Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Program: Sand Dams in Kenya

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase: 
Under Community Care
Initial Installation: Nov 2013

Project Features

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Community Profile

This project is being implemented by our partner African Sand Dam Foundation, and includes the construction of a sand dam.

Below is unedited project information direct from our partner:

Background information

The group was formed in the year 23/07/2012. It has a membership of 32 members 19 women and 13 men.  The main reasons for forming the group were:

  • The area had severe water shortage. Through coming together the group wished to have sand dams along their main river channel.
  • They wanted to conserve their environment through soil conservation. By coming together the group wanted to dig terraces that would conserve soil on their farms and dig holes to plant trees.
  • Their income is low and they wanted to find ways they would improve their incomes hence improving their living standards.

Economic activities

  • Farming
  • Livestock keeping

Challenges that are faced in the area

Water insecurity

The main challenge in the area is water shortage. The main sources of water are river Londokwe , River Miseke and River Syatu. Women take 4 hours per day to fetch water. River Syatu has only water during the rainy seasons. Also along River Syatu members of the community joined hands to dig unprotected shallow wells. But in the dry period the water in shallow well is very salty and very little this is because the river does not have enough sand hold water due to erosion. So it makes them to fetch water from river Londokwe which is 4-5 kilometres away from the community members. The water from Londokwe is sold at kshs 2 which is not affordable to everyone due to the poverty level of the area which stand at 63% percent. The main competition on expenditure is on food and provision of food. Therefore buying water is a real challenge to most households. Water source at River Londokwe is shallow along the river channel. The shallow well is strained by large population thus long queues during the dry period. The limited water source is in competition for the other uses like water for domestic use, water for the livestock among other uses.

Due to lack of water availability in the area the community experience other challenges:

  •  Poor farming methods. Much time is used in fetching water especially during the dry period. This necessitates them to neglect their farms due to the tiredness they experience during fetching water.
  • Women have continued to lag behind in development matters since the burden of fetching water remains on them. Most women spent time in fetching water for use in their homes. Due to the distance and time required for this activity most women have no time to take part in other basic activities
  • Tree planting has been a challenge to the community members due to lack of water hence trees planted have continued to dry up.
  • Lack of income generating activities such as brick making and vegetable growing have been a challenge due to lack of water.

Crop Production

The main types of crops grown by the community are:

  • Maize
  • pigeon peas
  • Cowpeas
  • green grams
  • Sorghum

The area depends on rain fed agriculture .In the last 3 years the area has not received rains and this has led to intense famine and severe food insecurity. Other reasons that have led to food insecurity include:

  • Increased drought and famine. During the drought period most of the incomes are reduced. This necessitates farmers not to have enough seeds to plant in their farms and they get seeds from uncertified dealers and the seeds do not do well in the area.
  • Poor farming practices. The community have continued to practise traditional planting methods that have led to decreased harvest. Also they lack knowledge on farming methods that can be practised in the area.
  • Soil infertility. The area has infertile soils due not using manure in their farms and soil erosion hence crops do not have good harvest.
  • Lack of farm tools. The group is currently digging terraces in the area so as to conserve soil in their farms. Due to poverty most of them cannot afford tools that dig well terraces.
  • Pre harvest and post harvest losses. The crops are destroyed by pests before the harvest. This is because they do not have money to buy the pesticides and they lack knowledge on controlling and preventing pests. After harvesting crops they lack preservation skills and preservatives thus there harvest destroyed by weevils.

Environmental conservation

Due to lack of sufficient water in the area has led farmers not being able to grow trees had they wished to plant. Lack of knowledge has limited the group to plant trees in the area. Also termite infestation has been a challenge to tree planting. The lack of trees has led to lack of firewood, lack of fodder for livestock and increased environmental degradation.

The community members are hopeful through sand dams they will be able to create water security in the area.

With water availability of water the community plans:

  • The farmers will also increase the number of trees that they plant. Water availability will enable them to plant different species of trees.
  • Increase their income levels. Through planting of vegetables the community will be able to sell the vegetables.
  • Increased school attendance. The group hopes to construct school water tanks which will increase the school attendance rates and improve their health and sanitation standards within schools.

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Project Photos

Project Type

Sand dams are huge, impressive structures built into the riverbeds of seasonal rivers (rivers that disappear every year during dry seasons). Instead of holding back a reservoir of water like a traditional dam would, sand dams accumulate a reservoir of silt and sand. Once the rain comes, the sand will capture 1-3% of the river’s flow, allowing most of the water to pass over. Then, we construct shallow wells on the riverbank to provide water even when the river has dried up, thanks to new groundwater reserves. Learn more here!