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Location: Kenya

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 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

Ivuka Self-Help Group was formed in January 2016 with the objective of developing and enhancing the social welfare of its members. The group now has a membership of 25 members who come from Ivumbu, Kasioni and Kaani Communities which have a total population of 4,220 people. Their greater region hosts 14,000 people coming from 1,650 different households.

(Editor’s Note: While this many people may have access on any given day, realistically a single water source can only support a population of 350-500 people. That’s why we’ve formed a relationship with this group and plan to support them to do multiple water projects over the next couple of years until adequate water is available. To learn more, click here.)

We visited with and interviewed two different families. At the first household, we met with 70-year-old Teresia Kilonzo who takes care of her grandchildren during the day. At the second household, we spoke with 41-year-old mother Mbithe Nzomo.

Water Situation

The majority of people living in this region must travel to the Thwake River to find water. Some families are able to decrease these trips with the collection of rainwater – if they are able to afford a tank and gutter system (you will see one of these 3,000-liter tanks in the pictures from our visit with Teresia Kilonzo). Of course this is entirely contingent on the weather, and unfortunately there are rainless months in western Kenya. Both rainwater and the water collected from the river is used for drinking, cooking, irrigating farms, and cleaning.

At first look the river appears dry, but community members know that if they dig a hole in the sand, they’ll hit water. These holes are muddied by the surrounding sand, and are open to contaminate from many other sources. The water in the riverbed is especially dangerous during and after heavy rains. Feces, chemicals from local farms, and other waste is washed into the water. These scoop holes are also unguarded and open to wandering animals that need a drink (or a bath!).

Women carry a plastic jerrycan and a smaller container to the river, using one to fill the other. Most households have at least one pack animal to help them carry their full 20-liter containers back home. After drinking, community members suffer from waterborne diseases.

(Editor’s Note: Please note that the scoop hole picture included in this report is an example taken from a different project.)

Sanitation Situation

Latrine coverage here is impressive; every household has at least one pit facility where they can properly dispose of waste. Over half of all the Ivuka Self-Help Group members have hand-washing stations and helpful tools like dish racks and clotheslines. 65% have dug a pit for their garbage, which keeps it from blowing around and polluting the environment.

Farmer Muthama Nzioki still notices lots of room for improvement, telling us that “Although all members of our group have pit latrines in their homes, most lack the basic knowledge of proper sanitation. Most people don’t wash hands after visiting the latrines and very few treat drinking water because they think spending 30 shillings on “water guard” (water treatment chemicals) is a lot of money. We are therefore looking forward to the sanitation training which will be an eye opener to most if not all group members.”

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

To address gaps in hygiene and sanitation practices in these three communities, training will be offered to self-help group members on three 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. To motivate participants, we must show the links between these activities and their people’s health. To further develop group members, we will work together to draft an action plan that will realize good sanitation and hygiene in each home, the overall villages, and their water points.

Plans: Hand-Dug Well

Members of Ivuka Self-Help Group heard about us from a neighboring self-help group that we are working with. They then approached our field officer with a request for support, and after verifying that they had the relevant registration documents, they were put on our mandatory six-month probation period. During this time, locals are expected to seriously take development to heart and begin constructing hygiene facilities and gathering local materials to be used in the construction process. After that, we returned to verify their water challenges and their need for additional support. The evidence to warrant our support was sufficient, and the group was taken on board.

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 their clean water shortage. More sand dams will be built to transform the environment. As the sand dams mature and build up more sand, the water table will rise. To safely access this water, hand-dug wells like this one will be installed.

The wells are always located next to sand dams. The sand dam location is proposed by the self-help group and then approved by the technical team. The group always proposes sites that will be central and convenient for every group member to access.

This particular hand-dug well is being built adjacent to this group’s ongoing sand dam project (click here to see). 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.

Excavation takes a month or more on average, depending on the nature of the rock beneath. Construction of the well lining and installation of the pump takes 12 days maximum. The well will be lined with a concrete wall with perforations to allow water to seep in through the sand.

Recent Project Updates

11/20/2017: Clean Water Flowing in Kaani Community

We are so excited to report that clean water is now flowing from the well in Kaani Community. Patience has paid off, and it is such a blessing seeing young and old enjoying clean, safe drinking water! 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!

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10/17/2017: Kaani Community Hand-Dug Well Complete

Kaani Community’s new hand-dug well is now installed, thanks to your support! It has been dug adjacent to a sand dam system. As rainy seasons occur over time, sand will build up behind the dam, storing and filtering water that will fill the well and raise the water table in the area. 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! We look forward to reaching out again after this system has matured and started providing clean water.

Project Result: New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was held at a self-help group member’s homestead. Group leadership corresponded with our field officer, Veronica Matolo, to plan this schedule. Attendance and participation was good, with members more than willing to learn new things and put them into practice.

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

By the end of training, the group had developed their own action plan to implement the hygiene and sanitation practices they learned. Mr. Onsemus Nzyoki said, “The training was very educative and also enjoyable. We have had a chance of three days to learn a lot of things – and especially on a lot of mistakes that we do knowingly and unknowingly in our homes. From the many things that were trained in the three days, I have learned the importance of treating drinking water and the different methods of doing it. I have also learned that it is very important to have a latrine at our water sources to prevent contamination of our drinking water with human feces, as well as constructing latrines in our homes. Still on the latrines, I gained knowledge on the site where latrines should be constructed as well as how to keep them clean. I have learned the importance of having other sanitation infrastructures for instance, having a tippy-tap (hand-washing station), utensil rack and a rubbish pit among others.”

The self-help group’s committee will continue to ensure implementation of hygiene and sanitation lessons learnt during this project. They will check on improvements made at each member’s homestead, like having a dish rack, pit latrine, rubbish pit, and hand-washing station etc. The group is also responsible for training new members that join. They will oversee operation and maintenance of the AfriDev pump, seeking our help when needed.

Project Result: Hand-Dug Well

We delivered the experts and materials, but the community helped get an extraordinary amount of work done. They collected local materials to supplement the project, including sand and water. When it was time to dig, they were there to excavate the well.

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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.

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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. As our mechanic install the AfriDev pump, community members gather around to learn firsthand how to maintain and repair their pump. The well is then given a few days after installing the pump, allowing the joints to completely dry. After it rains, 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 that for a while, the water becomes clean and clear.

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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 next few years’ rainy seasons. Mr. Nzyoki said, “We are now assured of access to safe drinking water after rains, since we have a shallow well that is protected.” He and his neighbors anticipate great transformation as soon as the first rain, rain that will bring clean water closer to home and transform their dry and sandy surroundings into a greener, more fertile land.

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08/21/2017: Kaani Community Hand-Dug Well Underway

Kaani Community in Kenya will soon have a clean source of water, thanks to your generous donation. A new well is being constructed adjacent to a new sand dam, and the community will attend training on important 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 community details, maps, and pictures. We will keep you posted as the work continues!

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Explore More of The Project

Project Photos

Project Data

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump
Location:  Machakos, Kaani
ProjectID: 4787
Install Date:  10/15/2017


Project Sponsor - Sacred Heart Cathedral

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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.