Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Program: Sand Dams in Kenya

Impact: 300 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2013

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 11/15/2023

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 September 2012. It has membership of 39 members 31 female and 9 male. The group is found in – sub-location of – location. The main reasons for forming the group were:

  • The area had severe water shortage. Lack of water had led the area lagging behind in terms of development.
  • The group wanted to improve the environment through soil conservation. By coming together they wanted to dig terraces that would conserve soil on their farms.

Economic activities

  • Farming
  • Livestock keeping
  • Poultry keeping

Challenges to development

Water shortage

The main challenge that the community in the area faces is water shortage. The main water sources in the area are in River Syatu, River londokwe and River Miseke. River Miseke. River Londokwe is 4 kilometres and it takes 4 hours to fetch water from River Londokwe .In River Syatu in order to access water one has to dig deep scoop holes of more than four feet deep and during the dry period the water is salty hence used for livestock only. During the wet season the water is available. In River Londokwe 20 litre jerrican is sold at kshs 2 because it belongs to a self help group.

Women and children bear the burden of fetching water. In dry seasons of the year that is from August to November before the onset of rains school children are forced to come with water to schools nd those that don’t comply with such a rule are punished.This forces most children to miss school especially during the dry season inorder to fetch the water or also to avoid being punished.This has led to poor results from the children and drop out cases have been reported amongst the girl child. In most cases water brought to schools is not clean hence making the children vulnerable to water borne diseases. Women spent a lot of time in fetching water thus no time to do other household chores.

Due to lack of water in the area:

  • More time spent in fetching water. Thus more efforts and resources are underutilised thus leaving community members languishing in poverty
  • Tree planting. The lack of water has led to drying up of the trees making survival rate very low.
  • Low incomes. Due to heavily relying on rain fed agriculture incomes continue to dwindle because of famine and drought and no alternatives for income generation,

Crop Production

The main types of crops that farmers grow include:

  • Maize
  • Cowpeas
  • Sorghum
  • Green grams

The climate has continued to change. Rains are no longer predictable as they used to. The area has not had rains for the last four years. This has caused high food shortage and strain on the available household resources. For coping most farmers have sold their livestock and other household assets in order to provide food whose average household size is 6 members. Apart from climate changes the other reasons for the reduced harvest in the area include

The main challenges to low harvests:

  • Lack of seeds. Frequent droughts have affected the ability of community to preserve seeds for their planting needs. Due to this the farmers have reduced the size of land under farming.
  • Pests and diseases. Increased pests and diseases have affected the farmers’ harvests. The farmers do not harvest as required due to post and pre harvest losses.
  • Poor farming methods and practices. Most of the farmers farming methods and practices cannot enable them to have sufficient harvest. For example they grow maize and have reduced crop varieties. Lack of knowledge on farming methods has lead to low harvests
  • Unreliable rainfall. Rainfall pattern have been a challenge because it is not predictable.

Environment conservation

Water shortages have inhibited planting of trees in the area. Apart from termite infestation also lack of knowledge have hampered tree planting. Other practices like clearing of trees to burn charcoal which is a subsidiary source of income have contributed heavily to destruction of vegetation cover.More areas formally under vegetation are being cleared to make room for farming land due to increasing population in the area. With all these uncontrolled practises coupled by the lack of knowledge, environmental degradation is at a higher rate.

Future plans

The community seeks to create water security through building of sand dams. The sand dam water will enable us to engage in horticultural farming, have water within our proximity and improve our income through selling of vegetables. Also we hope we shall have shallow wells across the river banks near the sand dams.

The community seeks to have knowledge and skills that will empower them to become climate resilience communities against climate change.

The community want to conserve the environment through terrace digging in their farms and planting trees. This will require them tools that will enable them to terrace their farms.

The community seeks to have seed bank where they can store there seed in order to curb this perennial problem of seeds in the area. They require seeds and tools that will enable them to terrace their terrace their farms and plant in their farms.

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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!

Water Brings All Good Things to Life

October, 2013

My childrens’ lives will change because they will not have water scarcity. Unlike me, they will be able to do home chores with ease because with water all chores are easier done. Water is everything

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Mbaa Ngoka Community 1A.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mbaa Ngoka Community 1A maintain access to safe, reliable water. Together, they keep The Water Promise.

