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Location: Kenya

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 436 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

Kyeni kya Karuli Self-Help Group was formed in the year 1978. The purpose of the group was to tackle food insecurity and water shortage through the area of both resources. There was a major famine and drought at that time that caused a huge loss of livestock. The massive losses pushed many into poverty.

The members of this group mean to support each other in every way possible. Soon after its start, in 1983 the group was able to finish its first sand dam. However, because of weak structural design, the dam collapsed under the heavy storm rains of 1997. During the years between 1983 and 1997, the group’s sand dam made water more accessible to farmers, and in turn provided more food. With its loss, food and water shortage threatened families once again.

This area is home to 436 people who will all benefit from a new hand-dug well.

Water Situation

Having no sand dam in the area forces families to walk long distances in search of water. The closest source is a borehole three kilometers from the village. However, water at the borehole is sold at a fee of five shillings per 20-liter jerrycan, and not many community members can afford that price. The water from that borehole isn’t even reliable; sometimes a person will make the long trek only to find out that the pump is locked. The alternative for those who don’t want to pay is to dig a hole to access the water from the seasonal river.

The river scoop holes are separated between animals and humans. A farmer will bring his livestock to a different area to keep them away from scoop holes intended for human consumption. Moreover, these scoop holes set aside for human consumption are hedged with thorny bushes to keep animals away. As the seasons get drier, the community must dig these holes deeper. July through October, these scoop holes are at their deepest, and are actually very dangerous for small children to be around.

20-liter jerrycans are used to fetch the water and once home, dumped into larger containers varying in size from 200-400 liters. Water for drinking is kept inside and covered, and water for chores is left outside in the open.

A daily average of five hours is spent on fetching water, forcing these farmers to sacrifice time tending to their crops and animals. Ultimately, these farmers are sacrificing economic development just to get enough water.

Sanitation Situation

Over 75% of homes have pit latrines, but they are made with mud, the pits are shallow, and most have no doors for privacy. We noticed that because of these poor bathroom conditions, open defecation is an issue.

A few of the homes had hand-washing stations, and no more than half of homes had dish racks and clotheslines to dry things off the ground. Garbage is separated between a compost pile and a burn pile.

The community has a misperception that good sanitation and hygiene is only for the rich who have the money to build expensive toilets and tools. Many believe that since they are so impoverished, the government should step in and help. This idea is so strong that the community has been making little to no effort to establish good habits.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

To address the concerns above, hygiene and sanitation training will be offered to self-help group members on two consecutive days. Once the members have learned about useful practices and tools to improve health, they will be able to share with their families and neighbors. Since open defecation is an issue, an emphasis will be placed on proper latrine construction and use.

Plans: Hand-Dug Well

This hand-dug well will be installed next to the group’s newest sand dam (click here to see the sand dam project). As the dam builds up sand, it will raise the water table and naturally filter that water. Having a well gives locals a safe and easy way to fetch water this improved source.

Group members will work together to transport sand, stones, and water to the construction site. Local men will bail and excavate the well to an adequate depth. It will then be developed and lined with concrete casings. The well pad will be completed with a new AfriDev pump.

We interviewed the self-help group’s chairman, 78-year-old Jackson Musyimi. We were able to discuss the needs of his community and hear his hopes and dreams for our partnership. Mr. Musyimi’s picture can be found in the “See Photos & Video” section. He again told us what we already know, that “without a reliable supply of water in the community, many waterborne incidences have been reported. Every year, families spend money to treat such diseases in the local dispensary. We are determined to reduce such cases by creating more water points for the community!” Not only are more water sources needed here, but sources need to have cleaner water. This new hand-dug well will be a huge step in that direction! With your help over the next five years, Kyeni kya Karuli Self-Help Group will be able to build the safe water sources they need in their area.

Recent Project Updates

12/20/2016: Kyeni kya Karuri New Well Project Complete

We are very excited to report that, thanks to your willingness to help, the members of the Kyeni kya Karuri 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: New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was held near the center of town, where community members normally meet for weekly announcements and fellowship. This area was also shady and peaceful, so participants could sit comfortably out of the scorching sun. The next-door neighbor also opened up their home in the case of rain and their latrine to be used as needed.

