Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Program: Sand Dams in Kenya

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2015

Functionality Status:  Water Flowing - Needs Attention

Last Checkup: 03/07/2024

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.

Below is project information direct from our partner (edited for clarity):


The group was formed in the year 2011. It has 47 members; 45 women and 2 men. It is located in Muselele village, Mulala sub location, Mulala location, Maatha, Mulala Division Nzaui District, and Makueni County. It has a committee of 12 of which 10 are women and 2 are men.

The average household size is 5.9 and the members have an average age of 42.6 years.

Economic activities
• Farming
• Casual jobs

Reasons for group formation
• The members came together to assist each other in activities like making of roads. They say it makes works easier to work together because they achieve much more than when one is alone.
• The group constructed gabions to help retain water as when it rains the water is usually carried away.
• They have a merry go round which serves as a means of livelihood to them and helps the group bond together.

Water Insecurity
The members get water from Yandia River, governor’s borehole and Mwanyani earth dam.

Water for household chores like cooking washing and other domestic chores 52.5% get from the bore hole, 10% from the earth dam and 37.5% from the river scope hole.

For drinking water 35% of the respondents prefer the river scope hole while 65% buy water from the bore hole. The water from the bore hole is preferred for drinking because it is clean. It is bought at 5 shillings per 20liter Jerri can. Mwanyani earth dam is 3 km, Yandia River is 1 km and the bore hole is 3 km for their homestead. They said that they do not queue at the earth dam but in the bore hole and the river scope hole they have to queue.

Challenges they face because of lack of water
• The water from the bore hole is bought at 5 shillings and this is expensive as they cannot afford to buy it every day.
• They spend many hours queuing in order to get water and this leaves them with less time to do other economic activities that would earn them income
• They have no water for planting trees and small kitchen gardens that would be a supplement to the income that they earn.

The group relies on rain fed agriculture and practise subsistence farming. The average land under food production is 1.75 acres. This is due to high population in the area.

The main crops grown by the community are
• Maize,
• Pigeon peas,
• Cow peas
• Beans.

Challenges to food production
• Lack of enough rainfall: Due to climate change, rainfall in current years has been unpredictable it is usually erratic. The members said that rains are not enough to see their crops to maturity.
• Lack of seeds: This is because they do not have money in time to buy seed to plant or they did not have a seed bank where they would get the seeds. This makes the farmers plant late hence as a result have lower yields. Sometimes they buy seeds which cannot cope with climatic conditions of the place.
• 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.
• Increased incidence of pests and diseases: This has affected their harvests. The farmers do not harvest as required due to pre harvest losses. Especially the green grams and pigeon peas are affected by blight. Many of the farmers are not able to buy the chemicals because they are expensive and the crops require regular spraying.
• Lack of knowledge on improved farming practices. All the group members said that they had no training in the last two years on any improved planting practices.

Environmental Conservation

Terraces aid in soil conservation and only 7.5 % of the members had dug terraces in the last season. This continues to lead to degradation of the environment as most of the time the soil is carried away.

Tree planting
The main trees planted by the community are fruit trees which include citrus and paw paw

Most of the trees fail and they cited the following as the main causes of tee failure.
• Knowledge and skills. Most of the farmers have not had any training on tree planting hence they need to be trained on tree planting for future success.
• Termites. The farmers experience termite infestation which affect their morale on tree planting. They lack chemicals for termites as they are expensive.
• Lack of water: Due to lack of water, tree planting has been a challenge to the community members. This is because the survival rate still remains low as some trees dry up


Material Collection

The material collection for this group involved preparing the road through which the stones (building rocks) would be transported to the site. This was occasioned by lack of the stones at the site. The rocks were being collected 8 kilometres away. The role of the self-help group was to collect the materials (stones) while they hired a tractor to ferry the stones to the site. This activity was also a challenge as the members had to contribute at least Ksh 1200 to have at least 50 trailers worth of stone at the site. Most members could not afford this amount and the shg committee mobilised itself to seek for support from the governor who lives in the area. The aggressiveness of the shg chairlady to have a meeting with the governor at 10pm one day resulted to the governor paying half of the required stones and promising to have more support in the construction of the second dam by the group. The collection process took 3 months.


Trenching took 1 week for the group to find a suitable base rock.

Actual Construction

Construction started on the 7th.  It took 15 days.

Membership Participation

38 members of the group participated in the activities.(3 males 33 females)

Success of the Project

The group was able to mobilize funds for the county government and also build partnership with the government for future support. This enabled success of the projects since without the support the time spent to have the project would have been more. The group already has water for use that will also be used to support the construction of the next dam with minimal cost and delays due to unavailability of water.

Main Challenges Encountered During Construction

The rains affected the transportation of the materials from the source to the site. Since the group had done a temporary road to use the terrain( hilly) delayed the availability of the material on site.

Because this sand dam was constructed, the community was also enabled to build a shallow well as a source of clean water. The dam raises the water table in the area, making the shallow well possible. To see the well connected to this dam, click here.

Project Updates

August, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Edward Kimeu

This post is part of a new series by The Water Project meant to highlight the perspectives and experiences of the people we serve and how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them. We invite you to read more of their stories here.

Our team recently visited Twone Mbee Muselele Community to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point. Shortly after, we returned to check in on the community, offer a COVID-19 refresher training, and ask how the pandemic is affecting their lives.

It was during this most recent visit that Edward Kimeu shared his story of how the coronavirus is impacting his life.

Our staff met Edward outside his home to conduct the interview. Both our staff and Edward observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Edward’s story, in his own words.

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

“Before the onset of the virus, I used to work as a cook in a nearby school. But my day job was stopped in March after the virus was first reported in Kenya. I have been staying at home with my children as we wait for this pandemic to cool down. It has been a very tough time because we are not being paid; hence no income is flowing in. We are also uncertain about the extent of this ‘lockdown’ and how long it will last as the food we had in our storage is not enough.”

Edward makes bricks

What steps is Kenya taking to prevent the spread of the virus?

“The government has been promoting safety measures that should be practiced such as wearing masks at all times when going to public places, hand washing using soap and clean water and social distancing/ avoiding crowded places. All service providers were recommended to have handwashing stations set up outside their shops, while the rest of the citizens were told to have them at their homes to ensure everyone washes their hands.”

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Kenya, has fetching water changed for you because of restrictions, new rules, or your concerns about the virus?

“Getting water has not changed per se, because the water point is directly outside my home. However, when other community members come to fetch water, they wash their hands before/after using the hand pump. There is no crowding at the water point as the locals were used to before, now we have put a policy where you leave after fetching to allow enough time for another person without posing the risk of contracting the virus.”

How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?

“Having a well/sand dam project has helped us in getting water for use at our homes. We fetch water from the well daily to use for drinking, cooking, cleaning, watering our vegetable garden/tree nursery, and for brick making. With easy access to water, life is easier and manageable during this pandemic.”

How has getting food been at this time?

“We had a bumper harvest in the previous season, and we stored abundant food, but it has been running out very fast. Currently, our store has food that can last us for only two weeks. Without any income flow, we plan to use the water from the well to plant some vegetables at least to ensure my children do not sleep hungry.”

June, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Twone Mbee Muselele 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 Twone Mbee Muselele, 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.

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!




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