Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Program: Sand Dams in Kenya

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2015

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/24/2024

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 2011. The group has a membership of 29 people comprising of 23 women and 8 men. The group is located in Musunguu village, Kiambwa sub-location, Kiteta location, Kisau division, Mbooni East district in Makueni County. Makueni County is one of 8 counties in Eastern Kenya and one among the 3 counties in Ukambani region. The county borders Machakos to the north, Taita-Taveta to the south, Kitui to the east and Kajiado County to the west.

Reasons for group formation

  • Helping the orphan children in the area. The group wanted to help the children whom their parents died due to HIV/AIDS by supporting them.
  • Water Scarcity. In the months of July to September the community members experience water problem in the area. Through coming together the group wished to a have sand dams along their river channel.
  • The group wished to have welfare activities that would seek to improve their living standards. Through merry go round activities  (internal lending and savings groups) the group help in each other in dowry payment, payment of school fees and hospital bills.
  • Soil and environment conservation. The group wanted to dig terraces that would conserve soil on their farms and dig tree holes that they would plant trees in the farms to prevent soil erosion.

Economic activities

  • Farming
  • Livestock keeping



The main source of water is River Tawa. The distance of the water source from their homes is 1km. The community depends on river Tawa for water. During the dry season they face acute water shortages in the area. They spend 4 hours or more in the dry season due to long queues at the scoop hole. There are many donkeys at the water point which are used to fetch water thus making long queues.

“Most of us wake up early in the morning around 3am in order to go and fetch water in order to return home by 7am. The scoop hole during the dry season is dug up to the bedrock which is deep thus making it risky.” Loisa Peter

The river channel is eroded creating low water levels. During the dry season water turns saline thus making tree program challenging, as salinated water can ruin tree plantings.

They used to plant vegetables and French beans which we used to support the orphans after selling them. Due to lack of water they would dry up thus, incurring big losses. Even our water pump we have kept it in the store due to lack of water in the river channel to support irrigation. Currently we have abandoned growing of vegetables and French beans thus limiting our support to the orphans.

“Our livestock suffer much in the dry season as they lack enough water and also they are not grazed well because the community spends a lot of time in fetching water. Due to spending much time fetching water, we cannot engage in other productive activities” Peninah Mbatha.


The main crops grown the community grows are:

  • Maize
  • beans
  • pigeon peas
  • cowpeas

Reasons for poor harvest

  • Unreliable rainfall pattern. The community rely on rain fed agriculture. Due to unreliable rainfall in the area has led to poor harvest hence food insecurity.
  • Lack of terraced farmland. Most of the farms their lack terraces, which prevent soil erosion thus maintaining soil fertility which supports crop production. Also the farmers lack tools which are used for terracing and they cannot afford them.
  • Pre harvest and post harvest losses. Pest and diseases destroys the crops before harvests. The group lacks knowledge on how to control and prevent pest from destroying their crops. Also they lack post harvest skills therefore their produce is destroyed by weevils.
  • Late planting. Due to lack of seeds forces the farmers to plant late after the onset of rains leading to poor harvest.


Community members plant various trees, which include:

  • Paw paws
  • Blue gum
  • Mango
  • Gruvellia

They face challenges in tree planting:

  • Water scarcity. Due to lack of water the survival rates still remain low as trees dry up especially during the dry season.
  • Termite infestation. Farmers the skills on to control the termites and the termite chemicals thus most of the trees not surviving.
  • Lack of knowledge on tree planting and care management. Most of the farmers lack knowledge on care management of trees. This necessitates the trees to dry often because the farmers dig holes which are not standards


  • Sand dam. The community seeks to create water security through sand dam building.
  • Soil conservation. Through the support of tools the community members will terraces their farms.
  • Income. The group want to grow vegetables along the river bank and farmers will be able to sell and get income
  • The group will increase the number of trees they plant. With water availability they will plant different trees species that can be used for income, fodder and firewood.

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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!