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Location: Kenya

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  Installed

Functionality Status:  Functional

Community Profile & Stories

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).

Welcome to the Community

We are on our third year of partnership with the Vinya wa Mwau Self-Help Group, with two more years to go. We’ve worked with them to build two sand dams and two hand-dug wells that have drastically improved water access in the area. The group was also supported in installing a drip irrigation project which has worked well.

Using water from the sand dams, farmers have been able to grow vegetables for both their own use and for market sales. The water has also helped the group start tree nurseries that produce fruit for more income generation.

The group hopes to build two more sand dams and hand-dug wells because of the expansive area in which they live. They want water to be equally accessible for all. Before this partnership, locals had to wake up by 3 AM each day to beat the long lines that formed at the water source. Not only that, but this previous water source was eight kilometers away!

This area has a total population of 711 people. (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.)

Water Situation

The community travels to either of the two hand-dug wells to fetch water. Though the two wells have brought water closer to many households, it is still a long distance for some. The farthest of families have to travel up to two kilometers to get water.

We noticed that since locals have learned about the importance of handling and storing water properly, water containers have been kept much cleaner. The standard 20-liter jerrycans that women use to fetch water with all have covers to protect the water during the trip. Once home, this water is separated into larger containers by intended use. Drinking water is always kept separate from water used for cleaning.

After testing water from the two wells we constructed, we found that there was no contamination. This was good news for the community! There is clean water here, but we must make it more accessible with the construction of a third sand dam and hand-dug well system (click here to see the upcoming sand dam project). The two systems are always overcrowded; it still takes a woman an average of three hours a day to fetch water because she must wait in line.

Sanitation Situation

Since this is our third year with Vinya wa Mwau, we are happy to share that all households in this area have a pit latrine. These are well-constructed, deep, and cleaned on a regular basis.

Over 75% of households have a hand-washing station with ash or soap available. The same number of families have dish racks and clotheslines to dry their things up off the ground.

Each households has a trash bin inside the home that is regularly separated and emptied into one of two piles in the back of the compound. Biodegradable material is composted to make fertilizers for the farm, and excess garbage in the other pit is burned.

The training here for the last couple of years has increased awareness, knowledge, and appreciation of the huge role that sanitation and hygiene play in good health.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

We will take two days to review hygiene and sanitation with self-help group members. We will also use one of these days to review the action plan that this group agreed on in the beginning of our relationship. We want to keep encouraging the self-help group members to share what they know about good hygiene and sanitation with their neighbors. Some still lag behind in the construction of useful and important tools like hand-washing stations, dish racks, and clotheslines.

Plans: Hand-Dug Well

We estimate that this third year of project implementation will provide 90% of the community with accessible clean, safe water. Group member Patrick Kiema shared, “Yes, our work in the last three years has realized fruits. We are using water for vegetable planting. However, the water hasn’t been enough for all members. With the third water project, our efforts to have adequate water to all members will almost be achieved.” You can see Patrick and his household in the “See Photos & Video” section.

This well will be dug adjacent to the third sand dam being built. As the dam builds up sand, the water table will rise and provide more water accessible through the hand-dug well. That same sand will also function as a natural filter for drinking water. Materials like bricks, stones, and sand are already being gathered at the proposed well site, and construction is expected to take about one month.

The success of the group’s previous two sand dam and hand-dug well projects has led to new membership. The group has grown, and more and more people will benefit from projects, both new and old. Through these new water systems, water will be available to even less-privileged neighboring communities.

Recent Project Updates

12/20/2017: A Year Later: Vinya wa Mwau Hand-Dug Well

A year ago, generous donors helped build a hand-dug well for the Vinya wa Mwau 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.

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12/15/2016: Vinya wa Mwau Hand-Dug Well Complete

We are very excited to report that, thanks to your willingness to help, the members of the Vinya wa Mwau Self-Help Group and their families in Kenya have a new source of safe, clean water. A new hand-dug well has been constructed adjacent to a sand dam, which has built up sand to raise the water table and naturally filter water pumped from that well. The self-help group members have also attended a review training in sanitation and hygiene, and plan to share what they learned with their families and neighbors. You made it happen, now help keep the water flowing! Join our team of monthly donors and help us maintain this well and many other projects.

The report below from our partner gives the latest details of the project. We also just updated the project page with new pictures. Make sure to click on the “See Photos & Video” tab to check them out!

Project Result: Reviewing Important Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was held a group member’s homestead. This was because the home is located in a serene environment, and it has a big kitchen that gave the participants the chance to cook a big lunch! Training was organized in consultation with the group committee, letting all members know the time and place plenty in advance. Almost every single person ended up attending. Each member actively participated, asking and answering questions about tangible ways they can improve the health of their families.

