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The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -
The Water Project: Kakai Community -

Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Program: Sand Dams in Kenya

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  Installed - Jun 2012

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/12/2019

Project Features

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Community Profile

The Water Project is delighted to have the opportunity to expand our WASH program and embark on a pilot project with the African Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF).

ASDF is based in Mtito Andei, a small town on the road between Nairobi and Mombasa in Kenya. In the coming months ASDF will be working hand in hand with Kakai Self Help Group. The people of Kakai have organised themselves into a coherent team, comprised of 22 men and 18 women, and are ready to fully contribute to the project. Due to the arid nature of their locality, these people face daily challenges relating to a lack of food and a scarcity of water, and understand the importance of working together to change their future.

This project is exciting in that it is multi-faceted and dynamic, as well as being different from our usual program of borehole based water supplies.

ASDF make sand dams. They work with communities to identify sections of local rivers that have high seasonal flow. With help from ASDF, the community then builds a concrete dam across the river. During the rainy season, water collects behind the dam, and brings with it tonnes and tonnes of sand and silt. Over the course of around three such wet periods, the sand builds up behind the dam. And here is where the beauty of the technology lies, because as well as the sand behind the dam there is also water. In between every grain of sand there is a space, and that space is filled with H2O. Estimates of quite how much water vary, but anything between 25 and 40% of the entire volume is water!

In times of rain and flash flooding, and once the dam is backfilled with sand, the river continues its course over the top of the dam, ensuring that  people living down stream of the dam are still able to use the river, as before.

Running through the bottom of the dam is a plastic pipe, with a tap on the end. Community members need only turn the tap on to get clean sand filtered water , year round, on demand. We think that is pretty amazing, and cannot wait to see the impact our work and collaboration with ASDF  is having on the people of Kakai Self Help Group.

Sand dams also have the effect of raising the local water table. This can have miraculous impacts on the potential for local agriculture, and leads to the creation of beautiful oases in the desert.

Because of this, The Water Project has committed to additional elements of this pilot project, including a shallow well and hand pump, to be installed a short distance away from the dam. Whereas prior to the dam such a well would not be possible, with the dam in place it becomes feasible.

As well as the construction of the dam and shallow well, we are also funding community led agricultural activities, (including tree planting, terracing and the creation of a seed bank) and a hygiene and sanitation promotion campaign. We want the impact of this dam to be as great as possible, and to lead to healthier people living in an environment where clean water is available, and the potential is there for sustainability over the long term.

ASDF are scheduled to start this project in September 2011, and we will be with them every step of the way.

Keep a look out for more updates on this in the coming weeks, including photos of the community hygiene and sanitation program, and of the dam construction process.

Project Updates

10/09/2012: Kakai Self Help Group update

Here’s an update on progress from ASDF:

The self help group (SHG) has started earning an income from the vegetables they have grown using water harvested in their Sand dams. The SHG has established a tree nursery which has different tree varieties. They have fruit trees such as mango trees and shade trees.

Joyce Kilundo who is the secretary of the group says; “before building the sand dams we were not able to practise horticulture, we were growing cowpeas for vegetable during the rainy season but after the rains they would dry up and the only option was to buy vegetables from local markets which came from very far, without cabbages from kikuyu land we could not have any vegetables but now we have grown kales, cowpeas, and tomatoes with the water in the sand dam. Our health has improved and we are getting money from selling the surplus.”

Such encouraging news coming from Kenya! 

The Water Project : joyce-kilundo_kakai-sand-dam-shg-demo-farm-they-have-grown-kales-and-tomatoes

06/12/2012: Kakai Self Help Group Project complete

African Sand Dam Foundation have sent through confirmation that the shallow well is now complete, and that brings to a close the hardware phase of this project. This direct from ASDF: 

Kakai Sand dam SHG 

Members of this Group have already completed their shallow well and are using the water from both the dam and the shallow well for farming, livestock and domestic purposes. They are now saving much of the time they used to spend fetching water to do other chores. 52 year old Domitila Wanza a beneficiary of the project says “We have seen great impacts since we used to travel for 8km to fetch water but now we are spend just 30 minutes. I spend the time saved to terrace my farm, graze my livestock, plant trees and attend to other domestic activities.”

They also have a demo farm and a nursery where they have planted vegetables; kales, tomatoes and onions that they plan to sell to raise incomes and living standards.

Other than that, we have also established that the sanitation training that group members underwent was a great success and participants have implemented 99% of all what was agreed on in the work plan during the training sessions. 

