Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Program: Sand Dams in Kenya

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2015

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/07/2024

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.

Background information

The group was formed in the year 2009. The group is located in Mavindinisub-location in Kathozweni district. The group has 22 members 8 men and 14 women The main challenges in the community are lack of potable water and soil erosion hence the members came together to find ways to alleviate this problems. The group had a merry go round, (internal savings and lending groups) which helped them in improving their socio- welfare affairs.

Economic activities

- Poultry keeping

- Farming

- Goat keeping

Challenges to development

Water insecurity

The main water sources in the area are River Kanyonga and River Thwake. River Kanyonga only has water during the rainy seasons. Mathangathi rock catchment is 5 kilometres away from the community and is strained by other large populations that surround it.  This leads to very long queues in the dry season. From the rock catchment they buy water for five shillings. The river has continued to erode away and this has made the time that the water is available in the river channel to reduce from 6 months to less than 2 months. The alternative source of water is River Thwake which is 9 kilometres away and River Athi which is 12 km away. Water from river Athi does not dry up and communities prefer it during the dry seasons because they don’t have to queue to get water.

Due to the lack of water in the area:

- More time is spent in fetching water. Women spent most of their time fetching water in the dry season due long distance travelled.

- During the dry period of the year most of the farmers experience severe loss of livestock animals. This is because the animals lack water for drinking thus even they may go some days without water.

- Tree planting. The lack of water has led to drying up of trees that the farmers plant.

- Poor farming methods. Much of the time is spent in fetching water thus making them to neglect their farms because one is tired and cannot engage in any other productive role.

Crop Production

The area depends on rain fed agriculture. In the last four the area has not received rains thus leading to severe famine and food insecurity.

Other reasons to food insecurity:

- Poor fertile soils. The area has degraded soils due to erosion. Due to lack of terraces the crops do not yield well. Soil erosion has been attributed to overstocking and over grazing.

- Poor seed quality. They plant seeds that are not able to with stand the climate hence yield poorly hence less harvest. This because of unscrupulous dealers selling uncertified seeds.

- Poor farming practices. Their farms have not been terraced and when it rains there is usually soil erosion leaving the land bear.

- Pests and diseases. They affect their crops due to lack of knowledge controlling them and pesticides for spraying the crops.

- Late planting. Due to seed unavailability, because of prolonged famine and drought farmers do not have seeds to plant.

Main crops grown in the area

- Maize

- Cowpeas

- Green grams

- Sorghum

- Pigeon peas.

Environmental conservation

Water shortage in the area has led to the farmers not being able to grow trees. Termite infestation is another challenge to tree growing in the area. Other challenges to tree planting are lack of knowledge limiting them to grow the trees successfully and harsh weather conditions continue to lower their survival rates. Lack of trees has lead to shortage of firewood, which is the main source of firewood for most households. Women spent 2 hours in collecting firewood. The lack of trees has increased environmental degradation and lack of fodder for livestock.

By coming together they are hopeful that through sand dams and shallow wells they will be able to create water security in the area. Sand dams will improve the availability of water for farming and improve incomes.

The community plans to conserve soil through digging of terraces in areas affected by soil erosion

With water availability:

- The group income levels will increase. Through planting of vegetables and they will sell them and be able to get income.

- Tree program will not be a challenge as before due to sufficient water to water them.

- Water availability for our livestock. Our livestock will have enough water throughout the year and will no longer walk long distances thus improving their health and improving their milk production


For an area that heavily depends on livestock keeping as the main source of income, water security is key towards supporting this venture.

"When it stopped raining adequately we has to diversify to other activities that can support our families. Farming is the main source of income for hundreds of households in this area. However it has been three years since we harvested. That’s why we are keeping goats that we can sell and buy food during drought periods." Kakima B group secretary, Ruth Kyalo

The group has previously constructed two sand dams. The addition of a third sand dam will benefit the surrounding community at large and allow for further community development.

"We now have a growing water supply for drinking and domestic use. With a third dam we shall be able to have our livestock healthy and able to survive during the drought period. The available water isn’t enough for the animals and humans thus creating conflicts during the drought period." Ruth Kyalo.


Project Updates

April, 2015: Nappier Grass

Just a quick note to pass along some interesting information about the sand dam and shallow well project at Kakima B in Kenya.  In some of the more recent pictures from the project, you can see community members digging trenches near the dam and along the sides of the river.  We asked our partner in the field about these pictures, and this is what they said:

"The women are planting nappier grass to hold and make firm the river banks against erosion.This is also the place where they will be planting vegetables which they have already established a nursery for the vegetables. The nappier grass in future will be used as fodder for their livestock and will prevent disilting of the river channel."

We also just added a new personal account from this area, full of hope as a result of these projects and the arrival of clean water.  Don't miss it, and Thank You again for your help!

April, 2015: Kakima B Water Project Complete

We know you have been waiting quite some time for news about the project for Kakima B in Kenya.  We are excited to report that all the construction for this project is completed.  The sand dam is finished and has already gathered water from the seasonal rains.  The shallow well is complete and is providing clean water for the community.  Terraced farming is happening on the banks of the river.  Lots of change! Lots of progress! Imagine the impact all of this will have!

