Maiuni Community

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Sand Dams in Kenya

Latitude -1.54
Longitude 37.45

300 Served

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Stories and 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:


Maiuni SHG is in Kithuiya village, Kiambwa sub location, Kiteta location, in Kiteta division and has a population of 5,915. The group was formed in the 2011 by a total of 46 members with 33 members being female while 13 were males. The primary reason why the group was formed was to increase water security for the area residents. Other reasons were; soil conservation through terrace digging, starting horticultural projects i.e. planting of vegetables and fruit trees and merry-go rounds to help members have income that could help in paying school fees and meeting other basic needs at the family level.

The main challenges faced by the community in the area:


Water insecurity is the main challenge that led to the formation of the group. The main source of water in the area is River Ngwani which is 2 kilometres away. The main method of water abstraction is through scoop holes. The river is seasonal and it dries up especially in August and October. During this period the community members are often forced to dig deep scoop holes (an average depth of 5 feet). They then queue for more than 4 hours per day only to end up with poor quality water which in most cases leads to water borne diseases being rampant in the area. The situation gets worse during weekends as heavy traffic of humans and livestock queue at the same water points. The hilly topography of the area makes water fetching a pretty tiresome task.

“In a day I have to fetch two (20 litre) jerricans because carrying the water uphill leaves me tired and unable to do any other task. The long queues lead to more time being wasted at water collection points. This leaves other chores unattended e.g. washing clothes”

Due to scarcity of water one activity i.e. tree planting has been halted. The group used to grow fruit trees which they depended on as a source of income. But due to climate change the trees have been drying up leading to reduced households’ income. Water insecurity is also a cause for poor economic standards in the community. This is attributed indirectly to more time being spent in fetching water rather than engaging in other economic tasks. During very dry seasons which lead to water shortage, many livestock lose their lives. Farmers have livestock as assets that they can dispose off to earn a living thus loss of livestock leads to loss of income for the farmers.


The main economic activity in the area is farming; however the farmer’s harvests have declined in the past. The average time a farmer can store farm yields is less than two months meaning that for a period of more than ten months the farmers have to depend on relief food from the government which is not reliable and due to inflation the cost of food stuff is skyrocketed hence buying food from the market is unaffordable, thus leaving farmers vulnerable.

The main reasons that lead to poor harvest are:-

  • Poor seed quality

The farmers lack access to quality seeds that are able to withstand the harsh climate in the area. Most of the farmers spend more time fetching for seeds during the rainy season only to practise late planting, by the time they plant the rains have reduced leading to the crops drying up.

  • Poor farming methods

Inadequate knowledge on modern methods of farming is also a constrain for good harvest since most farmers still practise old methods of farming which include large scale farming of maize which is not adaptive to the arid and semi arid lands and late planting among others.

  • Soil erosion

The topography of the area is hilly and farmers do not practise farm terracing hence increased soil erosion. Due to low income, the farmers are unable to use farm inputs like fertilisers and this has affected the fertility of their farms which later affects their farm yields.

  • Population Increase

Population increase is also a constraint to improved harvest. Since most farmers depend on selling of fruits as their main source of income, trees and bushes have been cleared to pave way for new settlers and farming activities thus leading to shortage of fire wood which is the main source of fuel for the community; It takes an average of two hours (2) per day to fetch for firewood which can only prepare two meals. Half of the group members buy firewood at Kshs 150 per bunch. This has increased the income burden of the group whose poverty index stands at 84%.

To address these challenges the group will focus on the following areas for the five year period that it will be working with ASDF

  • Creating water security through the construction of the sand dams.
  • Horticulture farming- Irrigating of the lands / farms close to the sand dams to grow food for local consumption and sell surplus to generate income for the group.
  • Specialize on tree planting-commercial fruit tree planting for income generation through the sale of the fruits.
  • Revive agricultural productivity of the area through practising modern sustainable agriculture.

Project Photos

Recent Project Updates

07/11/2013: New Pictures From Maiuni

Our field staff, Crissie Ferrara and Jack Owen, were on-site to view the work that has been on-going this year with our partner, ASDF.  The work in this region is not easy, but it brings about great results.  “Hot sun work is hard to develop this area. Empty valleys have been filled with sand, and now you can see green around the sand dam,” our hosts tell us.  And Crissie and Jack can attest to the heat.  But it doesn’t dampen our spirits as we meet the families who are growing more crops, and accessing clean water daily as a result of these sand dams.

Burdens are lifting; and hope, along with new crops, is growing. 

Enjoy the pics!

