Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  Decommissioned

Project Features

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Community Profile

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

Background Information

This area has approximately 994 community members. (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 great candidate for a second project in the future so adequate water is available. To learn more, click here.)

The Kyeni kya Maluini Self-Help Group was formed by members of Katumani Village. Village self-help groups always have the aim to mutually encourage and help other members of the community, particularly farmers. These farmers form a coalition to pull each other out of challenges that are common in Kenya, such as drought, consequent crop failure, or physical illness. The self-help group also seeks to help their village grow together through merry-go-rounds (group loans and savings plans) and planting trees.

The group is situated at the top of a hill where topography is steep and rocky. The main economic activity is farming, and the community's households also keep livestock to help generate more income. The poverty rate of the area is 60%. Water insecurity is the greatest challenge faced; fetching water can take four to five hours per day!

The distances traveled to the nearest drinking water point are approximately eight to 10 kilometers. The most one traveler can fetch at a time is four 20-liter jerricans on a donkey's back. Each day, this journey to the water point leaves community members exhausted and unable to attend to any other work. Due to this heavy burden related to fetching water, there is a huge neglect of farms, households, and other important activities. School-going children miss school frequently to assist parents with fetching water. This has caused the standards of education and performance of schools in this area to be very low. Local farmer and self-help group member Mary Mutinda says, "Without water we are suffering a lot. We usually suffer from colds and flus during the long dry period due to dust on the way to fetch water. A lot of resources are spent on treating the flus which also affect out livestock."

The group's past performance related to soil conservation were evidence of their resilience and determination to use their own efforts and materials in initiating projects. Strong leadership and clear focus despite challenges was heavily considered during several consultation forums between ASDF and the self-help group; ASDF has deemed Kyeni kya Maldini a group worth building a relationship with. They continue to work together to understand how to build a working relationship and implement the most effective solutions for Katumani Village.

Sanitation Situation

Over 75% of households in Kyeni kya Maluini Self-Help Group's area have pit latrines. However, it was observed that most of the pits are much too shallow and do not have covers to keep out the flies and smells. Some households have hand-washing stations, and almost half have dish racks and clotheslines. Family units dig shallow pits where they dispose of garbage, and occasionally burn its contents when too full.

This village will greatly benefit from hygiene and sanitation training; participants will learn about how they can best use the resources they already have to stay clean, safe, and healthy. They will be encouraged to improve latrines, add hand-washing stations, and build dish racks and clotheslines.

Training Sessions

The self-help group will be trained over the course of three days. After the initial visit to the area, the facilitator decided to highlight the following topics:

  • When and how to wash hands
  • Proper water treatment and storage

The facilitator will teach the above and many other hygiene and sanitation topics using the PHAST (Participatory Health and Sanitation Training) method, presentations, demonstrations, on-site training, and a transect walk. The transect walk will teach locals to watch for practices that go on and facilities that are present related to good health and hygiene. Sometimes, a participant feels shame when the group arrives at their household and points out things that are unhealthy or unhygienic; but in Kenya, this affects people to make a positive change.

The community will also learn about the contribution they need to make in order for this project to be successful. They must collect the locally available materials such as sand and rocks, delivering them to the project site. Able-bodied community members will also have to volunteer to construct the well, which is estimated to take up to three months.

The Project

Since the community members have to travel so far for their water, the goal is to construct something much closer. A sand dam was recently constructed by a different group and is much closer to the village, so we plan to install the shallow well adjacent to this dam. The dam will collect sand over time and naturally filter water and raise the water table. A shallow well will safely access the water under the riverbed. This well will be lined with concrete and fitted with an Afridev pump.

The self-help group is located on hilly terrain, so the collection of material is expected to be a challenge. The average age of community members is also high at 65, and the predominant gender is female. Constant planning and mobilization of people will be focused on to ensure quality implementation of this project.

"The sand dam has brought water closer to us and with the well coming, we will have even drinking water. This will make our lives easier," says self-help group member Tabitha Mule.

Project Results


The training was held in the home of one of the group members. It was organized by the Monitoring department in consultation with the community on which days would be most convenient for them. The consultations also included deciding the best place to hold the meeting.

A total of 50 Community members participated in the training. That includes members of the self help group plus members of the surrounding communities who expressed interest in being trained on the management of water structures and the basics of hygiene and sanitation. This is quite remarkable and in increases the number of people with knowledge in the region.

