Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 300 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2016

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/01/2024

Project Features

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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

The Syakama Self-Help Group was formed in 2015, and now has 34 members. The members come from three different villages. The motivation for their coming together is to tackle water insecurity issues within the three villages.

The average age of group members is 42, so this group is still quite youthful and energetic. Some members have started “Zero Grazing” (dairy farming) as a means of income. Without sufficient access to water, this activity is bound to fail despite heavy investments during startup. After discussions with members, we learned they have a strong belief that investing in water projects like this shallow well and other sand dams will enable them to solve the water crisis; a huge burden which their parents also had to endure throughout their lives. With water nearby, the members plan to invest in initiatives such as farming and tree-planting, which have great potential to improve living standards.

The self-help group approached ASDF for support in constructing one sand dam and shallow well on River Miseke. The group is close neighbours to one of the communities that benefited from a water project in the past. Because of the improvements that the neighbouring community now enjoys, the Syakama Self-Help Group was also motivated to mobilize its members and follow the process outlined by the neighbouring community in order to access water.

The Current Source

The main water source is from River Miseke, a seasonal river; it only flows during the rainy season. The members must walk an average of two to three kilometers and spend a total of two to three hours to fetch water at this source. Several members have dug shallow wells on the river bank, but due to degradation of the river, the shallow wells often dry up. There are also private shallow wells there that have no water pumps. The average depth of these wells is between 30 and 40 meters. They are privately-owned, meaning that individual owners regulate and determine how often and how much one can fetch water. To fetch water, a long rope is tied onto a fetching bucket which is lowered down inside to scoop water. This can be a dangerous activity reserved for a few; without a cover over the well, locals are at risk of falling inside. It takes at least two people at the water point to fetch, and the manpower and time taken puts a big strain on everybody.

Usually 20-liter plastic jerricans are used to fetch water. The mode of transport is bicycle or donkey, which can carry up to four 20-liter jerricans of water per trip. The jerrican covers range from polythene wrapped around the container’s top, or other improvised lids that prevent spilling during the journey home from the water point.

Once home, gathered water is usually stored in plastic jerricans for drinking purposes while the rest is added to high-capacity water drums that a portion of families can afford. For those who cannot afford the high-capacity water reservoirs, water remains in the fetching jerrycans until more is needed.

The depth of the improvised shallow wells and the manner water must be fetched is a big threat, especially to small children who often travel with their parents to the river. We heard of incidences of children falling into the well and suffering injuries.

Sanitation Situation

100% of households have pit latrines, and the majority of them are in great condition. The latrine superstructures are made of concrete and are well-roofed. Because of these good conditions, no open defication was observed during the initial visit. Owning a latrine is a cultural norm for families of these villages. It signifies dignity and success, so all households have invested the necessary time and resources in their facilities.

Garbage disposal has two levels: Within the main house there is a bin that is occasionally emptied into a compost pit at the back of the family compound. Because many of the community members are farmers, they have knowledge on how to make manure from these compost pits.

The community has not yet received any information on hygiene and sanitation. There is no particular standard set for hygiene, hence most practice hygiene and sanitation according to their level of exposure i.e level of education, status in the community. Basic practices such as treating water are more of a “feeling” than a standard practice, meaning people will only treat water if they feel it is not safe. Some others said they don’t treat water because they don’t like the taste of chlorine or boiled water. The general attitude about hygiene is based more on myths and perceptions rather than information and facts.

Farmer Sarah Wayua admits, “Without sufficient water, entire households or children skip days without taking a bath. Even the grown don’t shower daily!”

Training Sessions

The self-help group will be trained for three days using the PHAST (Participatory Health and Sanitation Training) method. Topics will include proper water treatment, hand-washing, and household hygiene.

As mentioned, the community members already have some open hand-dug wells adjacent to the river banks. For this project, a protected well will be constructed. This covered well will be much safer for those both wishing to fetch water and drink water. Children won't be able to fall in! It is also expected that the sand dam (view the other project here) being constructed will recharge this new shallow well.

Hand-dug well construction is expected to take two months. It will be lined with concrete, and then an Afridev pump will be installed. For this community, availability of water will be a means to boosting other socioeconomic activities. This water well creates great excitement! However, there is a lack of local materials such as stones. The group will be forced to buy these materials from distant places, which could affect the completion date. We will keep you posted!

Project Results Hand-Dug Well

Construction for this hand-dug well began on March 1st. A few members of the community were delegated to continue with pit excavation while others focused on the adjacent sand dam. Digging the pit took a total of 12 days and stopped at 15 feet. In order to beat the rainy season, walling was done by all self-help group members for another six days, and then the concrete casing and pump installation were done as rains started in mid-April.

The process happened rapidly and at the same time as the sand dam. The sand dam will raise the water table and recharge the well as the dam matures.

No official ceremonies have been planned at the well, though the community is discussing a time to come together to share a meal and talk about their experiences building the hand-dug well and sand dam.