Rhodah Ndindi is the field officer in charge of this group and this is what she had to say from the last monitoring visit she made to the farms:

 “It’s amazing how these members have implemented most of what they were trained on. Before the training, there were hardly any rubbish pits and hand washing facilities in most households. That seems to have changed significantly as each member is now proud to show off what they have been able to achieve after the training. Tippy taps seem to be the most favourite facility that each has enthusiastically implemented.” 

Most members reckon that the training was an eye opener as before it, they took most hygiene promotion practices like hand washing and food covering for granted. But they now appreciate the knowledge gained as disease incidences especially from poor water and food handling have significantly dropped.

The Water Project : completed-kakai-shallow-well-17-2

02/15/2012: Sand dam and shallow well update from ASDF

We’ve just received a report of progress of our pilot with African Sand Dam Foundation. What follows is direct from the field: 

1. Seed bank Progress

The seed bank program for which members of Kakai Self Help Group received seeds last year is on course and farmers are scheduled to return seeds to the communal seed bank by latest Friday 10th Feb 2012. Once the seeds are in store, they’ll be trained on post harvest management techniques by the field officer in charge as well as be provided with chemicals to treat the seeds so as to keep pests at bay. The training is especially relevant because it helps them understand causes of aflatoxin and how to avoid it. We’ll update on the exact varieties of stored seeds and quantities once the process is complete.

2. Shallow well excavation

Excavation of the shallow well is ongoing and as of yesterday, they had attained a depth of 10 ft. Though they have reached a point where water is available already, the slow pace is due to a hard rock that was encountered as reported in the last report. We have advised them to worker harder and achieve a depth of at least 25 ft which will give them sufficient water column.

On the other hand, we have already procured the hand pump and are only waiting for the group to attain the agreed depth before our technical team moves in to do the installation.

3. Terracing/tree growing

These two activities are ongoing though they haven’t quite picked up well for this year. The reason being that members are engaged in preparation for a second sand dam as well as completing work at the shallow well. Add that to the fact that harvesting whatever little they managed to get from their farms is not completely over and you’ll get a justification for the slow pace of these two activities. However, as there’s adequate time, the set targets will still be achieved and reported on, on time.

4. PHAST action plan implementation

The agreed on action plans have been implemented as follows;

  • Pit latrine excavation 91% of the 33 trained members have implemented this activity. 
  • Construction of utensil racks – implementation rate at 82% 
  • Tippy tap hand washing facility –Implementation rate at 91% 
  • Digging of rubbish pit – implementation at 91% 
  • Boiling of drinking water – implementation at 82%
  • The deadlines for most of the activities have elapsed but those lagging in implementation
  • are reminded on a weekly basis by the field officer to do it for their own benefit.
We’ll update again just as soon as we can. Thanks for reading! 

The Water Project : kakai-sw-during-excavation-19

01/17/2012: PHAST Training complete

African Sand Dam Foundation have completed the Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST) community training phase of this project with Kakai Self Help Group. This aspect of the work is a new area for ASDF. Previously they have concentrated their efforts on agricultural techniques and environmental conservation work alongside their sand dams, but now that we are funding some of their work, together we have started to develop their WASH approaches and include this vital aspect of development work in the remit of ASDF. 

Despite being new to the work, ASDF have reported that the community work was a success, and that the members of the self help group responded well to the training. We can now look forward to expanding the capacity of ASDF to undertake WASH projects, as we start to look beyond this pilot to a full program commitment in 2012. 

Great news! 

As far as this pilot project goes, the community are still in the process of digging the shallow well which should be completed soon, and there are also aspects of the terracing and tree planting that are still outstanding. We’ll update this page as soon as we can to keep everyone up to date. 

The Water Project : phast-training-at-kakai-shg-59-3

11/08/2011: Sand Dam Project November Update

Yesterday we received a further update from our partners African Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF). This is direct from them: 

“In this month of November, work has paused on the shallow well site as farmers concentrate on their farms to make maximum use of the continued rains that we are experiencing here. The dam is already filled with water and even the shallow well site might have to be relocated because it’s partially submerged. Attached are the current photos of the dam.

As you can see from the photos, due to the intense rains, there was slight erosion on one side of the dam caused by an overflow of water beyond the wing walls. It is not anything to worry about however as the same has happened elsewhere on our other dams where there’s more rain . The damage was minimal and the group is currently collecting some sand and stones for repair to strengthen the rock basement.

We have organized to have the sanitation training to be done next week but that is tentative because it will depend on when the facilitator gets time. When it is done, I’ll compile a report for the same and send it to (you) immediately.”

So it seems that the heavy rains for which we should all be thankful have resulted in some minor setbacks with this project. The fact that the location of the shallow well is being reconsidered bodes well for the future, in that they have received more rain than anticipated.