The following were the objectives of the training:

  • Demonstrate the relationship between sanitation and health status
  • Encourage community members to manage water and sanitation facilities
  • To help the community members improve hygiene behavior
  • Enhance community capacity to prevent diarrhea diseases
  • Empower the community members to plan environmental improvements and to own and operate water and sanitation facilities

In order to achieve these objectives, the workshop facilitators adopted a synergy of methods. Small group discussions, role plays, pairing, demonstrations, and action planning were used to allow for a critical interchange of ideas, to stimulate learning and to establish an ongoing follow up through the process.

The training process enabled the participant realize that there was a connection between good health and hygiene practices. They were motivated to change behavior out of the realization that their actions will not only improve their general health but will also have other benefits like a cleaner environment, less hardship, and recognition from others, among other benefits. Enabling factors like skills, time, and means will determine if these best hygiene practices will indeed be taken up. Follow up on the implementation of the action plans developed by the community is therefore necessary to offer support, technical or otherwise, as the community takes steps towards improvement of sanitation and hygiene behavior.

"The training is one of the most important training I have ever attended. It discussed health issues i used to take for granted," said Veronica Mutinda, one of the participants.

Shallow Well Construction

Shallow well construction commenced on the 11th of January with walling of the shallow well pit from being filled with mud deposits during the rain season. All members of the group took part in the excavation of the pit which was also the main activity of the project. The group managed to recruit more members and they involved the entire community in the mobilization of the materials. This was quite recommendable since the benefits of water will be accrued by all. The group motivated the community by mobilizing money to pay two people who were able to excavate more depth within a short period of time. The community contributed to the paying of the people involved in the digging of the pit.

The community also provided the labor and local materials needed to have the project done. They participated in the excavation of the shallow well pit. The excavation was done in phases due to the weakness of the walls. Care and precaution had to be taken to prevent accidents. The sand dam is located up hill hence the community had to transport the local materials using donkeys and their backs. Due to the involvement of the community, much was achieved within a short time. The hand pump fittings and installation was done in the month of March.

The work presented a challenge early in the excavation process. A hard basement rock was reached after 3 feet from the surface. The excavators have been filling the well with water to ensure that the rock softened causing them to skip some days of the excavation work. This delayed the process a number of days.

Martha Mbithi Kyengo commented, "We will now rest our back from the steep journeys we used to make carrying water on our backs since now water will be close."

The community committee will regulate on the usage and schedule for collection of water. They are also in charge of regulating the price to be charged per jerrican. The money is supposed to be kept in an account that helps in fixing or repairs in case of breakdowns. The committee has and will continue to regulate the means of fetching water from the points. Restrictions have been put in place to avoid livestock from overcrowding the shallow well.

The height of the well as seen in the pictures below is to accommodate an increase in the height of the nearby dam in the future. As the dam is increased, the level of sand in the riverbed will also increase. The high well platform enables this to happen without having to rebuild the well.

Thank You to all who made this project possible. Thank You for unlocking potential!

Project Updates

04/21/2020: A new direction for Kyeni kya Maluini self help group's well

Projects, like water itself, are fluid.

Sometimes there are unique circumstances that can neither be resolved nor reversed that turn a well-loved water point into one that has failed to meet the expectations of both the community it serves and our own commitment to help provide access to safe and reliable water.

Unfortunately, the hand-dug well is no longer meeting the water needs of Katumamni Village, despite repeated efforts, spent resources, and a lot of patience from the community and our team.

This well in Katumamni Village has had challenges over the years, and multiple visits, repairs and exploring root causes for the issues (which were exacerbated during the drought conditions last year), we determined that the rock formation didn’t allow the well to be deep enough to be viable year-round. We observed that at best, the well was providing water a few months after the rains, and then was dry.

Because of this unique combination of factors, The Water Project, community members, and local leaders decided together that decommissioning this well was the best course of action. As a result, we will no longer make monitoring visits to this well.

But that’s not the end of the story!

We made the difficult decision to re-site the well in another community where the soil and rock were better suited to support a year-round well. And for the Kyen kya Maluini self-help group members, through the sand dam and well program, they have constructed two other wells from which they are drawing clean 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.

"The sand dam has brought water closer to us and with the well coming, we will have even drinking water."

Tabitha Mule


Project Sponsor - Alan and Lesley Pedersen