Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Program: Sand Dams in Kenya

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2014

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/13/2024

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 project information direct from our partner:


The group was formed in the year 2007 by amalgamation of two villages that is Kyalimba and Kandulyu. It has membership of 51 of which 20 are men  and 31 are women. The group is located in Miau sub-location, Kako location, Kako division, Mbooni East in Makueni County.

Makueni County is one of the 8 counties in Eastern Kenya and one among the 3 that comprise Ukambani region. The county borders Kajiado County to the west, Taita Taveta to the south, Kitui to the east and Machakos to the north.

The county covers an area of 8,008.75km2 out of which 474.1km2 form the Tsavo West National Park and 724.3km2 forming Chyullu Game Reserve. It has population of 884527 and 186,478 households Census 2009.

The district is characterized by extreme rainfall variability. Typically, good seasons are interspersed with extremely dry seasons and variations in the onset of rainy seasons add to the difficulty of ensuring adequate food production. The district has two rainy seasons which peak in March/April (long rains) and November/December (short rains).

Challenges that led to formation of the group

Water insecurity

The main water sources in the area are River Kyalimba, River Kyengau and Kyandulyu Earth dam. Their distances are 1km, 2km and 3km respectively. During the dry season the community get water from River Kyalimba and Kandulyu Earth dam.

River Kyalimba only holds water during the rainy season. In order to access water from River Kyengau one has to dig deep scoop holes of at least 6ft deep. Also the water point turns saline during the dry period. During the dry period water at the earth dam is rationed and sold at KES 2 thus making most of the community opt to fetch water from River Kyengau. One spends more than 4 hours due to long queues. Children assist their parents after school, which does not allow for them to finish home work or have adequate study time. This also limits the time they have to play.

Due to lack of water in the area:

  •  Tree programs has also been affected. The lack of water has led to drying up of the trees that the farmers plant.
  • Wasting a lot of time fetching water. This means the community members do not engage in casual labour which is their alternative source of income after the rain fail.
  • Due to lack of water the community members have reduced their herds of cattle which are there economic assets thus increasing their poverty levels.
  • Poor farming methods. Due to spending much time in fetching, they do not have enough time for farm preparations before onset of rains.


The main types of crops that the community grows are:

  • Maize, Pigeon peas & sorghum
  • Cowpeas& Green grams

Unreliable rainfalls have been a major setback to rain fed agriculture, which is farmers’ source of livelihood. Food insecurity in the area also is attributed to other reasons, which include:

  • Poor fertile soils. Long use of their farms without applying manure and soil erosion has decreased the soil fertility. This has led to poor harvest among the farmers.
  • Communities continue to practice archaic planting methods that have led to decreased harvest. For example reliance of maize which needs more rainfall and in the recent years the rainfall has been unreliable making them to harvest less or not
  • Lack of tools. Most community members cannot afford tools for terracing due to poverty thus not digging standard terraces in their farms. Terracing is one technique of conserving soil in farms and hence improving the harvest.
  • Pre harvest and post harvest losses. Pests and diseases destroy the crops before harvest and the community members lack the skill on how to control them and also the chemicals are expensive for them as they need to spray more than 3 times.


Community plant the following tree varieties:

  • mango
  • paw paws
  • oranges
  • shade trees

Water problem in the area has led to low tree survival rate as most trees dry up due to lack of enough water. Termite infestation poses a big challenge to tree planting. The community lacks the ability to control the termites from destroying their trees. Also they lack the termite treatments, which are expensive.

Lack of knowledge and skills on tree management by farmers make them not to establish good nurseries and even caring of the trees. This has reduced the survival rate of trees.


The group seeks to do the following:

  • Sand dams. Through construction of sand dams the community will help them to access to clean water. Also they will establish tree nurseries, grow vegetables for sale, which will improve their income.
  • Goat project. The group will start a dairy goat project will be used to improve the local breeds and also generate income for the farmers.
  • Soil conservation. With the support of tools the community will embark on terracing on their farms, which will help to retain water in their farms thus improving harvest with minimal rainfall.
  • Poultry keeping. The group want to rear the local chicken breeds for sale which act as income generating activity.


The first sand dam worked wonders. This was supported by The Water Project. The old members of the group admit that they have never seen cabbages been grown in the area. From this learning experience the group is thirsty for more.

“We intend to build more sand dams along the river channel. The sand dams will provide water for farming thus feeding the community at large.”

With more water the community also hopes to set up tree nurseries that will be used to plant fruit trees.