The Water Project : olympus-digital-camera-89

04/03/2013: The Fruit Of Good Work

There is something very satisfying about seeing the fruit that results from hard work.  At the Maiuni Sand Dam in Kenya, they are literally seeing just that.  Take a look at the latest pictures of the water that has collected behind the dam and the crops that have been the result.  Real, tangible, nutritious fruit that is the result of good labor.  Thanks for your help!

The Water Project : kenya4026_vegetable-farm_january-2013-2

11/16/2012: Maiuni shallow well update

Progress on the shallow well for this project has encountered a serious issue. The rock formation has proved too hard to work through, and as such it has not been possible for Maiuni Community to complete. 

African Sand Dam Foundation and The Water Project have discussed at length our options, and have decided to reallocate resources to a secondary site. 

For Maiuni, ASDF are committed to ensuring that they are able to access clean and safe water from the sand dam, and are committed to ensuring water quality at the site.  

Please follow this link to the project page for this shallow well, where you can find all project information:

The Water Project : athiani-farmers-shg_shallow-well_november-2012-3-2

11/16/2012: Sand Dam complete at Maiuni!

ASDF and the community at Maiuni have completed the construction of the sand dam. This is excellent news! 

The Water Project : maiuni-sand-dam-shg_sand-dam12024dlp_-september-2012-5-2

10/04/2012: Construction Underway at Maiuni

We are excited to report that construction is underway and making progress at Maiuni in Kithuiya village.  The project will provide safe, clean water for the people of the village and the surrounding area.  See the project page for more information, including pictures and GPS coordinates.

The Water Project : maiuni-4026-2

Monitoring Data

Project Type:  Sand Dam
Location:  Central Kenya
ProjectID: 4026
Install Date:  11/30/2012

Monitoring Data
Water Point:
Last Visit: 12/20/2017

Visit History:
10/14/2015 — Functional
02/01/2016 — Functional
04/12/2016 — Functional
07/14/2016 — Functional
12/15/2016 — Functional
05/22/2017 — Functional
09/06/2017 — Functional
12/20/2017 — Functional

Sand Dams Never Lie

December, 2013

We don’t buy vegetables such as kale from the market anymore, because we can now grow it ourselves, thus putting the money to other use.

With the support from The Water Project (TWP) through ASDF, Maiuni Self Help Group in Kivaani Village, Makueni County, have built one sand dam along river Ngwani.


The group has reaped many of benefits from the sand dam, which they constructed last year and is now full of water. Water from the sand dam is being used to establish tree nurseries and group members sub-divide the tree seedlings to plant in their farms. They have grown some vegetables near the sand dam and they are planning to expand the farm in future for large scale farming in order to supply vegetables to the local markets. Their livestock health has improved since they have enough water all year round.



Hellen Munini a mother of six and also a member of the group spoke with ASDF and told the field staff, “We don’t buy vegetables such as kale from the market anymore, because we can now grow it ourselves, thus putting the money to other use. Other positive impacts of having the sand dam and the availability of water, is our personal hygiene.  We can now bathe daily and wash our clothes frequently, as we are not worrying about running out of water to drink or for our farms. Water collection time has reduced significantly.  It only takes use 30 minutes to get water from the sand dam and we have plenty time to dig terraces and till our farms.”


Peter Kititu who is a farmer and lives near the sand dam has been utilizing sand dam water to grow vegetables. Recently ASDF staff took the time to sit down with Peter to ask him how the sand dam has helped him in his life. In an interview Peter stated, “I have gained knowledge on improved planting practices since participating in the self help group and having access to the water from the sand dam. I have so far planted 130 trees, dug adequate sized terraces on my farm and planted banana trees in them. I have also started horticultural farming by growing French beans on my two acre piece of land and I am optimistic that selling these beans will improve my income. I hope to earn more than kshs 70,000 from the beans.” (approximately USD 821.00)



The effects of sand dams on the lives of Kenyans indeed, does not lie.  The positive ramifications of such dams and subsequent access to clean water means improved health and hygiene, improved farming techniques which lead to better nutrition and supplemental income which can provide an economical safety net to many farmers and their families in Kenya, that would ordinarily not have such a luxury. That is no lie.


73 individual donors
Coppell RSC
Paige H. 16th
Pershing Global Studies 4th Quarter
Wolters Kluwer Health
Fabrangen Cheder
The Well Conference
Rawson-Saunders School
Juniata College
Montclare Children's School
Whitewood School - TRY
Oconomowoc H.S. Players

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Country Details


Population: 39.8 Million
Lacking clean water: 43%
Below poverty line: 50%

Partner Profile

Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF) supports self-help groups to harvest and conserve water through construction of sand dams & shallow wells, rock catchments and school roof catchments.