Kisaila New Well Project

Regional Program:
Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Latitude -1.51
Longitude 37.35

500 Served

Project Status:

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Stories and 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).

Background Information

Kisaila Self-Help Group was formed in the year 2011 by 24 females and 14 males. The average size of each household is six. 32% of people are in the age bracket of 18‐35 years, while 36% are of the ages 35‐60 years and 32% are of the ages of 60 and over. This is a balanced group in terms of having both the youthful and the elderly; a perfect blend for executing heavy work such as building a sand dam! The elderly provide wise counsel while the youth use their hands and feet.

The population of this area is estimated to be 790 community members who come from 38 different households. (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.)

The group united to find ways of improving their living situation. The main activities that the group engage in include welfare services such as merry-go-round (collecting finances that are given to one member each month), and supporting each other with farming. Of particular concern to the group was the drying up of their main water source.

The Current Source

“This place is always very hot and dry during the dry seasons of the year. Usually, water becomes a major challenge in this time… Worse still is that this water is not clean for human consumption, but we have no choice. Cases of waterborne  diseases such as typhoid, amoeba are very high in this area. Am certain that with water from the sand dam which has a protected shallow well will be safe for us to drink. We will witness a drop of these diseases,” says self-help group chairman Anthony Maweu Mwaluko.

River Mithini used to be permanent, and is the only natural source for the entire community. Degradation of the banks has affected the persistence of water in the river during the dry seasons. The water used to be available throughout the year but just recently started drying up during June. This leaves the community in desperation, spending more than one hour to fetch water from any alternative source. 84% of the respondents fetch water from the river. Alternative water sources in the area include a borehole where people are charged 30 Kenyan shillings per 20-liter jerrican of water, a price which very few can afford.

To access water at the river, community members dig scoop holes which are fenced with thorny bushes to prevent the entry of unwanted people and livestock. The livestock have their designated points where they go to drink water. Before fetching water at the scoop hole , an individual will scoop away stagnant water and allow the water to recharge. However, degradation of the river has increased the amount of time that water flows, so recharging a scoop hole can take quite a bit of time. During the dry seasons, even more time is spent in line as people wait for the scoop holes to refill.

Past experience with water shortage has taught the community to invest in reservoirs with large capacity. These are a common item within households, with most having a 200 to 300-liter water tank. Most of the group’s families have children who are still in school. Most families are able to afford day schools, which afford children time to also help their parents fetch water. During the weekends, this is the main assignment of children: to fill the large reservoirs and spare their parents frequent trips to the water source. Waterborne disease has been reported after consumption of the river’s water, especially during the dry seasons.

Sanitation Situation

100% of households have a pit latrine, most of which are made of mud walls and iron-sheeted roofs. The group is located near a main town, so the income of the self-help members is fairly stable. This was obvious in that the quality of latrines is far above normal, with a few walls painted and even some doors that lock! They are comfortable and cleaned regularly.

Over 75% of households have tools like dish racks and clotheslines. Most also have a dust bin kit within their homes, and a compost pit outside in the back of their yards. Because most of the group members received a formal education, they understand the implications and consequences of poor hygiene. Hygiene is perceived as a symbol of class and well-being.

Solution: Hand-Dug Well

This shallow well will be dug adjacent to the sand dam (click here to check it out!) that is being built at River Mithini. As the sand dam matures, the water in the shallow well will become more and more constant. Construction is expected to take two months. Once the well is lined with concrete and an Afridev pump is installed, community members will have a great alternative to the scoop holes they have been digging in the riverbed.

Training Sessions

Group members will be trained over the course of three days:

Day 1: Members will see presentations about the consequences of poor hygiene and sanitation. Members will participate through providing daily experiences of the practices commonly used.
Day 2: Members will be introduced to some common hygiene practices such as hand-washing and the need for tippy taps (hand-washing stations), household cleanliness, water treatment, and many other topics.
Day 3: Members will come up with an action plan of implementing some of the practices learned, and will provide a schedule of when they will actually implement these.

