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The Water Project: Kisimani Self Help Group -
The Water Project: Kisimani Self Help Group -
The Water Project: Kisimani Self Help Group -
The Water Project: Kisimani Self Help Group -
The Water Project: Kisimani Self Help Group -
The Water Project: Kisimani Self Help Group -
The Water Project: Kisimani Self Help Group -
The Water Project: Kisimani Self Help Group -
The Water Project: Kisimani Self Help Group -
The Water Project: Kisimani Self Help Group -
The Water Project: Kisimani Self Help Group -
The Water Project: Kisimani Self Help Group -
The Water Project: Kisimani Self Help Group -
The Water Project: Kisimani Self Help Group -

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: 06/18/2019

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 unedited project information direct from our partner:

The group was formed in the year 20/2/2011. The group is located Ngandani sub-location in Kibwezi district. The group was formed by 32 members. Reasons for group formation were:

  • The group wanted to improve their environment through tree planting and soil conservation. Terracing was a major priority to them in order to conserve the soil on their farms hence improving their harvest
  • The group envisioned to have welfare activities such as merry go round (fund that community members can take loans from) that would help them to improve their socio-economic welfare.
  • The area experiences water problem. Through coming together the group wished to have sand dams on their river channel. The group also has seen impact of sand dams in the neighbouring community.

Economic activities

  • Farming
  • Livestock keeping



The main sources of water are Itungu springs and Kimawasco water pipeline. It takes 3 hours to fetch water. This is because the spring serves a large population. The main water source is Itungu springs in the dry season. The spring’s water is polluted because it is not protected. The area experiences water borne related incidences. The water pipeline is not reliable because it just comes once in a week. Also the water retails at kshs 4 per 20 litre jerrican at the water kiosks which is out of  reach to most of the community members who don’t have extra coins to spend due prolonged drought in the area.

Water shortage comes with other challenges faced by the community:

  • Women are the first culprit as they lag behind in development matters since the burden of water remains to them. This necessitates them to abandon other basic activities.
  • Tree planting program has been a challenge due lack water most of the have continued to dry up.


The main types of crops that they grow are:

  • Maize
  • Cowpeas
  • Green grams
  • Pigeon peas

The community depends on rain fed agriculture. In the last 5 years the area has had unreliable amount of rainfall which have led low harvest in the area thus making community food insecure. Other reasons for that have led to food insecurity are:

  • Poor farming practices. The community has continued to practise traditional planting methods that have led to decreased harvest. For example the community reliance on maize have led to decreased harvest due to unreliable rainfall
  • Lack of knowledge on farming methods.
  • Lack of tools. The group is currently digging terraces in the area so as to conserve soil from being eroded from their farms. Due to poverty most of the members cannot afford tools that can dig well the terraces on their farms.
  • Lack of good seeds for planting. Frequent droughts have affected the ability of the community to preserve seeds for their planting needs. Due to this the farmers have reduced the size of land under farming and only plant reduced sizes of land


The group is currently planting trees. The lack of water in the area has reduced the survival rate of trees planted. They lack skills and knowledge and termite infestation continue to hurt the tree planting program.


  • Sand dams. The community seeks to create water security through building of sand dams. This will help them improve water availability for farming so that they can mitigate food insecurity and improve their income.
  • Goat project. This program will help them to improve their local breeds and increase milk production.
  • Climate change. The community seeks to have knowledge and skills so they can use to be resilient communities.
  • Tools. The community want to dig terraces to conserve soil in their farms. Through support of farms tools will enable them to dig terraces.

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 Kisimani were therefore used to build a well at another project site. To see the report, click here.

Project Updates

03/20/2014: Kisimani Sand Dam Completed

After some delays in receiving reports, we are excited to report that the work to construct a sand dam in Kisimani, Kenya, is complete.  The report below from our partner in the field gives the latest information on this project:

Kisimani self help group, which in Kiswahlil means  “Spring of Water”. A villager explains to us about the history of the rivers that transect his village, “Our rivers never used to dry. We had plenty of water for farming and use for all other demands. We used to supply vegetables to Kibwezi market. But the climate has changed and we have been reduced to beggars who depend on relief food from the government.” Says a frustrated Pauline Ndavi member for Kisimani self help group.

For people who are used to being self-sufficient it can be a difficult transition to rely on others for assistance. Especially when they know that the cause of there suffering has been brought on my issues that are beyond their control such as climate change. Because of these environmental issues and changes happening around their community, the people decided to form the Kisimani Self Help Group and request assistance for a sand dam, in the hopes that they might be self sufficient again one day.

The group’s main activities are sand dam building to reclaim the river channel that was once a permanent water source for the community. The group is also been supported by ASDF to enhance food security in the area through planting of drought tolerant food crops and training. The group is also been supported by ASDF to conserve the environment through tree planting.


The sand dam started 4th June 2013. The main challenge was availability of local materials. Members of the group had to contribute money to buy stones for construction which was major problem to them. Also due to geological constraints it took 5 days (which is much longer than normal)  to dig out the bedrock. Despite these aforementioned problems, the collective effort of the group members allowed them to finish on August 8 2013. The rains appear to have come allowing the sand dam to fill up with water and sand.

Construction is finished, but this is only the beginning of the change for this community as our partner will continue working with them to develop hygiene and sanitation practices and farming techniques.  We’ll keep you posted as things move forward.

The Water Project : kenya4033-1

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.


Project Underwriter - Crosspointe Fellowship Church
Peace Lutheran Church
New Life Evangelical Lutheran Church
Vanderbilt International Relations Association
The Presbyterian Church, Sewickley Confirmation Class
First Church in Weymouth/Robert C. Bradbury
Pagosa Springs Middle School
Glory Wysner Circle of UMW Gay Street UMC
Victoria Kaliser, Akiba Academy
The Lancaster Crew
39 individual donor(s)