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The Water Project: Kee Community -
The Water Project: Kee Community -
The Water Project: Kee Community -
The Water Project: Kee Community -
The Water Project: Kee Community -
The Water Project: Kee Community -
The Water Project: Kee Community -

Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Program: Sand Dams in Kenya

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  Installed - Dec 2013

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/23/2019

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 project information direct from our partner:

Kee Self Help Group was formed as a welfare group in order to support in burial arrangements for community members. The group is found in one of the most fertile areas of Ukambani. The area is known for export business where farmers export fresh produce to international markets. However due to climate change there have been many noted differences in the surrounding landscape.

“We no longer harvest anything from our farms. The rains have reduced and the once permanent streams that we used to rely on for irrigation have all dried up. This has affected income levels and food security in the area. As a welfare group we have expanded the mandate of the group to build sand dams in order to harvest water for farming. After we have built sand dams in the village everyone will go back to farming for export business.” Paul Muthama


The dam started on the September 15th 2013.The first process was to excavate the foundation and this took two days. The actual building of the dam took 5 days and the dam was completed on the September 25th 2013.The group was able to build the dam quite fast due to its large membership of 93 members. This is a record time compared to other self help group as no other group has this many members.

Every Self Help Group received seed support in readiness for the planting season, which started in October. The seeds beneficiaries for Kee SHG were 45 males and 47 females. Farmers in these groups received five seed varieties to boost food security during this planting season. The varieties include green grams, cowpeas, pigeon peas, dolichos lab, sorghum, pearl millet and finger millet. All these are drought tolerant crops that mature fast and are able to withstand prolonged drought. After the harvest the groups shall return twice what each member received to a communal store where post harvest treatment shall be done. Terrace digging is still a work in progress for the Kee Self Help Group.

All the TWP supported self help groups have tree nurseries already established. The number of the tree seedlings in the tree nurseries include: All the tree seedlings in the tree nursery will be planted at the start on the rains i.e. October/November. The trees are of different species. Fruit trees, firewood trees and timber trees.

All TWP groups have been able to surpass annual targets for the tree seedlings due to good planning and preparation of the tree nurseries. All groups had their tree nurseries planted early or on time to enable them to have trees before the start of the rain season.

Project Updates

11/21/2013: Kee Self Help Group Construction Complete

We are excited to report that the construction of new sand dam and shallow well for the Kee Self Help Group in Kenya is finished.  We just posted a report from our partner in the field including information about the community, GPS coordinates and pictures of the project.  But this is not where our partner’s involvement with the community will end.  We hope to receive pictures in the future of the results of this work, including terraced farms and harvests of nutritious vegetables.  We’ll keep you posted.  Take a look, and Thank You for your help!

The Water Project : kenya4036-kee-10

Project Photos

Project Type

Sand Dam

Seasonal streams (and the sand they carry) are trapped by dams, replenishing the water table and allowing for adjacent hand-dug wells. Almost completely led by community-supplied sweat and materials, and under the supervision of engineers, dams are strategically placed within those dry river-beds. The next time it rains, flood-waters are trapped.

With a sand dam, this trapped sand begins to hold millions of gallons of rainwater. Soon enough, sand reaches the top of the dam, allowing water to continue downstream – where it meets the next dam. The result? A regional water table is restored.


New Hope Middle School
Elmwood United Presbyterian Church
The Catholic Bishop of Chicago, A Corp. Sole
Lakeview Elementary School
Bristow High School
Carl Neale Rosebrock
Girl Scouts Brownie Troop #61976 - South San Franciso, CA
John Carroll Catholic High School
First Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
NAF Chapel El Centro
St. George's Church/Dragon Slayers Youth Group
Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy, Inc.
Calvert Catholic Schools
Lakeland Hills Elem Green Club
Chesapeake Environmental Management, Inc.
Congregation Beth Israel
Colorado Girl Scout Troop 61684
Emerson Park Christian Church/Christian Women's Fellowship
15 individual donor(s)

Income from Mud

August, 2014

Access to clean water can also provide access to a new livelihood.

We have just traveled 125 Km on a long rough dusty road, from the ASDF office in Mtito Andei to an area called Tawa. We are here to visit the 2nd  Sand Dam within the Kee Self Help Group, designed and constructed by ASDF and funded by The Water Project in 2013. 

When we arrive at Kee #2 Sand Dam we see a woman fetching water from a scoop hole and slowly filling up 5 jerri cans that are precariously loaded on a donkeys back.  Adjacent to her is a young man working at the bank of the sand dam. The bank of the sand dam is muddy and that’s a good thing, because this young man is using that mud to make money.  

Caleb forming bricksCaleb is the young man’s name and he states, “I am 25 years old and I am doing what I know best.  I dropped out of school and started casual laboring in this village. Water has been a problem but since this dam was constructed, we have had a reprieve.”

With the water table higher than it has ever been during this dry season, due to the sand dam, Caleb explains that with assistance from a friend he can make 400 bricks per day between the hours of 8 am and 2pm. He is able to make the bricks out of the mud.

Brick making is mostly done in the hot hours of the day under the scorching sun. Their sweat-soaked clothes cling to their bodies as they toil away in the mud this warm morning. They get water from a scoop hole next to the sand dam. This is poured on soil excavated from the ground with hoes and mixed till it is almost viscous. It is tedious and very physically demanding work as a lot of water is needed and constant relentless mixing of the soil and water. A simple wood frame box is used to form the shape of the bricks.