The facilitator will use a mixture of PHAST (Participatory Health and Sanitation Training) and lectures to teach the above lessons.

Project Results: Training

The community decided that training should be conducted at a group member’s compound. This was done to provide a conducive environment for the community to learn. The venue was chosen also because it is central to the community. It also has a kitchen for cooking the lunches that were provided by ASDF so that training could go uninterrupted. The training was organized in late April to allow the community enough time to work on their farms. The rains usually subside in May, hence the community could have time to attend training.

The community actively participated during training. By being arranged in smaller groups, each and everyone had the chance to contribute to each topic discussed. Each member gave examples of their daily practices regarding hygiene and sanitation in their households; this activity made training relevant and applicable for all participants.

The main topics covered were: common causes of waterborne diseases and how to prevent them, water treatment, sanitation facilities, and the community’s role in maintaining clean and safe water points. The facilitator used demonstrations, discussions, lectures, and other PHAST methods to teach the above topics. Community members could apply some of the practices they learned immediately after training, such as treating water, washing hands, and constructing dish racks and clotheslines. Farmer Agnes Pius, a woman who benefited from hygiene and sanitation training said, “I now know that clear water may not be safe water! It is only treatment of water that makes water safe for drinking.”

Hand-Dug Well

Construction for this hand-dug well began on March 18th. This is when actual excavation of the well began. We anticipated that the rains would start early April, hence the need to have the shallow well done by that time. The community delegated the excavation of the well to three strong men, since many others were busy building the adjacent sand dam. Excavation of the main pit took eight days, the walling of the pit took five days, and installation of the hand-pump was done by end of April. Thankfully, rains didn’t start until the end of April! The well ended up being six feet in diameter and 15 feet deep.

And since the sand dam was done by the onset of the rainy season, it was just in time to catch the rains and begin the maturation process! It will collect sand and raise the water table so that this hand-dug well will be less likely to run dry. Notice that the pictures show the well is on a pedestal; this is because we expect the land to rise as the sand dam collects more sand.

Self-help group member Mueni Syombua said that “the shallow well will be used to provide water for humans, while the scoop holes at the sand dam will be used for farming and livestock. We hope this will prevent contamination of the water meant for humans!”

Water quality testing is also a very important part of this project. Periodic water tests are scheduled in order to verify safety and ascertain the quality of water – and what methods of cleaning or treating the water should be used. The group has been trained on water treatment and basic hygiene practices which prevent contamination of this well’s water.

The community will be in charge of controlling both pump usage and the digging of scoop holes along the river. Since the Kisaila Self-Help Group plans to sell water from this well, we are advising that they open a bank account to store funds that will be used if there is ever a need for minor repairs to the pump. If they ever need any help with management or repairs, they are encouraged to call our number!

Project Photos

Recent Project Updates

12/20/2017: A Year Later: Kisaila Hand-Dug Well

A year ago, generous donors helped build a hand-dug well for the Kisaila Self-Help Group in Kenya. Because of these gifts and our monthly donors, partners are able to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the actual water project. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – we’re excited to share this one from our partner Titus Mbithi with you.

The Water Project : 4459-yar-2

06/10/2016: Kisaila New Well Project Complete

We are excited to report that, thanks to your generosity, a new well has been constructed for the community of Kisaila Self-Help Group. In addition to the well, the residents have received training in sanitation and hygiene. Imagine the difference these resources will make for this community! We just posted the latest information to the project page; celebrate with all of us!

Take a look, and Thank You for unlocking potential!

The Water Project : 2-kenya4480-finished-well

03/22/2016: Kisaila New Well Project Underway

We are excited to announce that a project to provide clean water for the Kisaila Self-Help Group and their community in Kenya is underway. A new well is being constructed and the community will receive training in sanitation and hygiene. Together these resources will go a long way toward stopping the spread of disease in the area. We just posted a report including information about the community, GPS coordinates, and pictures. We’ll keep you posted as the work continues.

