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Mwatate Well Project Update

June 30th, 2011 Project Progress Report

The Mwatate Well project was successfully completed.

AAF had initially purchased an expensive electric/solar powered water pump, but due to the sporadic availability of electricity in the project area, vandalism, and the high cost of maintaining this electric pump when it failed, AAF project teams went back to the drawing board.

AAF chose to adapt a simple,affordable, yet sustainable pump that can be fixed by the local handy men quickly and last a long time.

Mwatate Well Pump Design

AAF decided to use the Chinese rope design pump that uses locally available materials ensuring its strength and sustainability.

Design and installation was done by locally contracted handy men, employing the locals to do the work that will eventually benefit them.

Installing the Axel & Casing
The Metal Axel and casing wall being installed

Pump Mechanism being tested
Pump Mechanism being tested after rope guide and pvc pipes have been installed

This pump can lift water from as deep as 60m and produce 1 litre of water every second.

As the pump handle is turned, water is drawn up by plastic washers attached to a rope.

The Pumps are so easy to use that children as young as five years old can manage to pump out a bucket full of water. The pump is encased in concrete to prevent any contamination, ensuring that a clean sustainable supply of water is provided for the local community for many years to come

Mwatate Well Project
Mwatate Well with completed Pump and Well casing. More pictures of the completely painted and cleaned up project site will be available online soon.

The well is currently working, providing much needed water to the community.

June 6th, 2011 Project Progress Report

Currently, the well is on the final casing before we finally pump the water.

Below is a sketch of the project location.
Site Location Sketch

The project took the following Phases

Phase 1

  1. Location of the site
    Site location was a very important element in the project. Even though we had obtained a site, a lot of stumbling blocks especially relating to land ownership delayed this phase. We had gotten up to 3 sites with the same problem. However we finally located a suitable site at Singila Majengo. (View sketchmap above for the final project location).
  2. Site Survey
    Like any other construction site, survey for a water project is a requirement. This is also mandatory by the Water Resources Management Authority. The site survey should be carried out by a qualified Hydrological Engineer, in our case, we used the services of eng. Morris Mathenge. This process takes about 2 weeks.
  3. Impact Assessment / Hydrological Survey Report
    This report is produced by the hydrological engineer after a ground water resistivity survey. The engineer moved with his team to the ground and performed the resistivity test to know the type of rock formation and locate the water table.Click this link to view the Hydrological Report conducted on the final project location.
  4. Site Excavation
    With the use of community participatory approach, we welcomed the community to participate in ground excavation. This included clearing the site, digging, mud removal among  other activity. This was an important step to enable the community own the project. As a motivation we provided tea and bread for lunch to all that participated.
    Community helping with the site escavation
  5. Water Removal
    After 20 feet of soil and rock was excavation the underground water was successfully established at the bed rock. Though contaminated with mud and debris, the water had to be purified. This was simply done by pumping the water continuously with a generator pump. This process takes a week.
  6. Water Testing
    The well is covered and given 48 hours for all the debris to settle. After that period, the water sample from the well is carefully collected then taken for chemical and bacteriological test in Coast Water Services Board, Mombasa for testing to determine its fitness for human consumption and use.
  7. Well Construction
    The construction process included
    1. Complete draining of the well
      This was necessary to determine a firm base from which the construction of the well foundation.
    2. Well Foundation Construction
      The well foundation is vital to the well. This prevents the collapse of the well during construction and even eventual use of the well.
    3. Layering of the well
      This is important in ensuring that the well layered up to the top. In this process, we used Taveta Bricks (water resistant naturally occurring rocks) plastered with cement and water resistant additive. Each brick measures 20 by 8 by 6 inches and took about 300 bricks to layer to the top.
      Taveta bricks used to layer the well
  8. Test Pumping
    Test pumping of the well is very important in determining the yield of the well. This is done by timing the amount of cubic water per cubic meters per given time with a specific pump. In our case, our pump measured 20,000 cubic liters per 25 minutes which is quite sufficient for the target population.
  9. Casing of the Well
    This point includes shattering – timber is aligned below layers of mesh and metal. This layers will hold the ballast that will seal the well completely. This is a very delicate and dangerous process. We had a setback in this stage where our casing crashed into the well due to vandalism and made us remove all the debris again and clean the well.
    Collapsed Casing due to vandalism
  10. Installation of the pump and Tank
    This is the last stage of the project before we hand over to the community.
  11. Set backs experienced
    1. Conflict between community members of different CBOs
      Being a community driven project and the only one of its kind in Taita Taveta, we had to partner with community members through their community based organizations. However with time we have realized that some of the members had selfish interests in the project. In noticing that we had no hand outs to give, we were kicked out with our pilot cbo, a great set back to our efforts to finish the project within stipulated timeframe since we had to partner with another one. See attachment-Mwamuko_Mashinani_Letter.jpg,Mkawughanga_Maganga_Letter.jpg
    2. Land issues
      There is a serious land issue in Taita between the community and the sisal estate factory. This tassel spilled to some of the sites that we had started excavation till near completion.
    3. Poor weather
      The poor weather over the rainy season slowed our work. We could not do any work during the torrential downpours.
    4. High cost of Facilities and exagerrated labor costs from handymen
      Some of the materials costed more than we had budgeted. For example, the y12 metal bars, timber, petrol for running the water pump. In addition, local handymen that we worked with would charge exhobitant fees and dissapear without completing the work. During the phase of this project, we have had to hire 3 different 'fundis' who end up asking for more pay as the project progresses and sometimes going slow on work to demand a pay hike.  Likewise, unforseen expenses like the collapse of the casing saw us losing over ten bags of cement, man hours, and timber 6’4 ‘ over 10.


