Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Program: Sand Dams in Kenya

Impact: 300 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Dec 2012

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/24/2024

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 as well as agricultural activities including terracing, tree planting and the creation of a tree nursery and seed bank.

Below is unedited project information direct from our partner:


Nyeki Ndune horticultural self help group was formed in the year 2011. The main reasons for the formation of the group were:

  • Water insecurity - the villages in which the members of the group come from often experience severe water shortages. There’s therefore a scarcity of clean water for domestic, livestock and farming use.
  • Exchanging of ideas – Group members said they needed to exchange ideas such as good farming practises in order to improve  harvest.

The group is currently engaged in the following activities:

  • Subsistence farming
  • Livestock keeping
  • Sand dam construction
  • Tree planting
  • Terrace digging

Challenges to Development

  • Water insecurity 

Their main source of water currently is a pipeline with 3 water kiosks at Kiwanzani, Kalungu and Kalamba. The other main source is river Yanda Malisyo.  The average distance to these water points is 6 KM with farthest being 8 KM away. They buy water from these points at KES 2 per 20 litre Jerrican for drinking. Because of the distance one can manage 2 trips to fetch hence spending a lot time on one activity per day and therefore inhibiting people from engaging in other productive work.

Their livestock also take water from these points and as a result, they sometimes go without this precious commodity and as a result affecting their health. Also due to lack of water, hygiene standards are compromised.  Most of the community members boil drinking water.

These are the challenges they would like to tackle once they construct a sand dam though they are aware of the challenges ahead;

  • The most significant challenge will be working hard during drought.  Some of the members are likely to drop out of the group during the construction time, and the work might overwhelm the few old ones left.
  • Food insecurity

The group members are practising various farming practises such as intercropping and crop rotation. The farmers have dug terraces in their farms and they use manure to improve soil fertility. The crops which they grow in the area are: pearl millet, sorghum, maize, beans, green grams, cowpeas, dolichus, finger millet and pigeon peas.   Food insecurity can be attributed to lack of reliable rainfall to support crop production. The community members heavily rely on rain fed agriculture. Occasionally we have had severe crop failure that led to acute food shortage in the area.

The main source of income is agriculture hence livelihood patterns of many farmers are affected when rains fail. As a result school attendance sometimes drops because of lack of school fees when there are no harvests. The other contributing factor to poor harvests is always the type of seeds the farmers buy from the markets. Most seeds are not drought resistant and therefore can’t produce any yields with the erratic rainfall patterns. Most farmers do not practise good farming practices such as the use of manure and of terraces in their farms.

"By digging terraces on our farms, we will increase food security and conserve soil as terraced farms usually have improved harvests compared to the un terraced ones”  said Solomon Nthiani, one of the members.

  • Environmental conservation

The farmers already grow various species of trees such as acacia, Mellia volkensii, Neem, Mango and pawpaw.  The main challenge to tree growing just like other areas is termite infestation. Once water is available in the sand dam, it will enable people to grow trees because we need them for  timber, shade, medicine and others to act as wind breakers as well as earn  incomes from fruit trees.

To do this successfully, the community needs training on tree planting, dig standard holes, anti termite chemical support as well as manure to increase food crop.

  • Climate change

In the recent past, weather patterns have changed a lot. Climate change has led to a myriad of problems which include:

  • low amount of rainfall
  • hot weather conditions
  • Diseases and drought which has led to a number effects  being experienced by the farmers like; Sky rocketing food prices hence high cost of living. Peter Muia attests to this new phenomenon; “Since i was born I have never bought a kilogramme of maize for KES 45/-. Life has been quite hard because children need school fees and we also need money to buy food.”
  • Low income generation. Agriculture as the main economic activity of the area and which depends on rain. This led to farmers disposing their livestock to buy food and cater for basic needs.

"Our planned sand dam will enable us cope during the drought period because we will invest in small scale irrigated agriculture. We also plan to dig a shallow well at the sand dam site from where we can water our livestock, draw water for domestic use and for vegetable gardens hence distance and time spent will be reduced significantly compared to other drought periods" Peter Muia, Community member.

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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!


85 individual donors
Downstate AOA
Sarah R. Jansen
Carolyn D. Rudzinski-Romig Middle School Pacific Team
Troy Union Elementary
Grace Fellowship of Nashua, Inc.
HHS Environmental Club
Graduate Management Admission Council
Morbank Financial Inc.
jessie abt/water project
Frances E. Lucas
Duck Creek Community Church
Main Arm Upper Public School P&C
Robin M. DeGarmo
Settlement Lutheran Church
Elmhurst Fundraising
R. Todd Mangum
Judia Jackson Harris Elementary Charter School
Banio Deborah Donna Eva
Poway High School
The Leon Nevada Trust
York Academy Regional Charter School
Annette P. Ruiz
4th Point Band
Light of Jesus Community Canada
Stockbridge Community Church - Easter 2012
Romig Middle School
Google Matching Gifts Program
Springhouse Middle School
Seekers Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church
Riverside Presbyterian Day School
The Woodlands High School
NAF Chapel El Centro
Judith C. Zabala
Peace Lutheran Church