Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Program: Sand Dams in Kenya

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Dec 2013

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/23/2024

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.

Below is unedited project information direct from our partner:

Background information

The group was formed in the year 2011. It has a membership of 32 women. The group is found in Muthingiini sub-location of Nzambani location. The reasons that lead to formation included soil conservation through terracing their farms and merry go round which would help them to uplift their living standards. Agriculture is the main form of livelihoods in the area and a majority of the community also depend on livestock keeping for income generation. This is because of the changes in climate that have resulted to poor yields from the farms. Farmers keep the livestock so as to be able to dispose them during the dry periods to get income.



The main water sources in the area are shallow well at Nzwii 1 and shallow well at Ilingoni. The shallow wells are situated less than 1 kilometre away from the community. The shallow wells are owned by the community members. During the dry season ones takes 2 hours to fetch water from the shallow well. The reason why they spend more hours is because the shallow wells have little water during the dry season and also the water sources are strained by a large population in the area. The members contribute kshs. 50 monthly to pay the person who takes care of shallow well.

Women and children bear the burden of fetching water. In the dry season there is rationing of water due low water levels of the shallow wells. The shallow wells are opened at 6.00a.m and closed at 9.00a.m thus they can recharge .During this period only one is allowed to fetch 4 jerricans of 20litres thus the water is not enough for domestic use. Also the water is saline from the saline. The other alternative source is Nzambani water pipeline which not reliable due to frequent break down and the nearest kiosk is more than 3 kilometres from the members.

Due to the lack of water in the area:

  • The tree planting has been affected. The lack of water has led to drying up of the trees that the farmers plant.
  • Their livestock experience water shortage problem during the dry season because they do not get enough water for drinking hence affecting their health.
  • The region has continued to experience low rainfall thus poor harvest making them to do casual jobs to survive


The main crops grown are:

  • Cowpeas
  • Dolichos
  • Green grams
  • Maize

Challenges to improved harvest:

  • Poor rainfall. For over the last four years more so we have been experiencing low rainfall in the area hence having poor harvest. Last season they did not harvest anything.
  • Poor farming practices. Most of the farmers do not use manure on there because they have few livestock to produce the manure or do not have the money to purchase it. Also the terraces are of low standard because washed away by rain water hence degrading soil quality in our farms.
  • Poor seeds quality. For example  the seeds which we bought from the market were not drought resistant hence they needed a lot of rainfall


The group seeks to start a tree planting program. However the termite infestation and water problem has been a challenge in the area. Also they lack knowledge and skills on tree planting.


The community seeks to create water security through building of sand dams. With sand dams they will alternative source of income because they rely on rain fed agriculture.

They want to be supported with farm tools which they will use for terracing which will in turn improve their harvest.

Also they seek to increase their knowledge on farming practices which has been one of the challenges to improved harvest.

We're just getting started, check back soon!

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!


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