Estimated date of completion with no set-backs  - 25 June 2011

Handing over and commissioning- 2nd July 2011

May 13th, 2011 Update on the Mwatate Well Project:

Purchase of water-proof bricks, timber, steel, cement and building and covering of casing.

  • Construction of foundation and power house.
  • Commissioning of project to be completed before the end of the month


April 20th, 2011 Update on the Mwatate Well Project

AAF project team working on the Mwatate Well project overcame the challenges that set back the water project due to a few influential members of the Mwatate community intimidating people working on the project.  After several meetings with the community and the local administration officials, a small piece of land was provided by the local community group. AAF had to start the project from scratch.

Click this link to view the latest Hydrological Report conducted on the new piece of land.

After the hydrological report of the new piece of land was finalized, the community joined hands and started preparing the land for the initial digging of the well.

Mwatate Singila community preparing land for well digging

Mwatate Singila Community preparing land for the well project

After the community prepared the site, they dug a 15 foot hole at a location that was selected by the groundwater engineer. Drilling equipment was then brought in to drill up to 150 feet past the bedrock to an aquifer.

Hand digging of the well

Looking at the well after getting to the water


Cost Breakdown to date (April 2011) for second phase of project after set-back

  • Licenses & Legal & water analysis fees - Kshs. 15,300
  • Ground water survey - Kshs. 10,000
  • Hydrological report - Kshs. 20,000
  • Equipment, tools, labor, & upkeep for ground workers - Kshs. 68,400


What is left?

  • Install an 8" casing to keep the hole from collapsing.
  • Form a concrete base around the small casing.
  • Once the concrete pad is dry, the pump mechanism is carefully lowered into the hole and a hand pump is attached.

Because these new wells are completely sealed, the water stays clean and can be consumed without any treatment.

The budget for the pumps, casing, concrete, and labor is estimated at Kshs. 400,000 to completely finish the project and ensure the water pumped from the well is clean and can be consumed without any treatment.

Update written on March 24, 2011

I'm writing this update because many nonprofit organizations (NGO's) that my organization has partnered with that have good intentions are getting frustrated and giving up working with rural communities in Kenya and other parts of Africa because of corruption, intimidation, vandalism, and just lack of common sense by influential members of the local communities.

Amsha Africa Foundation "AAF" is funding a water project in the Majengo area in Mwatate, Taita Taveta County, Coast province in Kenya and we have been having serious setbacks working with the local community in this area.

During the initial project evaluation in 2009-2010, we partnered with a group called Mwamuko Mashinani -a Community based group working hand in hand with other C.B.Os in Taita Taveta County. We held several meetings with their leadership team, identified their needs - water being the crucial need - and came up with a budget that we would fund to build a solar powered bore hole complete with storage tanks and rain water collection devices.