We’re confident you'll love joining this world-changing group committed to sustainability!

“Unity is strength, division is weakness” goes a Swahili proverb and Mba Ngoka self Help group which is located in Thavu village, Thavu sub- location, Kathonzweni location, Kathonzweni district, Makueni County in Kenya lives by this proverb.  Brought together by a common challenge that was water scarcity they formed their self help group with an aim of joining hands and working together to improve their water security. With support from Africa Sand Dam Foundation in partnership with The Water Project, this self-help group has been able to construct one sand dam and a shallow well which have now become their main sources of water for both domestic use and for their livestock. They have been able to grow vegetables and make bricks which have greatly improved their income.

“Water brings all the good things in life” says thirty five (35) year old Esther Salimu. Esther is a mother of five, two aged 18 and above and three aged 17, 15 and 12. Her life and those of her children will never be the same again thanks to the sand dam and a shallow well which is less than 30 minutes walk from her home. She no longer has to wake up at midnight to go and fetch water in order to avoid long queues in the morning.

“...In the past we used to go to the river to collect water. At midnight, when everybody was asleep, we would carry our jerricans only to hide them in a nearby bush and carry one  jerrican back home. We would come back for the rest (of the jerrycans) in the morning using a donkey or a hand cart. That has changed after constructing our first sand dam; we no longer go to the river at night because water is readily available... our livestock drink from the sand dam and we have plenty of water for brick making, construction, domestic use, watering trees seedlings and vegetable farming. There are no queues anymore and fetching water has become an easy task... We can collect more than ten 20 litre jerricans of water from the shallow well. In the past during the dry season when water would be scarce, we could only fetch one jerrican for cooking and drinking thus lowering our personal hygiene. ”, said Esther. 

“...My childrens’ lives will change because they will not have water scarcity. Unlike me, they will be able to do home chores with ease because with water all chores are easier done. Water is everything; for instance you may have food but if you lack water you will not be able to cook It.”, added Esther.

Through noble initiatives such as sand dams and shallow wells, we will create water security for the rural communities in a cost effective way and a sustainable manner.


Navigating through intense dry spells, performing preventative maintenance, conducting quality repairs when needed and continuing to assist community leaders to manage water points are all normal parts of keeping projects sustainable. The Water Promise community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mbaa Ngoka Community 1A maintain access to safe, reliable water.

We’d love for you to join this world-changing group committed to sustainability.

The most impactful way to continue your support of Mbaa Ngoka Community 1A – and hundreds of other places just like this – is by joining our community of monthly givers.

Your monthly giving will help provide clean water, every month... keeping The Water Promise.

Rain Catchers & Oasis Makers

See how our implementing partners are transforming the landscape in Kenya.


35 individual donors
Scio Community Alliance Church
Smyth Elementary School Art Club (Chicago, IL)
Caminio Real Elementary School
Jada Brown/Big Chill Ice Cream Shop
Dawson, Easton, Shane
Duck Creek Community Church
Mukwonago Area School District
GateWay Early College High School
Girl Scout Troop #312
GSCNC Troop 6202
Good Shepherd United Methodist Church
Girl Scout Brownie Troop #336
Hyde Park Presbyterian Church
College of Saint Benedict
Algonquin Regional H.S. - Social Studies
Whitaker Elementary School
Gilpins Helping Hand, LLC.
Girl Scouts Heart of NJ Troop 20718
Tabernacle Baptist Church of Raleigh, Inc.
Girl Guides of Canada
Las Positas College - Christ on Campus
Oconee County High School
East Side Church of God
Heather Vogel-Social Work Club
First Baptist Church of Collingswood
Maple Elementary Student Council
Sequim School District No. 323
Britni Griffin
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, LA South Bay Alum. Chapter
College of St. Benedict - Spirituality and Social Justice
Archie R-V School-National Honor Society
Lara E. Weiss
Lietz Elementary School
TE Connectivity (Robert Mutfinger)
St. Elizabeth's Church
McCook Interact Club
Peckville Assembly of God
Commonwealth Club of the Riviera
New Hope Baptist Church
Allamakee CSD
Free the Children Transcona Collegiate

...and 1 other fundraising pages