As Caleb fills the brick forms, with well mixed mud he explains,

scoop hole collecting“It is tough working in the mud but we earn some income from this. One brick sells at Ksh.15  (roughly 17 US cents) locally. But today, I am making bricks for my Dad who intends to construct a residential house in the nearby market center. He is not paying me for this work. He is a good man. He has supported me quite a lot in life, that is why we are here reciprocating our support to him.”

 Caleb has mud smeared all over his clothes and looks extremely tired. It is around 11.00am and a lot of work awaits him. No smile on his face but the figures he gives us seems very attractive. One can make up to Ksh.5000 (USD$60) in a week. They spend 2 – 4 days drying the bricks and another 2 days to prepare the kiln and burn them. One needs wooden logs to burn the bricks, which are rare to get as the community discourages cutting down trees.

“Brick-making was not possible before the dam was constructed here and we used to fetch water 6km away from here. It was difficult. Some of these challenges culminated to my dropping out of school”, Caleb concludes with a shy face.

The water problem in Tawa had been an accepted factor of life. But since ASDF began working under the biding of local self-help groups and committed itself to constructing sand dams in the area, the problem has been greatly reduced. And now, the communities are utilizing the access they have to a clean safe water supply not only for drinking and washing but for income generating activities such as brick making. 

That's Why We're Having a Thanksgiving Today

November, 2013

You see that? That’s why we are happy today. That’s why we are having a thanksgiving today, to thank you for having enabled us to have such a project.

It’s another dry day again. The fields are bare with every green standing plant folding its leaves to hide them from the scorching unforgiving African sun. From the temperature gauge in our old tired truck it is around 33 degrees Celsius (92 F).

This again has been another dry season for the residents of Tawa, which is located in the highlands of Machakos, in Mbooni East District and has a population of over 20,000 residents. The main economic activity of the area is farming. But with climate change the area is slowly losing its glory.

As we approach Kee village we meet a neatly dressed man and at first glance my perception is that this must be a teacher or even the lawyer of the village. However, I soon discover looks can be deceiving and to not judge a book by its cover. I will humbly learn this from the interview I conduct with him later.

We greet each other and since he is the age of my father, Kamba traditions are in order. I bend as I am strongly shaken by the firm handshake of our friend Paul Muthama. He is the chairman of Kee Self Help Group, which recently started working with Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF), supported by The Water Project.

All of a sudden the atmosphere changed.

There is sweet aroma of African delicacies flowing in the air. My mouth waters as I’ve not eaten anything since morning and it’s almost noon time. Women are abuzz with life. Some are dancing while others are busy clapping their hands. There are a lot of activities.

The chairman whispers to me that there is a party. A party to celebrate their new water projects, which are a sand dam and a shallow well, funded by The Water Project.

Paul explains to me, “I used to export French beans from my 2 hectares of land. From the proceeds I took my children to school. I used to irrigate the farm using water from a close by spring. That was my office, my source of income, but at the moment the spring has dried up and I am struggling to maintain my family. The whole community has suffered because of lack of water.”

From a distance I observe women queuing at the swallow well with one of them pumping water into her awaiting Jerry cans.

“You see that? That’s why we are happy today. That’s why we are having a thanksgiving today, to thank you for having enabled us to have such a project,” the chairman tells us as he points to the shallow well below us.

“We used to walk more than 1.5 kilometers to fetch safe water. The only existing water source is at the point where we have the shallow well. That shallow well was not covered and waste from dogs and livestock polluted the water making it unsafe for us to consume. We have since rehabilitated the source and protected it and it is has now become the main fresh water point for the entire village. Vendors from the local town which is 7 kilometers, are now getting water from this point to go and sell it to the residents of the town.” exclaims the smiling chairman.

“The spring is slowly coming back to life and we are sure once it rain in less than two weeks time we will have more water that we ever did. We plan to construct a big storage tank to store the water where we can supply to the local residents at a small fee thus reliving them from the strenuous water fetching exercise. I am planning to go back to farming. I have seen sand dams provide water to farmers for farming to our neighbors Kyeni Kya Thwake, (which is also funded by TWP) and enabling them to plant vegetables for sale and consumption. I will be able to provide for my family without struggling.”

As we part I ask Paul what is the most significant change as a result of being in a group supported by ASDF/TWP. He replies, “For me the most significant change is seeing men being involved in the affairs of development. The men are now supporting the women in fetching water while the women are busy preparing the farms. The women have being taught how to practice sustainable agriculture by ASDF staff while the men have also being motivated to take part in the construction and even fetching water. I tell you our neighbors who are not in the group are jealous of us”!

As we come to an end of our interview, Paul states, “Thanks to our partners, especially The Water Project, for such a project. I may not have met them or know them, but when you see them tell them that because of their support our lives will never be the same again.”

The visit was quite inspirational. Seeing women dance and make jokes expresses the unquantifiable benefits of joy and fulfillment that the projects have helped the communities realize. Of course at the end of the interview I get to be served my favorite dish of Chapati (fried bread) and some well-done stew. I also get to drink cool clean water from the shallow well.