When the project kicked off in February 2011, our field project lead (Robert Mwakio) visited Mwatate and was surprised to be told by some members of the Mwamuko Mashinani group led by a man called Mnjala Mwaluma who is the coordinator of this organization, that we should stop any work related to the project with no logical reason or explanation (See attachment-Mwamuko_Mashinani_Letter.jpg ).

Requests for meetings and follow-up phone calls to find the root cause that prompted Mwamuko Mashinani to write the letter were not answered. Some members of the group, including its chairman, had no problem working with the AAF on the project but it seems that there was some in-fighting within this group and after some additional fact finding, it dawned to us that some members of this group were looking for kick backs (bribes) in order to let the project start.

When they realized that they will not be receiving any kickbacks, they went around the community and spread malicious rumors about the project and told the local youth to jeopardize the project by issuing threats to our project teams, workers, and hiring youths to vandalize installed and stored equipment.

We had a crisis meeting and our field project team met with local authorities and moved to another project location, working with a different group of people. We hoped that this second location in Mwatate would not be affected by the issues we had at the previous location but we were wrong.

We were given land by a local owner (Mkawughanga Maganga) to get the bore hole project started, did a second expensive geological survey, and drilled a small test hole to the aquifer to sample the water and see if it was fit for human consumption and got approval from the Kenyan Government to conduct the drilling.

When all was said and done and our field teams were getting ready for the actual drilling, the same group and their affiliates that had stopped our drilling efforts in the original project location started issuing threats to the land owner (Mkawughanga Maganga) and demanded that he stops working with our nonprofit organization (NGO). He wrote a hand-written letter telling AAF to vacate his land claiming that he has a case being resolved over his land - see attachment (Mkawughanga_Maganga_Letter.jpg ).

Local youths were hired to stop any work in this land and forced AAF staff to pack its expensive drilling equipment and leave the area, issuing threats to anyone affiliated with AAF.  We are currently working with local authorities and are now forced to look for other alternatives.

My question is - When will Kenyans living in poverty ever use their common sense and see that there are people and organizations that are willing to help them live better and healthy lives without having to always offer kickbacks? When will communities just come together and think of their common good and work towards it?

As the founder of this organization, I have worked with many communities and my organization has funded several successful projects, however, I find it very frustrating when a few corrupt members of a community try to jeopardize projects that are only meant to help them.

I strongly believe that we should educate communities of the importance of community projects and how vital they are in alleviating poverty among them.


Tony Abuta
AAF Exec. Director

Mwatate Water Project Description

Amsha Africa Foundation water and sanitation project is dedicated to solve the water issue that has affected Mwatate area once and for all. The overall impact of the project is to have clean water that can serve overall use to sustain all the key sectors – domestic, agriculture, health and education.

Brief Description of Project

The Amsha Africa Foundation Mwatate Water and Sanitation project is working to build wells, boreholes, water tanks, and sanitation (pit latrines, waste disposal points, etc) at schools, medical clinics and churches - all public locations - for communities in Mwatate, Kenya that have suffered immensely from a lack of access to clean water due to the current drought situation facing this part of Kenya.

These sites are chosen because they are each open to the public and can serve large groups of people. The AAF team already conducted a study in the area with the help of local authorities and community leaders and identified the communities and areas that will benefit the most out of the project.

AAF and the local authorities in Mwatate have mobilized the communities involved to ensure effective management of the project and this has led to the formation of the 15 member Majengo Singila Local Water Management Committee that will develop project ownership and sustenance.
Mwasima Mbuwa Self Help Group

This committee has already identified the exact project sites in public locations (outside a medical clinic and a church in Mwatate) for the well/borehole construction that will serve the larger community.

In all cases, we work to ensure that the local community is actually invested in the project.

We work with the local authorities such as chiefs and district officers and community leaders to form Local Water Management Committees such as the Majengo Singila Group that will monitor and evaluate the project. In addition we make sure that the local community invests some money into the project so that they feel like they own part of the project.

