because they end up dying because of termites.

- Lack of knowledge and skills. Most of the community members have little or no knowledge on tree planting thus their tree survival rate is low due poor nursery establishment, sub-standard tree holes and poor spacing of the trees.
• Water problem. During the dry season is when the trees do not get enough water because the community members fetch water for domestic use only due to time spent in fetching water hence trees drying up.


- Terrace digging. The community members wish to terrace their farms after getting tool support. Lack of terraces is a factor contributing to low harvest. Most of the community members lack tools as they are expensive.

- Tree planting. After constructing sand dams the members will plant more trees as they will have water nearby and which is not salty.

- Sand dams. The community members wish to construct sand dams along their river channel. They will use the water for domestic use, trees and for livestock. Also they will dig shallow well near the sand dam so that they can have clean water for drinking all year round.

- Table banking. They group members wish to continue with table banking where they can borrow money borrow soft loans.


This shallow well is now complete.  The well pump was installed at Watuka Village on 11/12/2014.  This well was built in place of a well that was supposed to be constructed in connection with a sand dam built for Wangu Youth Group.  To see that project, click here.

Project Updates

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Watuka Village

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 Watuka, 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.


Barbara Belle Ash Dougan Foundation