Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 254 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2017

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/20/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

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

The Mbuuni Self-Help Group is located in Mbuuni Village, Kaani sub-location, Iveti location, Kathiani Sub-County of Machakos County. The household size of the self-help group has an average of five members while the average age of the group is 45. Mbuuni Village itself has a total population of 254.

36% of the members said that their main source of income is casual labor, which is mostly available during the planting and harvesting seasons. Another 27% depends on farming as their sole source of income. 27% of the group members said that they rely on a salary at the end of the month, 7% of the members operate small businesses which act as their main source of daily income while a small percent (2%) rely on other sources. 1% of the whole group relies on livestock sales for income.

Water Situation

The Machakos government drilled a borehole in this region, which has become the safe, go-to source for the surrounding population of a huge circumference. Though many living in Mbuuni Village are drinking clean water from this borehole, they are doing so at an extremely high cost:

  • 21% of members travel over 1 km to this source
  • The majority line up at the borehole waiting for water for more than 2 hours
  • 27% wait for about 1 hour

Couple the travel time and the wait time together, and a majority of the day is spent focused on water access.

Thus, a majority of community members walk to the nearby riverbed where they dig scoop holes for water. Though many mothers boil water before serving it to their families, waterborne disease is still a common consequence of drinking scoop hole water. These open holes in the riverbed are subject to contamination from all directions!

When delivered home, water is poured into larger plastic storage containers.

Sanitation Situation

Sanitation and hygiene is not the predominant issue in Mbuuni Village, it is water access. People are doing their best to keep their compounds clean with the little water they have. 100% of homes have their own latrine, and those we observed were in fairly good condition. Everyone also has a dedicated facility for practicing personal hygiene.

A majority of families are also utilizing helpful tools like dish racks and clotheslines to safely dry their belongings up off the ground. However, there were only a few hand-washing stations observed.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

To address gaps in hygiene and sanitation practices in Mbuuni Community, training will be offered to self-help group members on two consecutive days. The members will learn about useful practices and tools to improve health, and then will be able to share those with their families and neighbors. Water transport, storage, and treatment methods will be taught, and hand-washing will be a focus. Group members will learn how to make their own hand-washing stations with everyday materials.

Plans: Hand-Dug Well

This hand-dug well will be one of many construction projects to come in the next few years. We will spend a total of five years unified with this community to address the water shortage. More sand dams will be built to transform the environment. As the sand dam matures and builds up more sand, the water table will rise. To safely access this water, hand-dug wells like this one will be installed.

This particular hand-dug well is being built adjacent to the group's first sand dam (click here to see that project). We have supplied the group with the tools needed for excavation. With the guidance of our artisans and mechanics, the excavated well will be cased, sealed with a well pad, and then finished with a new AfriDev pump.

Project Updates

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Mbuuni Community

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 Mbuuni, Kenya.

During our training, we met Janet Mutuku, a 44-year-old teacher who lives in the community.

Janet Mutuku

She shared with us the challenges she faces during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is not working right now since the schools are closed across Kenya. That has made her life more difficult. However, the set of sand dams and hand-dug wells that her self-help group constructed over the past few years is something Janet can rely on.

“Having a well and sand dam project at this time has been a great blessing and we are very grateful for the support granted by The Water Project. Times are hard and having a reliable source of water is very advantageous," she said.

Fetching water from one of the Mbuuni wells, before COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

Handwashing station

"We are expected to wash our hands frequently and this has been possible because our projects have been providing an abundant supply of water,” Janet said.

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.

September, 2018: A Year Later: Mbuuni Community Well

A year ago, generous donors helped construct a sand dam and hand-dug well for Mbuuni Community in Kenya. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow teams to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the water project over time. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories. Read more...

November, 2017: Clean Water Flowing in Mbuuni

We are so excited to report that clean water is now flowing from the well in Mbuuni. Patience has paid off! The water supply will continue to improve, becoming more reliable as the adjacent sand dam matures during the rainy season.

You make this transformation possible. Thank You!

June, 2017: Mbuuni Community Well Complete

Mbuuni Community has a new source of clean, safe water thanks to your support! A new hand-dug well has been constructed adjacent to a sand dam, which is building up sand to raise the water table and naturally filter water. The self-help group members also attended training on 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: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

Hygiene and sanitation training was held at one of the group members’ homesteads. Over 90% of the self-help group attended, setting the total attendance at 153 people!

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

11 kenya4760 training

Community members gather round and discuss hygiene and sanitation action plans for their homes.

Local businesswoman Felistus Kioko was one of the 80 women who attended training. “The training was good and a success. I have learned a lot of new things as far as hygiene and sanitation is concerned. Some of the things that I have learnt that I didn’t even know are important include; How to construct a dish rack, Importance of digging a rubbish pit, cleaning water jerricans, cleaning compounds and burning litter, latrine hygiene and different methods of water treatment. I have also learned that I should cover my latrine with a lid,” she shared.

3 kenya4760 training

People split into groups and discussed different hygiene and sanitation practices illustrated on handouts.

Project Result: Hand-Dug Well

The self-help community members excavated the hole and collected all of the local materials required for successful completion of the project. They also provided unskilled labour when actual construction work started.

2 kenya4780 well construction

The excavation team also prepared the ground for the concrete well platform.

A hole seven feet in diameter is excavated up to a recommended depth of 25 feet. (Most hand-dug wells don’t reach that depth due to the existence of hard rocks between 10-18 ft.). The diameter then shrinks to five feet when construction of the hand-dug well lining is completed. This lining is made of brick and mortar with perforations to allow for water to seep through. We're happy to report that when finished, we measured and found that the community members were actually able to reach 25 feet!

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Where's the ladder?

Once the construction of the lining reaches ground level, a precast concrete slab is laid on top and joined to the wall using mortar. Four bolts for the hand-pump are fixed on the slab during casting. The well is then given a few days after installing the pump, allowing the joints to completely dry. Communities are advised to pump out the first water that seeps into the well because it often has a foul smell and a bad taste. After pumping for a while, the water becomes clean and clear.

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Project committee members learn from the mechanic as he installs the new AfriDev pump on their well.

This hand-dug well was built simultaneously with its adjacent sand dam (to see the sand dam, click here). The sand dam will collect sand that stores and filters huge amounts of water, water that will then be accessed through the pump. The well platform appears to be raised above the ground in anticipation of the sand that will build up around it during the coming rainy seasons.

Project Photos

Project Type

Hand-dug wells have been an important source of water throughout human history! Now, we have so many different types of water sources, but hand-dug wells still have their place. Hand dug wells are not as deep as borehole wells, and work best in areas where there is a ready supply of water just under the surface of the ground, such as next to a mature sand dam. Our artisans dig down through the layers of the ground and then line the hole with bricks, stone, or concrete, which prevent contamination and collapse. Then, back up at surface level, we install a well platform and a hand pump so people can draw up the water easily.


1 individual donor(s)