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Location: Kenya

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 300 Served

Project Phase:  Installed

Functionality Status: 

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

The Syakama Self-Help Group was formed in 2015, and now has 34 members. The members come from three different villages. The motivation for their coming together is to tackle water insecurity issues within the three villages.

As of last year, the average age of group members is 42. Some members have started “Zero Grazing” (dairy farming) as a means of income. Without sufficient access to water, this activity is bound to fail despite heavy investments during startup. After discussions with members, we learned they have a strong belief that investing in water projects like this shallow well and other sand dams will enable them to solve the water crisis; a huge burden which their parents also had to endure throughout their lives. With water nearby, the members plan to invest in initiatives such as farming and tree-planting, which have great potential to improve living standards.

The self-help group approached ASDF for support in constructing another sand dam and shallow well further down River Miseke. The first system was built last year in Kavumbu, and now they’d like to increase water access in Syakama.

Water Situation

The first sand dam and well system were built in a location along the riverbed that was closest to a portion of group members. However, there are still members who live further down the river who must spend a huge portion of their day fetching water. To cut down on trips to the first hand-dug well, these far-away group members load up their donkeys to carry as many water containers as possible.

Sanitation Situation

Though from different villages, all of the self-help group members were trained together last year (click here to see that). Revisiting a year later has encouraged our trainers; it is apparent that members taught their families valuable hygiene and sanitation practices, and shared those with their neighbors.

All Syakama households still have their own pit latrines. 100% of these families also have dedicated bathing rooms for practicing personal hygiene. Every home has a dish rack and clothesline for drying things up off the ground, and over 3/4 of families have a hand-washing station.

As we visited these families, they were enthusiastic to receive us and show us their homes.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Review

Because of the obvious positive uptake of knowledge shared last year, we’ve decided to hold review sessions for two days. Our trainers will continue to stress the importance of treating water before consuming it. We will also strengthen the committee in charge of water point management and maintenance, equipping them with the skills to ensure there’s clean water for generations to come.

The group members who have not yet constructed a hand-washing station will be reminded of its importance in preventing communicable diseases.

Plans: Hand-Dug Well

The Syakama Self-Help Group has decided that this second hand-dug well should be constructed further down the river in Syakama. As of now, folks living in Syakama Village have to walk to the first hand-dug well in Kavumbu.

It will be dug adjacent to the sand dam (click here to see that project) being simultaneously constructed. As the sand dam matures, it will build up sand and naturally filter the river’s water and the rainwater supplied during the rainy season.

It will raise the water table and transform the land, making it fertile for farming. The installation of this hand-dug well will ensure that water from this sand dam is safely drawn for drinking.

Recent Project Updates

07/11/2017: Syakama Community Well Complete

Syakama 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, so make sure to check them out!

Project Result: Hygiene and Sanitation Review

The training attendance was great, as most of the members were present. All group members were engaged with what they were learning and promised to change their behavior and practices.

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People gather together to review the sanitation and hygiene practices they learned last year, focusing on strengthening their weaknesses.

There were quite a few topics that the group and their communities were struggling with, and the trainer worked with them to pick out an agenda that would be most helpful. They decided to review:

-Environmental sanitation

-Latrine sanitation

-Water treatment and storage

-Food preparation and storage

-Kitchen and utensil hygiene

-Tippy tap construction (hand-washing station made from a jerrycan, rope, and sticks) and hand-washing

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The trainer talks about the importance of making hand-washing a priority in every household.

When looking through the pictures attached to this report, you’ll find some of both last year’s training and this year’s review.

There was also an activity that taught group members how to make their own soap. The soap will serve three different purposes:

-Sanitize hands and protect people from germs
-Unlock opportunities for group profit: A total of 40 liters of soap was made during training, much of which the members plan to sell to neighbors in their community and at markets
-Increase household income: Some group members plan to teach the other adults in their households how to make this soap, turning it into a regular business

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Group members take turns mixing soap to sell the rest of the community.

The training staff was sure to share on how to best procure materials and set fair prices for this soap.

After the review and the soap making activities, a short interview was conducted to gather impressions of the training and current standards of living. One member was chosen to represent the rest of the group. Esther Wayua Mutuku had the following to say:

“The training has been a good one to me and I have learned alot today since in the last training, I was not present. Among the new things that I have learned is the construction of a tippy tap, different methods of water treatment and above all, the knowledge that I have gained on soap making. On the other hand, as far as the quality and quantity of water is concerned, there’s a great change and we are grateful for that. The distance to water sources has been shortened and we fetch the water for free. On the side of nutrition, things have improved because we get our vegetables from within at affordable prices.”

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ASDF staff interviews Esther about her thoughts on sanitation, hygiene, and water in her community.

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. Once they started digging this well, they worked hard to finish as soon as possible; any heavy rain, and work progress could be either flooded or washed away.

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The well is lined with stones and cement, allowing for perforations throughout the water table.

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. When finished, we measured and found that the community was able to reach 16 feet.

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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Building the well pad and preparing to cover the excavated 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 AfriDev pump.

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04/13/2017: Syakama Hand-Dug Well Underway

Syakama Community in Kenya will soon have clean water closer to home. A new well is being constructed adjacent to a new sand dam, 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.

Thank You for your generous help!

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Explore More of The Project

Project Photos

Project Data

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump
Location:  Makueni, Syakama
ProjectID: 4781
Install Date:  07/11/2017


Project Sponsor - Barbara Belle Ash Dougan Foundation

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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.