We just posted some new pictures of the finished well and dam. Take a look, and Thank You for your help!

December, 2014: New Pictures From Kakima B

Just a quick note to let you know we just posted some new pictures of the finished sand dam in Kakima B.  The shallow well is in process.  We'll let you know as soon as we receive any more information.

Thank you for caring for those without clean water!

September, 2014: Kakima B Project Well Underway

We are excited to announce that a project to bring clean water to Kakima B in Kenya is already well underway.  The full project includes the construction of a sand dam, the construction of a shallow well, and training in proper sanitation and hygiene.  We are happy to report that the sand dam is already finished.  This dam will help trap rain water in the soil of the surrounding area, raising the water table and improving access to water for both drinking and irrigating crops.  We just posted a report from our partner in the field including information about the community and pictures. A second progress report is below.  Take a look, and Thank You for your help!

Shallow Well Status: Plans are underway to start excavating the month of August.

Terracing: The group has also started to dig terraces in early August.

Tree nurseries: 518

Challenges in project implementation:

Solutions to the challenges:

The group began construction of their second TWP funded sand dam in the month of July. 

The construction of this dam was marked by a number of challenges;

The group attendance to the activity was poor, due to the county government activity in the area. The county government planned driving classes for all the members of the community during the construction period thus forcing many to skip the sand dam building process. To mitigate against this the field officer working with ASDF engaged the local youth from the youth polytechnic school to support the community to construct the dam. The field officer also organized the neighboring self-help group to support the SHG (which also doubled as a participatory learning visit/exchange!) to help finish up on the dam. This ended saving the group lots of time that they would otherwise spent in constructing the dam with too few people to help with construction.

Progress of other group activities

The group has an established tree nursery with 518 tree seedling mostly mango trees. It still plans to add more tree seedlings to the group in-order to have more fruit trees for future income generation.  Terracing has also commenced amongst the SHG members. Although the construction work is now complete for the sand dam there is still much more work to be done. The shallow well that accompanies the sand dam is scheduled to start in September. In the mean time, SHG members will continue to plant tree seedling and work on their farms as the sand dam simultaneously begins to fill with sand. 

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!

This Is Our Story - This Is Our Hope

April, 2015

Clearly this is a different place than the one I was at two years ago. 

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kakima B 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!

I must say that I really did struggle to give this story an appropriate heading. This is because of the unquantifiable, immense and inexpressible (Can we even use these words together!!!!!) encounter I had the other day during a field visit. This was at Kakima SHG a group in Makueni County which has been working with ASDF for the last two years. I vividly remember the first day I visited the group during collection of baseline data. One thing that I can remember was the desperate, wrinkled, tired old faces of a group of people who had given up on life due to the challenges of water insecurity.

During the interview I remember one old lady who shed tears as she narrated her daily routine of walking 8 km each day for a period of 6 hours to fetch drinking water from river Athi, which is heavily polluted with industrial and sewerage waste from the capital city Nairobi. This is the only source of water for a community village of over 800 households. Each day under the scorching heat of Kenya women with small children on their backs made this journey in order to have water for drinking and domestic use. Due to the high pollution of this water source many fell sick from amoeba and typhoid and were forced to spend their already strained budgets on medical bills. This story resonated well with all the members of the community. The community also highlighted how they had approached diverse leaders and even the government to be supported to tackle the water problem, but to no avail.

"The Dougan Valley"

On the day of my visit the story has changed. The smiles are as beautiful as ever, there is even singing, the birds all flock around the trees singing awesome music. In the background you can feel insects buzzing with activities, and to my awe the river is flowing again!!!!! Clearly this is a different place than the one I was at two years ago. I come across a few women working nearby to seek their story.

"I am really grateful to the three women who came to our support. By the way that was the first time we saw an aircraft land in our area. Because of their contribution we now have a valley of hope which we call the 'Dougan Valley'", remarks the chairlady of the Kakima SHG. (That’s how they can clearly remember Barbara and her daughters)

"Ever since we constructed the two sand dams and a shallow well our lives have completely changed. We have been able to save on time we used to spend in fetching water. I spend less than 15 minutes to fetch water. The water is clean and we no longer suffer from diseases. With the additional time we now have saved from fetching water we have been trained to plant vegetables which we are selling to get income and eat a balanced diet at the end of the day’s activities. Clearly if this is not development then I don’t know what development is!" exclaims the over jovial chairlady.

"If we had a way to all fly to where Barbara and family are we would all give her hugs and kisses because they have changed the lives of the village and villages to come have completely being positively changed, no more water diseases and long walks to fetch water."

Such stories and testimonials give us the motivation and courage to wake up another day to support more lives as much as we can. But without sacrificial support from well-wishers like Barbara through The water Project such stories remain a mirage. Its moments like this that you really applaud and celebrate partners because in one way or the other the foot prints of their support will always remain engrained in the lives of communities across the area of our work.

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 Kakima B 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 Kakima B 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.


Project Sponsor - Barbara Belle Ash Dougan Foundation