“The new county governor has promised to set up a new fruit processing farm within the area. We have identified that a new factory will require adequate raw materials i.e. fruits which many have not grown. This is because of lack of sustainable source of water and extension support, which will provide us with skills and knowledge on how to plant the trees.

We therefore require more adequate water to enable farming and planting of fruit trees for future economic development and gains.” MUTUKU KIOKO chairman for Kyalimba SHG.

With the conjoined efforts of Africa Sand Dam Foundation and The Water Project, a second well, will be constructed thus allowing for continued development in the immediate surrounding areas, it will contribute to farming activities and potential manufacturing jobs at the fruit plant as well as allow for continued sustainability and improvement in hygiene and sanitation practices amongst group and community members.

[Editor's Note:  GPS coordinates for this project have not yet been obtained.]

Project Updates

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Kyalimba Community

Our teams are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us in our fight against the virus while maintaining access to clean, reliable water.

We are carrying out awareness and prevention trainings on the virus in every community we serve. Very often, our teams are the first (and only) to bring news and information of the virus to rural communities like Kyalimba, Kenya.

We trained community members on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19.

Due to public gathering concerns, we worked with trusted community leaders to gather a select group of community members who would then relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

We covered essential hygiene lessons:

- Demonstrations on how to build a simple handwashing station

- Proper handwashing technique

- The importance of using soap and clean water for handwashing

- Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces including at the water point.

We covered COVID-19-specific guidance in line with national and international standards:

- Information on the symptoms and transmission routes of COVID-19

- What social distancing is and how to practice it

- How to cough into an elbow

- Alternative ways to greet people without handshakes, fist bumps, etc.

- How to make and properly wear a facemask.

During training, we installed a new handwashing station with soap near the community’s water point,

Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we also dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the disease and provide extra information where needed.

We continue to stay in touch with this community as the pandemic progresses. We want to ensure their water point remains functional and their community stays informed about the virus.

Water access, sanitation, and hygiene are at the crux of disease prevention. You can directly support our work on the frontlines of COVID-19 prevention in all of the communities we serve while maintaining their access to safe, clean, and reliable water.

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!

Reversing the effects of climate change through sand dams: A case story of Kyalimba SHG

June, 2014

“It’s a miracle to see cabbage grow here” 

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Kyalimba Community 2A.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kyalimba Community 2A maintain access to safe, reliable water. Together, they keep The Water Promise.

We’re confident you'll love joining this world-changing group committed to sustainability!

Makueni County is one of the forty seven counties in Kenya. It is classified as an arid and semiarid area since it receives less than 750 mm annually rainfall. The vast majority of the population is subsistence farmers depending on farming as their main source of income. In recent times these farmers are under the threat of climate change which has affected their life dramatically. More and more farmers have been pushed to depend on food relief from the good well wishers.

I don’t need to have gone to school to know that the climate has changed. The last time I harvested anything from my farm was three years ago” narrates Paulina Kaviti.
Her old wrinkled face tells us all. The situation is more desperate than what is visible to us.

My small 2 acre farm was giving enough profit to be able to take my six children to school and that was all from the harvested products, but today I even struggle to put a meal on the table for my grandchildren”.

The rivers have dried up and our men have gone to look for jobs in the urban areas. For us women who are left suffering and now working for our families it really has been a hard time with a lot of struggles. But not anymore!

At last a smile appears on the face of the old woman.

“I now am able to access clean water for domestic use. I used to spend 5 hours daily fetching water, but now I spend less than 1 hour. This has enabled us (the Self Help Group) to invest our time in horticultural farming”, Narrates Paulina

Behind the scene it’s all green. Crops of different varieties are growing,

“It’s a miracle to see cabbage grow here” explains the chairman of the group.
“Cabbages grow only in the highlands of Kenya and are sold to us at high prices, with the support from ASDF technical staff we are now able to grow cabbages and sell them to the community and local markets thus improving our livelihoods.

Though the climate has changed for the worse the sand dams and the training support by ASDF have enabled us to adapt and cope against the effects of climate change. We are no longer vulnerable; we have created opportunities through sand dams and assured much brighter future for all of us!”

Mutuku Kioko Chairman Kyalimba SHG.

Navigating through intense dry spells, performing preventative maintenance, conducting quality repairs when needed and continuing to assist community leaders to manage water points are all normal parts of keeping projects sustainable. The Water Promise community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kyalimba Community 2A maintain access to safe, reliable water.

We’d love for you to join this world-changing group committed to sustainability.

The most impactful way to continue your support of Kyalimba Community 2A – and hundreds of other places just like this – is by joining our community of monthly givers.

Your monthly giving will help provide clean water, every month... keeping The Water Promise.


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