Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 207 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Dec 2016

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 11/23/2022

Project Features

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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 Updates

12/02/2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Leonard Nguluma Maloloi

This post is part of a new series by The Water Project meant to highlight the perspectives and experiences of the people we serve and how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them. We invite you to read more of their stories here.

Our team recently visited Kanthuni to conduct COVID-19 prevention training and monitor their water point. Shortly after, we returned to check in on the community, offer a COVID-19 refresher training, and ask how the pandemic affects their lives.

During this most recent visit, Leonard Nguluma Maloloi shared his story of how the coronavirus is impacting his life and his community.

Field Officer Lilian Kendi met Leonard outside his home to conduct the interview. Both Leonard and Lilian observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Leonard’s story, in his own words.

What is one thing that has changed in your community since the completion of the water project?

We have experienced a lot of changes in this community since the installation of this water point. Water diseases such as typhoid are not as rampant as before because we have clean and safe water for drinking from the shallow well. The general environment has also changed since the sand dam project's construction as the water table has been replenished. Our livestock does not have to walk long distances to get drinking water as the water point is adjacent to our homes. Community members have been using the water to plant vegetables such as kales, spinach, and tomatoes. We have plenty of food thanks to this project.

How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?

Availability of clean water has helped us during this period as we now have water for drinking and for washing our hands at all times. We have also been using the water for irrigation purposes, which has helped keep us afloat during this pandemic as we have had food on our farms.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Kenya, has fetching water changed for you because of restrictions, new rules, or your concerns about the virus?

I have encountered several changes regarding fetching water since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country. Now I have to abide by the government's rules and restrictions, such as wearing masks at all times whenever I'm at the water point, Handwashing before and after handling the hand pump, and observing social distancing by making queues when fetching water.

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

My children who lived and worked in Nairobi frequently sent remittances before the onset of the pandemic; however, since it set in, they could not send any money due to loss of jobs as most of the companies were downsizing their employees.

What other challenges are you experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Stabilizing the economy has been very gradual as commodities are still pricey due to the Coronavirus pandemic's effects. The second wave of the pandemic has more citizens succumbing to the disease, which is causing a lot of fear in our day-to-day activities. We are keen on observing the rules and regulations as we are afraid of contracting the disease.

What hygiene and sanitation steps have you and your community has taken to stop the spread of the virus?

We have taken several steps to cope with the spread of the virus. Among them are: -Social distancing -Washing hands at all times using clean water and soap -Wearing of masks.

Like most governments worldwide, the Kenyan government continues to set and adjust restrictions both nationally and regionally to help control the spread of the virus.

What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?

I was most excited about the opening of churches and the lift on the age limit as this would enable our children to receive counsel from their elders and know the right ways to follow. We are also allowed to have social gatherings as long as we follow the government's rules and regulations.

What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?

Life is still normalizing, and we are comfortable with the progress of how things are unfolding. I look forward to the schools' opening as our children adopt unhealthy behaviors due to peer pressure, and it isn't easy to control them.

When asked where he receives information about COVID-19, Leonard listed the radio, word of mouth, and our team's sensitization training.

What has been the most valuable part of the COVID-19 sensitization training you received from our team?

The COVID-19 Training and Sensitization was beneficial to my family and me. I learned that handwashing at all times is critical in fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic. Wearing masks is also essential, especially in public places, to protect oneself from exposure to the virus.

How has got food been at this time?

We have had abundant food on our farm thanks to the previous rainy season. The only challenge was purchasing food from retail shops as most shops were closed due to the pandemic. However, using water from the sand dam project, we could engage in small scale farming of vegetables such as kales, spinach, tomatoes, onions, and green pepper.

05/21/2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Wasya wa Athi

Our teams are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us in our fight against the virus while maintaining access to clean, reliable water.

We are carrying out awareness and prevention trainings on the virus in every community we serve. Very often, our teams are the first (and only) to bring news and information of the virus to rural communities like Wasya wa Athi, Kenya.

We trained community members on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19.

Due to public gathering concerns, we worked with trusted community leaders to gather a select group of community members who would then relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

We covered essential hygiene lessons:

- Demonstrations on how to build a simple handwashing station

- Proper handwashing technique

- The importance of using soap and clean water for handwashing

- Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces including at the water point.

We covered COVID-19-specific guidance in line with national and international standards:

- Information on the symptoms and transmission routes of COVID-19

- What social distancing is and how to practice it

- How to cough into an elbow

- Alternative ways to greet people without handshakes, fist bumps, etc.

- How to make and properly wear a facemask.

During training, we installed a new handwashing station with soap near the community’s water point,

Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we also dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the disease and provide extra information where needed.

Water access, sanitation, and hygiene are at the crux of disease prevention. You can directly support our work on the frontlines of COVID-19 prevention in all of the communities we serve while maintaining their access to safe, clean, and reliable water.

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.

Project Photos

Project Type

Dug Well and Hand Pump

Hand-dug wells are best suited for clay, sand, gravel and mixed soil ground formations. A large diameter well is dug by hand, and then lined with either bricks or concrete to prevent contamination and collapse of the well. Once a water table is hit, the well is capped and a hand-pump is installed – creating a complete and enclosed water system.

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.

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Wasya wa Athi Community 2.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Wasya wa Athi Community 2 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 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.

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 Wasya wa Athi Community 2 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 Wasya wa Athi Community 2 – 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!


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