Hygiene and sanitation training was held in a self-help group member’s home for two days. This location was chosen because it is very close to where their sand dam was constructed. The home was also convenient for cooking lunches so that the sessions could go uninterrupted. Most of the self-help group members were in attendance because they were given a two-week notice before the date. 28 of the 35 members were able to adjust their schedules and RSVP in time. This was a great turnout, and all of the key members of the group were present. Trainers used demonstrations and group discussions, and encouraged group members to use case studies from their daily life experiences to keep them engaged.

The training concepts were selected to suit the conditions and life experiences of the trainees. Main topics included but were not limited to:

  • Personal hygiene
  • Keeping the home environment clean
  • Hand-washing and constructing hand-washing stations (check out the pictures!)
  • Water treatment
  • Dangers of open defecation
  • Blocking the transmission of contaminants

The trainings’ success will be determined by what is observed in our follow-up visits. We set goals with the self-help group and help them develop a schedule for action. Are people washing their hands? Are they using latrines? These are all important indicators of whether or not there was positive impact. But as of now, it’s at least obvious self-help group members are grateful for what they learned. Local farmer Serah Wambua said, “I really liked the trainings. The pictures used really communicated well with us. I expect to change my behaviors which may lead to diseases.”

The self-help group has also selected a committee that will oversee their new shallow well and other water points. They have drafted a set of rules which will help them manage water usage. For example, no livestock will be allowed near the well. Instead, the committee is working with the community to select certain scoop holes along the river meant only for watering animals. The committee will be regulating use of the pump and will lock it when nobody else from their community is around.

Thank You for your generosity that has resulted in a new safe water source for Syakama Self-Help Group and their families!

We're just getting started, check back soon!

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.

A Year Later: Kavumbu Community Hand-Dug Well

December, 2017

Initially, we’d walk seven kilometers to Miseke River in order to fetch drinking water, but now it tales less than 30 minutes.

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Kavumbu Community 1B.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kavumbu Community 1B maintain access to safe, reliable water. Together, they keep The Water Promise.

We’re confident you'll love joining this world-changing group committed to sustainability!

A year ago, generous donors helped build a hand-dug well for the Syakama 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 partners Joe Kioko and Mutheu Mutune with you.


This area has changed drastically since the installation of a hand-dug well last year. Before, people had to walk half the day to find water. Now, they have it close to home: The distance has decreased from five kilometers to less than a kilometer. Nearly everyone has planted trees that will conserve the environment.

Time initially wasted is now used for other income-generating activities. The adjacent dam is filled with sand, and people from as far as three kilometers away come to this water point to fetch clean water. Washing clothes is much easier due to the soft water from the project.

John Kyalo, Mwongeli, and Field Officer Mutheu

The project has been supplying them with water throughout the year, which means they’re no longer losing their livestock during the dry season. Because of the water availability, the children are cleaner and the environment is greener.

We met self-help group member John Kyalo at the dam. He said, "My life has changed positively because initially I couldn’t plant vegetables, and I was just a casual laborer. I am now able to grow vegetables which I sell. This month, I have made 8,000 shillings from sale of spinach, kales and tomatoes. I no longer struggle paying school fees for my children. As a result of this shallow well, some waterborne diseases have decreased. We also make bricks for sale and build better houses."

Mr. John Kyalo talking about how the well has changed life in his community.

14-year-old Mwongeli Muswawa is happy that she can now run and fetch water on her own, which is used at home to help with chores. She said she’s grateful for the "reduced distance to the water source. Initially, we’d walk seven kilometers to Miseke River in order to fetch drinking water, but now it tales less than 30 minutes."

Mwongeli shies away from the camera as Field Officer Mutheu interviews her.

However, it’s worth noting that the adjacent sand dam is still maturing. Since this is one of Syakama’s newest projects, it was especially susceptible to the severe drought this last year. Though the well is often serving the community by bringing clean water closer to home, there are still times when water is not available, and people have to travel to other sources.

As the young sand dam continues to mature through the rainy seasons, building up sand and storing even more clean water, the hand-dug well will become more reliable.

Most of our other southeastern Kenya projects are like this too; they are systems that need time to mature in order to provide clean, reliable water throughout drought. We look forward to this happening here, and are excited to monitor the transformation!

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.

Navigating through intense dry spells, performing preventative maintenance, conducting quality repairs when needed and continuing to assist community leaders to manage water points are all normal parts of keeping projects sustainable. The Water Promise community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kavumbu Community 1B maintain access to safe, reliable water.

We’d love for you to join this world-changing group committed to sustainability.

The most impactful way to continue your support of Kavumbu Community 1B – and hundreds of other places just like this – is by joining our community of monthly givers.

Your monthly giving will help provide clean water, every month... keeping The Water Promise.


Project Sponsor - Barbara Belle Ash Dougan Foundation