Take a look, and Thank You for your help!

The Water Project : 15-kenya4459-fetching-water

02/18/2016: Update From The Water Project

You’ve been assigned to a project! Check it out! And we’ll share more once the work begins!

The Water Project : kenya4333-twp-kenya-cheers

Monitoring Data

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump
Location:  Machakos, Masii
ProjectID: 4480
Install Date:  06/10/2016

Monitoring Data
Water Point:
Needs Repair
Last Visit: 12/20/2017

We are actively working with this partner to resolve the issues in this community. The "last visit" date is not necessarily the date we were notified by the partner of any potential problems. Once informed of downtime, we work to respond quickly. We will update the project status when these issues are resolved.

Visit History:
05/30/2016 — Functional
07/11/2016 — Functional
12/19/2016 — Functional
06/12/2017 — Functional
09/06/2017 — Functional
12/20/2017 — Needs Repair

A Year Later: Kisaila Hand-Dug Well

December, 2017

When she would come home without water, this meant that we slept without cooking… but since the project inception, I find food ready. This enables me to eat, do my homework, then sleep early. My teachers have also commented on my performance and concentration in class and I am aiming to achieve higher marks in my next class.

A year ago, generous donors helped build a hand-dug well for the Kisaila Self-Help Group in Kenya. Because of these gifts and our monthly donors, partners are able to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the actual water project. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – we’re excited to share this one from our partner Titus Mbithi with you.

Life for people living near this hand-dug well has greatly improved because they now have a clean water source that runs throughout the year. The group has clean and safe drinking water that is even treated before consumed, thanks to the training they received last year. Water-related diseases have largely decreased. The surrounding environment has become more serene and the people are happy, healthy and clean.

And thanks to the surplus of water an adjacent sand dam provides, this hand-dug well is able to pump clean, safe water from the catchment area.

We interviewed Levi Mwendwa, who came to fetch water from the well.

Anne Ngei is the chairwoman of the committee that oversees this hand-dug well and sand dam system. She said, “Life before this project was challenging because we would even sleep at the river lining up in order to get water from the deep scoop holes. The scoop holes were very deep, and this posed a threat to our animals and children. The project has reduced all these risks and everyone is grateful. The community at large is interested in joining our group because they can see that we are benefitting, and they have started copying what we do. Our school-going children no longer stay dirty because water is available, and they are usually comfortable in school and even in the church. Diseases have decreased due to improved nutrition, which came as a result of planting different varieties of foods and vegetables.”

Mrs. Ngei sharing the changes that have happened since this project last year.

Levi Mwnedwa added his own experience, saying: “My school performance has improved because I find food at home, unlike before. I could come home only to find my grandmother has gone to look for water from as far as five kilometers away from our home. She could later come home late, and sometimes without water. When she would come home without water, this meant that we slept without cooking… but since the project inception, I find food ready. This enables me to eat, do my homework, then sleep early. My teachers have also commented on my performance and concentration in class and I am aiming to achieve higher marks in my next class. My grandmother and I have grown 14 trees, and they have all survived. We are planning to transplant during the rainy season. I use the water to bathe, wash my clothes, and our house. As a result I am now clean and healthy. Our livestock are healthy, and they produce good milk.”

The hand-dug well depends on the water this sand dam stores.

The surrounding environment has become green and cool. Soil and water are conserved through natural vegetation and terracing. Water is available throughout the year, and is being enjoyed by hundreds.

The Water Project and our partners are committed to consistent monitoring of each water source. Our monitoring and evaluation program, made possible by monthly donors, allows us to visit communities up to four times a year. Read more about our program and how you can help.


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39 individual donor(s)

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Country Details


Population: 39.8 Million
Lacking clean water: 43%
Below poverty line: 50%

Partner Profile

Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF) supports self-help groups to harvest and conserve water through construction of sand dams & shallow wells, rock catchments and school roof catchments.