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Location: Kenya

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 392 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

Musunguu Self-Help Group is located in the highland of Makueni County. The main economic activity in this area is horticultural farming. All farming here is solely dependent on River Tawa.

There is a sand dam on this river, and the majority of farms get water from pumps that rely on this sand dam. In recent years, intense farming has affected the water supply at this particular dam. Droughts have further exacerbated this strain, and there is now constant competition at the sand dam for who can get in line first for water. Women try to get there early enough so they can have water for household chores, but there are always long lines at the dam.

Water Situation

Water at the sand dam is accessed at scoop holes dug by community members. These holes in the riverbed don’t have to be dug very deep to reach the water provided by the dam.

Many farmers are using petrol pumps to transport water from the dam to their crops. Farmer Richard has noticed this is a common practice, and said, “We fear that the water quality from our current water source is heavily polluted. Everyone is using petrol generators to pump water from the river, and this may be a source of pollution to the water.” Thus, locals have made a request for help in building a shallow well adjacent to the sand dam. In reality, we conducted a water quality test and found that the water is contaminated, but not by petrol. The drinking water fetched from the scoop holes is contaminated by fecal matter. Because the shallow holes are open sources at the surface, they are unprotected from contamination.

Women and children commonly use covered 20-liter plastic jerrycans to carry water home from the sand dam. Since the river is a ways away, community members aim to make as few water trips as possible. Large water reservoirs at home help minimize the trips to the dam. These range from 200 to 300 liters, depending on what households can afford. Families without young children try their best to have more water storage, since young people are charged with helping their families fetch water. You can see examples of some of these containers under the “See Photos & Video” tab.

The trip to fetch water isn’t what consumes a lot of time; scoop holes are so overused that women and children spend most of their time in line. A hand-dug well won’t only protect water from outside contamination (such as fecal matter!), but will provide another option that decreases congestion at the sand dam.

Sanitation Situation

Since we’ve already been engaging with this community for three years, every single household now has a pit latrine. Almost the same number of families have bathing rooms reserved for personal hygiene. Over half of people have a hand-washing station on their property. Dish racks and clotheslines are also being used to safely dry belongings. Garbage is disposed of in a compost pit, which is then used as fertilizer on farms.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Review

Since this group has attended training before, we will continue by filling in any gaps in understanding. After discovering the contamination of water in the scoop holes, we’ve decided to focus on water point maintenance, water handling, water storage, and treatment.

Plans: Hand-Dug Well

We plan to excavate to a depth of at least 25 feet. Our experience has shown us that this yields an adequate and sustainable supply of water from the dam. This well will be lined with concrete and fitted with an AfriDev pump. With this well adjacent to the sand dam, farmers and their families will have a protected source of water that’s free from surface runoff. While people get their drinking water from the well, scoop holes become reserved for irrigation, watering animals, and domestic uses.

Recent Project Updates

12/20/2016: Musunguu New Well Project Complete

We are very excited to report that, thanks to your willingness to help, the members of the Musunguu 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 at Musunguu Primary School. Classrooms were open and provided a good place for participants to avoid the rainy weather. We organized for the time, date, place, and participants with the self-help group members. They decided to delay training until the second week of November since most of the planting on farms would be done by then (It’s the peak of summer in Kenya!).

The Musunguu group has been working with ASDF for three years now. It is quite an active group which has been motivated by the impact they have received from past projects. This has fostered a strong relationship of trust in the community, causing them to gain new members.

As a show of their commitment, the self-help group was available for training sessions as early as 8AM. They came with notebooks and pens in hand to take notes on what they would learn. It was so encouraging to see even old women coming to the training with their grandchildren. Participants were both financially stable and poor, male and female. All are affected by water, sanitation, and hygiene!

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All these participants were actively listening, asking and answering questions, and even laughing when the time was right.

Since this isn’t the group’s first year working with us, we made visits to each households to see how their hygiene and sanitation improvements are coming along. The facilitator checked on water storage, water treatment, and hand-washing stations. This informed the facilitator on what she should focus on during training. After the visits, it was decided there should be a focus on proper water storage. Clean water from a well doesn’t mean much if it gets dirty by the time it arrives home!

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Mr. David Ngunze is a farmer and member of the group. He learned a lot, telling us “We have worked hard to create availability of water in the community. We now have learnt that we also need to work hard to ensure that we maintain good standards and treat our water to prevent disease. I truly have learnt a lot today.”

Project Result: Hand-Dug Well

Construction for this well began on October 11th.

The site is adjacent to a sand dam that the community built, which will supply water to this well. As the sand dam matures, the water table rises and the sand naturally filters that water.

Construction was done in three phases:

1. Collecting materials: Community members took two months to gather construction materials like sand and stones and deliver them to the site.

2. Excavation: This was the only major project going on in this area, so community members were able to dedicate themselves to this work. At least five people were there every time work was being done. Excavation took a total of 35 days, with community members able to reach depths of 23 feet.

3. Finishing touches: Walling started in the final week of October. We were rushed to complete these final steps because the rainy season was quickly approaching. If the well was not covered with a well pad, the entire system would be flooded. Work was interrupted due to short rains, but continued at the end of November. Artisans completed the well pad and mechanics arrived to finish the system with an AfriDev Pump.

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Mrs. Mwanzia Muthoka supported her community every step of the way, recognizing the value of a safe drinking point. “The new shallow well will be used to get clean water for the community and even the nearby market, Tawa. The market does not have water, hence the vendors can get water from this point,” she shared.

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The Bigger Picture

Musunguu Self-Help Group has been working with us for the last three years. So far, they’ve built three sand dams. The group has received great interest from the president, and received awards for their successful projects. Musunguu Self-Help Group has been recognized as a group of people that has already accomplished much and is destined for much more. It has been decided that this is a good location for a new medical college. The leaders spearheading this development project have asked Musunguu Self-Help Group to consider collecting the water and sand needed for such large-scale construction (with compensation, of course!). A clean, adequate supply of water truly does bring change!

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12/05/2016: Musunguu New Well Project Underway

We are excited to announce that a project to provide clean water for the Musunguu 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, Musunguu
ProjectID: 4497
Install Date:  12/20/2016

Monitoring Data
Water Point:
Last Visit: 09/14/2017

Visit History:
12/16/2016 — Functional
05/22/2017 — Functional
07/12/2017 — Functional
09/14/2017 — Functional


Project Sponsor - Estate of Rachel Zik

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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.