We had to meticulously plan out the training schedule since this community is approximately 400 kilometers away from the main office. It takes around five hours to travel here, so our trainers had to spend the night in a nearby town. To ensure our trip was valuable, we let group members know about the two days of training as soon as possible.

Training was well-attended with all 38 members of the self-help group for both days. This was especially impressive, since we found out that the second day of training was market day. Everyone in the area comes together to buy and sell goods, which is one of the only ways these farmers can make money. Surprisingly, all the group members decided to skip market day to attend our second day of sessions.

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We started by mapping out all water sources and sanitation facilities in the community, and investigated how people use these. We talked about what makes a practice good or bad for health and hygiene. These discussions and the illustrations we used helped participants realize the issues their community must deal with. We then presented ways the community can alleviate these issues. How can they block the spread of disease? Hand-washing is one of the most effective barriers, so we highlighted having and using hand-washing stations.

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By the end of training, the group members had developed their own action plan that will guide them in implementing what they learned. For example, every household should have a latrine and hand-washing stations by a certain date. Farmer and mother Mrs. Wanza was excited about what she learned. She said, “Attending the training helped me learn how to prevent spread of germs at home. I am sure I will teach my young children on what I learnt today.”

The self-help group also has select members who formed a committee that will oversee the project’s management and maintenance.

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Project Result: Hand-Dug Well

Construction for this hand-dug well began on September 12th.

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.

Only a few community workers undertook the well compared to the massive amount of hands working on the sand dam. A few men dug the hole for the well to reach our recommended depth of 18 feet. When the well is deep enough, it will take full advantage of the abundance of water collected by the sand dam. This excavation took a total of three weeks. After casing the well in concrete, the new AfriDev pump was installed. This pump installation took a record time of eight days; community members wanted to be present to observe our mechanics and witness how the pump works.

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Dorcas Kimanzi is one of the self-help group members who worked on this project, and she is particularly excited. She said, “The shallow well is central and all members of the community will be able to access. This brings me more joy, as I will save on time I used to spend going to fetch water from distant places.”

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10/10/2016: Kyeni kya Karuri New Well Project Underway

We are excited to announce that a project to provide clean water for the Kyeni kya Karuri Self-Help Group and their community in Kenya is underway. A new well is being constructed and the community will attend two days of 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:  Kitui, Waita, Kyeni kya Karuri
ProjectID: 4495
Install Date:  12/20/2016

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

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

A Year Later: Karuli Hand-Dug Well

December, 2017

Clean water gives me and my family a clean bill of health. Same for every other member of the self-help group.

A year ago, generous donors helped build a hand-dug well for the Kyeni kya Karuli 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 Titus Mbithi and Joseph Kioko with you.

Students had to skip school because they were spending so much time in search of water.

But now, a well and sand dam system have brought water close to home. And thanks to the surplus of water the sand dam provides, this hand-dug well is able to pump clean, safe water from the catchment area.

Moses fetching clean water from the well.

Moses Muthengi is one of the many people who have directly benefited from having water nearby. “Before the project, we used to walk for long distances close to four kilometers one way and line up for hours because people came from different regions to fetch water at Nthungu River. Right now, we take less than 30 minutes to get our water,” he shared. 9-year-old Vundi Musyoki came to the well while we were there, and added: “I can now be sent to go fetch from this well, unlike before when the distance was too long for my age to walk. The water ensures that I am clean and healthy because I drink it and it’s used for cooking and showering. I cannot be more happy!”

Vundi, Field Officer Titus, and Naomi posing at the well. Thumbs up!

Naomi Mwenda added that she used to have to walk six kilometers to River Tyaa to find water. “Clean water gives me and my family a clean bill of health. Same for every other member of the self-help group,” Naomi said. The hand-dug well has brought so much clean water close to home that there’s enough for all of the cattle, for farm irrigation, domestic use, cooking, and drinking. And now that there’s a significant water stored in the sand, grass has started growing along the riverbed. This provides a great grazing area for livestock.

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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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.