Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Program: Sand Dams in Kenya

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2014

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:


The name is a combination from two villages that are called Ndivuni and Nzwii.

The group has 64 members 29 Male and 35 Females. The committee has 9 members 5 males and Females.

Formation of the group

The group was formed in year 2006 with the following goals:

  • Soil conservation
  • Planting of vegetables
  • Goat keeping
  • Construction of sand dam

Challenges /problems

Water situation

The communities depend on a stream, which is 5 km away and takes 5 hours and sometimes longer when they find long queues especially during the months of September and October.

When water dries up they are forced to scoop 8ft down which is dangerous as sometimes as walls can collapse while one is fetching water in a well that deep and unlined.

Water borne diseases have been witnessed in the area. Sometimes the resident are forced to go without food as there is no water for cooking.

Children fail to attend schools due to being involved in water collection.

Time wasted in search for water disrupt other activities, such as studying or income generating activities.  Some group members feel the need to run away from groups due to lack of time to work communally, because they spend so much time looking for water.

Food situation

Food has been a problem to this area due to the fact that the rains have been inconsistent for the past 5 years.  Last year especially there was not enough rainfall. This led to low harvest as farmers planted unviable seeds. As result of food insecurity pupils have been forced to drop out of school to go search for employment to get money for buying food for family members.

Malnutrition has been a problem leading to Kwashiorkor, (sever protein energy malnutrition) Marasmus,  (a form of severe malnutrition characterized by energy insufficiency) and anaemia which can sometimes leads to death.

Mostly residence depends on farming to get food. There has been an uptake in reported robberies in the community due to people lacking money for the food.


Income is big challenge to this community. There is a huge dependency on charcoal burning for income, which has led to high deforestation. They are also depending on casual labour from the neighbour farms.


  • Assisting each other to construct terraces.
  • Worked together with Nzwii SHG to construct sand dam.
  • Goat keeping. Initially the group started with 20 goats but due to lack of rain in the past year, 15 of them died. Only 5 remain.
  • They have merry go round (internal savings within the group) for buying utensils.
  • Assisting each other in house construction and medical bills.
  • The group has been planting trees even though they tend to dry up due to lack of water. This year they had tree nursery, which ended up dying.

Future plans

  1. Soil conservation through tree planting and terracing.
  2. Keeping dairy goats and cattle’s.
  3. Improving water security through bore hole, sand dam construction, earth dams, pipeline and construction of domestic water tanks.
  4. Growing vegetables and start fish farming.
  5. Improving farming through looking for drought resistant and viable seed and being trained on how to grow them.
  6. Growing trees when they get water and planting crops as group.


Status: Complete

The sand dam is situated in Nzwii village, Mtito Andei Division in Kibwezi District of Makueni County.

The community started collecting the local materials in April 2013 towards the preparation of the construction of their sand dam in July 2013. During this period they also put together all the required legal agreements to enable the successful implementation of the project.

As per the community’s plan the actual construction of the sand dam started on July 1st, 2013. It took the community two weeks to build their dam to completion since they had already assembled the required local materials. The dam was completed on July 13, 2013.

The only challenge faced by this community was the collection of water for the construction of their dam since we were already in the dry season.

The dam harvested and stored water from the October – November rains enabling the community to achieve their objective of increasing water access and availability.

Due to challenge in the geology, a shallow well could not be built at this site. The funds expected to construct a shallow well at Ndinswii were therefore used to build a well at another project site. To see the report, click here.

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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!


Project Sponsor - Palmer Family