This collaboration is a great example of transparent relations between donor and implementing partner, and we are delighted to be able to pass on experiences direct from the field, even when things get complicated, to our own donor base.

We look forward to the next update from ASDF!   

The Water Project : dscf1676

10/18/2011: Sand dam stage complete!

We are delighted to update this project page with news that African Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF) and the target community have completed the construction of the sand dam, the first stage of this exciting pilot project.

What follows is direct from our partner:

“The good news is that the Sand dam is now complete! Attached are the photos of the dam, the members and the plaque to illustrate that. The shallow well has been sited and the members agreed to start excavation on Monday the 24th. However, at some point, work will be shelved to allow farmers to concentrate on cultivation and then resume there after.

Finally,  we have also distributed seeds to the members yesterday and we include  some short stories of what they had to say after the distribution:” 

Robert Muthusi – age 59: “ I am happy that I have seeds courtesy of The Water Project. I had none. I’ll now plant and work hard so that I harvest enough for my family. It would have been hard for me because had I not been given these seeds, I’d not have planted some varieties like pearl millet, sorghum and finger millet. I would also have bought fewer quantities of the other varieties like 0.25kg each which would not have been enough. I thank African Sand dam Foundation for the timely distribution: I’ll now not have any excuse not to plant. I hope the rains will be sufficient.” 




Eunice Kinyili – age 30: ” I am more than happy for these seeds. I’d have bought the seeds at exorbitant prices yet the quality of the ones at the market is not guaranteed. We are grateful to the donor for these. We’ll now work hard to plant and cultivate so that we become seed secure in the future”





Each community member who is supported with seeds throughout this pilot will contribute double back to the seed bank, ensuring that  this community will have adequate seed from this point forward.   

We at TWP are delighted that this project is going so well, and look forward to the next update regarding th eprogress on the shallow well! 

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10/12/2011: Kakai Self Help Group Dam construction under way!

We’re delighted to be able to post an update from African Sand Dam Foundation, as the work on this pilot project really gets under way. The below text has been edited for clarity, but is direct from our partners in Kenya: 

Dam Construction

Siting of the dam was done on the 15th of August 2011 and actual construction work started on the 17th of September 2011. According to the planned activities, the community was supposed to finish the sand dam before the onset of the short rains that are expected to start anytime now. However, it will take a little more time than envisaged for finishing the sand dam. This is because the group had run short of the local materials i.e. Ballast & sand and occasionally work had to stall work so as to replenish the stock of materials. It is vital in this project that the community contribute and are fully engaged in the construction of the dam, but this can sometimes lead to delays. 

So, far more than 95% of the total sand dam construction work has been accomplished, and we expect to be done with the sand dam in the next one and a half weeks. 

Shallow well

The siting of the shallow well has been put on hold because the dam coordinators from the government advised us to first allow the sand dam to collect water so as to be able to get a good site for the shallow well, as well as allow for a sufficient water column to be realised for ease of pump installation and subsequent testing. The sand dam will collect enough water and develop an appropriate catchment area that will be ideal for the shallow well.

Other Activities

Trainings – The priority was to build the sand dam. The group will undergo a series of trainings on governance, group dynamics & sanitation in the near future, and we will send updates on that in the coming weeks.

Seeds – The group will be issued with seeds for planting on their farms. A total of 40 members will benefit from the seeds. The seed varieties to be distributed are pearl millet, Sorghum, Dolichos lablab, Pigeon peas, Green grams, Finger millet and cowpeas. Each of the 40 members will get 2kgs of each variety totalling to 560Kgs which will be planted on the farmer’s farms and after harvest the farmers will be required to return twice the amount received to the communal seed bank. The group will run the seed bank and this is intended to create seed security for the community. The seeds are certified and were bought from the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute.

Tree Nursery – The group has also established its tree nursery bed. They have planted trees that are in the process of germinating and they will transplant the tree seedlings into poly tubes once they have acquired the required height. After a month the trees will be planted in their farms.

This is all great news for us at TWP, and we are confident that this is the beginning of a fantastic partnership that will develop into the future.

Please expect more updates from the field as soon as we get them. 

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Project Photos

Project Type

Sand Dam

Seasonal streams (and the sand they carry) are trapped by dams, replenishing the water table and allowing for adjacent hand-dug wells. Almost completely led by community-supplied sweat and materials, and under the supervision of engineers, dams are strategically placed within those dry river-beds. The next time it rains, flood-waters are trapped.

With a sand dam, this trapped sand begins to hold millions of gallons of rainwater. Soon enough, sand reaches the top of the dam, allowing water to continue downstream – where it meets the next dam. The result? A regional water table is restored.


1 individual donors