Wasya wa Athi New Well Project

Regional Program:
Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Latitude -1.87
Longitude 37.86

207 Served

Project Status:

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Stories and Community Profile

Community Snapshot

Wasya wa Athi means “the voice of the Athi.” Self-help group members chose this name to represent their struggle with water scarcity; there is so little water in their village that they have to walk 12 kilometers to Athi River. Water quality tests at the river revealed a tremendously high total coliform count. Waterborne disease is a constant experience for all.

There is a seasonal river that runs right through their village, which alleviates the water challenge for a short time after rains. Over the last couple of years, we have worked with the community to build sand dams along this river. The goal is to make water available and accessible year round.

Water is fetched by digging holes alongside this seasonal riverbed, but locals are also using these to water their animals. Scoop hole water is great for cleaning, washing and farming, but not for drinking. Locals are in need of a safe source for drinking water, and a hand-dug well will provide that.

Welcome to the Community

The Wasya wa Athi Self-Help Group lives in Ivinga Nzia Village, Kenya. The village is home to 207 people from 35 different households. The Wasya wa Athi Self-Help Group was formed in September 2010. At the time of formation, there were 34 households with members in the group. The main reasons for forming the group were:

  1. The group wanted to improve the environment through soil conservation. By coming together the group wanted to dig terraces that would conserve soil on their farms According to them, the lack of terraces had reduced the productivity of their farms, leading to continuous cycles of poor harvests.
  2. The area had severe water shortage. The lack of water had led to the area remaining behind in terms of development. School attendance was severely affected as children skipped school during the long drought periods to assist parents in fetching water or be left at home taking care of other household chores as the parents went to search for water.

We decided to partner with this group because we share their goal to address water scarcity and bring solutions to the community. Since the beginning of our relationship, we have built several sand dams on the local seasonal river, Kyangwasi.

Water Situation

As the sand dams on River Kyangwasi mature, more water is available nearby. The more water at Kyangwasi, the less women and children have to make the long trek to River Athi. This is wonderful news, since River Athi is not only dangerous because of its contaminated water, but also because of its crocodiles! Farmer Rose Kithae said “We have faced a big challenge. Some have also lost their family members through crocodile attacks from River Athi. We hope that the shallow well [at Kyangwasi River] will reduce the number of people who still have to go to River Athi which is also far from our homes.”

To get water from the nearby sand dams, locals dig shallow holes to access water built up in the riverbed. They bring plastic 20-liter jerrycans to that are later dumped into plastic reservoirs at home. The more reservoirs a family can afford, the less trips they have to make to the scoop holes.

Problems with water quality are developing at the Kyangwasi scoop holes, though. These are open to contamination and are overused by both animals and humans. People are in need of their own protected source of safe drinking water.

Sanitation Situation

Through our partnership with Wasya wa Athi, we’ve been able to encourage families to build sanitation facilities. Now, every single household has their own pit latrine. However, many of them need to be kept cleaner and should have covers to keep flies away. Over half of homes still need to regularly practice hand-washing to prevent disease.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

Hygiene and sanitation training will be held on two consecutive days, scheduled for when most appropriate for community members. We wouldn’t want to schedule training on harvesting or market days!

After our training facilitators visited the community, they decided to focus on encouraging full community participation in hygiene campaigns. We’ve spent time planning a schedule for improvements to be made here, and we’d like to help families realize those improvements. For example, the community agreed that each household should have a pit latrine and hand-washing station. While every home now has their own pit latrine, there is still a large handful of families that don’t practice regular hand-washing. Implementing these household improvements will help ensure that clean drinking water is kept that way.

Plans: Hand-Dug Well

This hand-dug well will be adjacent to the sand dam with all of the scoop holes. Having a well will provide families with a safe and accessible clean drinking water source. Scoop holes can be kept for agricultural, domestic, and animal purposes.

The adjacent sand dam has already matured and raised the water table. This water table will ensure that there is always enough water to be pumped from the well.

Construction is expected to take around two months, with the well being lined with concrete and finished with an AfriDev pump. A pump system will protect the water inside from the same surface runoff contamination the open scoop holes are subject to.

Better Days Ahead

The name of the village, Ivinga Azia, means “closed roads,” or “end of the road.” The name was given to signify how hopeless and desperate the founders of the village were. They had suffered years of having no access to water. At that time, the only water point was River Athi, which was heavily polluted and infested with crocodiles.When walking across town, you would always see a person with a limb missing. The self-help group was formed to create lasting solutions to the perennial water shortage. Through its engagement with ASDF, the group set a clear goal to build sand dams along the River Kyangwasi, a seasonal nearby alternative to Athi. “We don’t want anyone else to die from crocodile attacks at river Athi,” said Wanza, a member of the group. “Our children deserve better.” That was the story of the community at the start of our relationship years ago.

Exactly four years ago, a boy named Kisomo was born. Kisomo means “education.” The boy was given that name after the group finished building their first sand dam. For the father, the dam was not only a solution to the water problem but also an opportunity to give his children a better education. “I now know my boy will be in school always! This is because water is not going to be a problem any more to this community,” explained Mutinda, Kisomo’s father. “The time we used to waste sending our children to fetch water instead of going to school will be invested in books. I am happy our efforts have opened doors for many children to go to school in clean uniforms. The days ahead will be better for this village.”