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The main topics we covered were:

– How to prevent the spread of germs

– Common diseases and germ routes

– Water hygiene: types of treatment

– Using the latrine

– Proper waste disposal

– Building sanitation facilities (dish racks and clotheslines)

– Hand-washing and how to build a hand-washing station

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The trainers used lectures, demonstrations, group discussions, and presentations to teach the above topics and many more! The sessions were successful; the self-help group developed an action plan that will be used to implement everything they learned. Latrines, dish racks, clotheslines, compost pits, and hand-washing stations will all be built. The self-help group has also selected members to form a committee that will oversee the project’s management and maintenance. Mr. Patrick Kiema was one of the farmers who attended. He told us, “I now know how simple it is to keep diseases away from my household: Just ensuring that I practice good hygiene!”

Project Result: Hand-Dug Well

Construction on this hand-dug well began as early as October.

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Our experience has taught us that a hand-dug well in this area needs to be at least 20 feet deep in order to provide a constant and adequate amount of water. Hand-dug well construction was simultaneous to construction of a sand dam which will provide the water accessed by the well. As the sand dam matures and provides more water, more of that water will be accessible from the well. To see that sand dam project, click here.

The well was constructed in three phases. The first phase is well excavation. This was the most difficult part of group members, since they encountered very hard rock under the dirt. We provided them with pickaxes, stakes and mallets to break through the rest of the way. This first step took a total of 17 days.

The second step was to construct the walling around the excavated pit. Only a few men worked on this, since most others were needed for grueling work on the sand dam. This took at least 10 days.

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The final phase was pump installation. Quite a few community members gathered around as our mechanic installed the new AfriDev pump. They wanted to learn as much as possible about how the pump works; the more they understand, the better they’ll be able to maintain high functionality. If there’s ever a serious issue, the committee has the contact information for our mechanic.

Mr. David Maweu was one of the men who focused on hand-dug well construction. He said that “the shallow well will help residents get water within shorter distances who are further from the first project. With clean water, our women will be less stressed and able to participate in other community activities.”

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10/10/2016: Vinya wa Mwau New Well Project Underway

We are excited to announce that a project to provide clean water for the Vinya wa Mwau Self-Help Group and their community in Kenya is underway. A new well is being constructed and the community will attend a review training on helpful sanitation and hygiene practices. Together these resources will go a long way in stopping the spread of disease in the area! We just posted a report including an introduction to the community, GPS coordinates, and pictures. We will keep you posted as the work continues.

Click on the tabs above to learn more, and Thank You for your generous help!

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Explore More of The Project

Project Photos

Monitoring Data

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump
Location:  Makueni, Mukimwani, Vinya wa Mwau
ProjectID: 4492
Install Date:  12/15/2016

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

Visit History:
09/06/2017 — Functional
12/20/2017 — Functional

A Year Later: Vinya wa Mwau Hand-Dug Well

December, 2017

Our water source has changed from an open earth dam to a protected shallow well, and the distance to the shallow well is less than a kilometer.

A year ago, generous donors helped build a hand-dug well for the Vinya wa Mwau 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.

It’s incredible to think that members of Vinya wa Mwau Self-Help Group and their neighbors had to walk over six kilometers to find water – and that water wasn’t even clean. Now, clean water is within a half kilometer from home.

The little water people brought back would be rationed for drinking and cooking, and would only allow for occasional bathing. Plants, and more importantly livestock, would die during the dry seasons. Now, there’s water available for everything: drinking, cooking, household chores, watering livestock, and irrigating farms.

We met the self-help group’s secretary, Musoi Mutsya, at the sand dam. He told us that no longer having to walk six kilometers for water has saved him an extraordinary amount of time. He said this time “we can now use in other income-generating projects. We now have enough water for household use, watering our cattle, planting trees at our homes and hence increasing forest cover.” And thanks to the surplus of water that the adjacent sand dam provides, this hand-dug well is able to pump clean, safe water from the catchment area. Mr. Mutsya says that “the available water is clean and safe for drinking.”

Christine Mbithe filling her jerrycan with clean water.

Christine Mbithe arrived and expressed her gratefulness for clean water: “Our water source has changed from an open earth dam to a protected shallow well, and the distance to the shallow well is less than a kilometer.” Right now, she and the other group members are thinking about how to best fence in the water point to protect it.

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.


Project Sponsor - Barbara Belle Ash Dougan Foundation

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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.