The best ways we've seen that happen is to require the villages to arrange and pay for the initial geological survey work to be done. That usually costs a few hundred US dollars and requires the community to mobilize and organize around the project. In the long run, this initial commitment to the project means it will be valued and cared for by the community. It's an essential step.

Project Site

The proposed project site is located within Mwatate Division of the former Taita Taveta District.

The district experiences a bimodal rainfall pattern with the short rains occurring between October and December and the long rains between March and May.

Statement of the Problem(s) that this Project will Address

The 2008/2009 drought adversely affected the Mwatate region. Taps went dry and people had to walk several kilometers in search of water.

Over the past few months there has been extensive water shortage due to the drought that has hit most parts of Kenya. This has attributed to many problems such as poverty, hunger, limited access to education, and lack of health services.

During the long rain season of 2009, March – May, Taita Taveta district received very little rain. The drought is so severe that it has compromised food security. The severe water shortage is also compromising safe water sanitation services that could trigger waterborne diseases.

Children have been occasionally spotted drawing water from leaking sewages, oblivious of the dangers they are exposed to. The water load carried everyday is heavy and has caused chest complications to many locals especially those with low incomes. Some children have dropped out of school and to pursue water trading as a means of survival.

The Amsha Africa Foundation team noted the following:

  • Water supply is increasingly limited relative to demand. This is largely due to high population growth rates, water demand for irrigation and municipal use.
  • The cost of fresh potable water can be Ksh. 20 - 25 per 20 liters. The prices mean that although water may be obtainable, the costs are very high and thus cause major economic hardships.
  • Population growth is high and wastewater collection is expanding. Many towns are now implementing development projects for the improvement of municipal services and health conditions in their towns. Uncontrolled reuse is being practiced is some areas. Farmer’s divert untreated waste water from sewer outlets and irrigate vegetables that are sold in the markets. This could result in other food borne illness due to contamination.

Project Objectives:

To ensure availability of clean drinking water to the people around Mwatate region:

  • The most basic use of water is drinking. Water is an essential element to our bodies. For many years the community members around Mwatate have not had access to clean drinking water. Most of the boreholes that had been sunk produced either saline water, were contaminated and many have run dry. This has had a wider influence to overall socioeconomic activities. With clean drinking water, we will put an end to issues regarding health – waterborne diseases and ensure that the community member get direct access to clean drinking water over a long period of time.

Improve the health care system:

  • Through our research, we noted that most of the health centers are non functional. With lack of piped water, these health centers cannot be able to run basic functions such as first aid, wound treatment among others. With water running, most health centers such as Modambogo Health center will be revived. The overall impact of this will be to ensure that the community members in the region enjoy good health. To achieve this, Amsha Africa team in collaboration with volunteer doctors from the United States will be regularly running free treatment in attempts to completely eradicate diseases that can be avoided like Malaria, Typhoid among others.

Improve agricultural activity through irrigation

  • With poor rainfall in the Mwatate region, agriculture cannot flourish. Amsha Africa is planning to educate the area residence on improved agricultural practices using irrigation as a source of water. With very fertile soils crop cultivation using irrigation can be a success and the residence can put agriculture as an economic activity. Recycling of water can be used to irrigate crops and likewise curb issues regarding food security.

Project Evaluation

With facts and figures at hand, Amsha Africa is projecting that the project will be a success once implemented. Water shortage has been a major issue in the Mwatate region over decades. This has been attributed to receding rainfall quantity over the years.
Once this project is implemented, key sectors such as health, sanitation, education, agriculture and overall development will benefit.
The evaluation period could go from 3 to 2 years and radical changes will be noted.

Strategy for continuation

After the completion of the water project, AAF will officially hand over the project to the water management committee that has been formed from the community members to overlook the sustainability of the project.

AAF will closely monitor the management of the project through frequent visits to the site and have a permanent representative in the community who will be reporting to AAF.

To ensure long-term sustainability of the project,  private investors, individuals, the council and even government agencies will be encouraged to pipe and tap the water and pay monthly fees to ensure sustainability of the water.

This fee will be able to cater for servicing and basic repairs that might be experienced over the years.  With time, the committee can expand the projects depending on the demand from both the locals and the clients.

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