Project Photos

Recent Project Updates

12/20/2017: A Year Later: Wasya wa Athi Hand-Dug Well

A year ago, generous donors helped install a hand-dug well for the Wasya wa Athi B 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 : asdf_wasya-wa-athi-shg_year-after-interview-4

12/20/2016: Wasya wa Athi New Well Project Complete

We are very excited to report that, thanks to your willingness to help, the members of the Wasya wa Athi 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 outside near the well’s construction site. We organized these sessions in consultation with the community, considering availability of all farmers invited to attend. It was the beginning of the short rainy season, and so farmers were prioritizing work on their farms.

Thankfully, all 26 active members of the self-help group showed up for training. They invited the village elder to participate, since they wanted him to learn about what it takes to keep a functional and clean water point. This village elder is also in charge of arranging monthly meetings for the community, so it is natural to have him invested in this project and able to encourage the entire community as they improve hygiene and sanitation.

3 kenya4498 training

We taught how to control germs and sickness at the household level. For this topic, the community was sensitized about how germs spread and how to reduce the spread of germs. The community was also trained on how to maintain household hygiene by using dish racks, clotheslines, and compost pits. A focus of training was hand-washing and its importance. The trainer demonstrated how to wash hands, when to wash hands, and how to use soap. We taught participants how to make their own hand-washing stations. The group was also trained on water treatment and how to handle water to keep it safe and clean for use.

4 kenya4498 training

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. The self-help group has also selected members to form a committee that will oversee the project’s management and maintenance.

67-year-old Rose Kiltiae was one of the farmers who learned a lot from these sessions. She said, “I used to take for granted water treatment. I considered clear water as clean water. I have learnt how to treat water. This will prevent the spread of diseases, especially in my small grandchildren!”

Project Result: Hand-Dug Well

Construction for this hand-dug well began on September 5th.

Hand-dug well construction was simultaneous to extension of an adjacent sand dam. This particular sand dam was the first one the group ever constructed in 2012, and it needed to be extended to be most effective. The sand dam is considered fully mature, and already has more than enough water to supply and recharge a hand-dug well.

This self-help group has a huge age gap. Many of its members are young, but most are old. The youngest members were given the task of excavating the hole for this well, while the older members were asked to supply the needed materials. With this kind of delegation, work went quickly. The young people dug to a total depth of 21 feet at a diameter of eight feet. Excavation took one week.

6 kenya4498 construction

Walling was also done within a week, and then it was cased in concrete. After the well pad sealed the hole, a new AfriDev pump was installed by our mechanics. All of this was done in no more than 26 days!

Since the Wasya wa Athi had already built dams and wells in other areas of the community, they were extremely motivated to complete this new work. They had seen how this hard work pays off, and were determined to bring even more improvement to their lives. Mr. Francis Mutinda was one of the men who was out there working at least six hours a day. He said, “We have seen what a sand dam and a shallow well can achieve. We used to suffer a lot without these projects. Now that we have an additional water project, we have a reserve of water that will benefit generations to come.”

The Water Project : 13-kenya4498-finished-well

11/21/2016: Wasya wa Athi Project Underway

We are excited to announce that a project to provide clean water for the Wasya wa Athi Self-Help Group and their community in Kenya is underway. A new well is being constructed and the community will attend a hygiene and sanitation training sessions. 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, details about the project plans, 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!


The Water Project : 7-kenya4498-watering

Monitoring Data

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump
Location:  Makueni, Kanthuni
ProjectID: 4498
Install Date:  12/20/2016

Monitoring Data
Water Point:
Last Visit: 12/21/2017

Visit History:
06/04/2017 — Functional
09/06/2017 — Functional
12/21/2017 — Functional

A Year Later: Wasya wa Athi Hand-Dug Well

December, 2017

In this well, we have a convenient and steady clean water supply all year round. The well gives us clean drinking water for both consumption and use at the household level. Cases of waterborne diseases in our area were normal after drinking water at River Athi. But now they have decreased because we have a clean water supply from within.

A year ago, generous donors helped install a hand-dug well for the Wasya wa Athi B 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 community now enjoys a convenient clean water supply. Members of the group have been selling the well’s clean water to earn an income. They collect more than 3,000 shillings a month, which they can then use for well maintenance and other group activities.

Field Officer Titus Mbithi stands between Elizabeth Kyalo and Mutheu Kitali, two women who feel blessed to have clean water nearby.

We met Wasya wa Athi’s secretary, Elizabeth Kyalo at the well to talk about the impact it’s had over the past year. She said, “We no longer walk more than six kilometers away to Athi River to find water. In this well, we have a convenient and steady clean water supply all year round. The well gives us clean drinking water for both consumption and use at the household level. Cases of waterborne diseases in our area were normal after drinking water at River Athi. But now they have decreased because we have a clean water supply from within. Many members of the community now uphold high levels of cleanliness owing to hygiene and sanitation training.”

Elizabeth Kyalo using the pump to help Mutheu fill a jerrycan with clean water.

13-year-old Mutheu Kitali echoed the gratefulness for having clean water nearby. “I no longer miss school to go and fetch water at Athi for use at home. Fetching water has now become fun, as it is within our village and less than one kilometer away… compared to the long journey to Athi which took half a day. Now I can fetch as many trips without getting tired as it takes less time. Through water availability, I have now learned to wash my clothes and maintain good levels of cleanliness at a personal level.”

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.


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.