A Year Later: Kavumbu Community Sand Dam

December, 2017

My life has changed positively because initially I couldn’t plant vegetables, and I was just a casual laborer. I am now able to grow vegetables which I sell. This month, I have made 8,000 shillings…

A Year Later: Kavumbu Community Sand Dam

A year ago, generous donors helped build a sand dam for the Syakama Self-Help Group in Makueni County of Kenya. Because of these gifts and the contributions of 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 Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF) partner, Joe Kioko, with you.


This area has changed drastically since the installation of a sand dam last year. Before, people had to walk half the day to find water. Now, they have it close to home: The distance has decreased from five kilometers to less than a kilometer. Nearly everyone has planted trees that will conserve the environment.

Picture taken in August 2017

Time initially wasted is now used for other income-generating activities. The dam is filled with sand, and people from as far as three kilometers away come to this water point to fetch water. Washing clothes is much easier due to the soft water from the project.

The project has been supplying them with water throughout the year, which means they’re no longer losing their livestock during the dry season. Because of the water availability, the children are cleaner and the environment is greener.

John Kyalo showing our staff the group vegetable plots they’ve successfully planted.

We met self-help group member John Kyalo at the dam. He said, “My life has changed positively because initially I couldn’t plant vegetables, and I was just a casual laborer. I am now able to grow vegetables which I sell. This month, I have made 8,000 shillings from sale of spinach, kales and tomatoes. I no longer struggle paying school fees for my children… We also make bricks for sale and build better houses.”

Field Officer Mutheu Mutune interviewing John Kyalo.

14-year-old Mwongeli Muswawa is happy that she can now run and fetch water on her own, which is used at home to help with chores. She said she’s grateful for the “reduced distance to the water source. Initially, we’d walk seven kilometers to Miseke River in order to fetch drinking water, but now it tales less than 30 minutes.”

Mutheu Mutune and Mwongeli Muswawa

However, it’s worth noting that this sand dam and well system is still maturing. Since this is one of Syakama’s newest projects, it was especially susceptible to the severe drought this last year. Though the dam and well are serving the community by bringing clean water close to home, there are still times when water is not available, and people have to travel to other sources.


As the young sand dam continues to mature through the rainy seasons, building up sand and storing even more clean water, the hand-dug well will become more reliable.

Most of our other southeastern Kenya projects are like this too; they are systems that need time to mature in order to provide clean, reliable water throughout drought. We look forward to this happening here, and are excited to monitor the transformation!

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.



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