Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Program: Sand Dams in Kenya

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2015

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/28/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

This project is a part of our shared program with Africa Sand Dam Foundation. Our team is pleased to directly share the below report (edited for clarity, as needed).

The construction of this sand dam will bring great change to this region. As the dam matures, the water table in the area will rise. Among other things, this means another project, a shallow hand-dug well, can be constructed near the dam. To see the shallow well project, click here.


Kiluta self-help group, in Ngaa area of Matiliku region, was formed in 2009. The aim of forming the group was to fight a common enemy that has afflicted the area for many years: an acute water shortage. So acute has this problem been that the members feel it is responsible for their poverty. They have been grounded, their entire lives made to revolve around the search for water.

There three main sources of water for the people of Ngaa area. Kikuu River is one of them. It is approximately 4 kilometers away and it would take a member around 5 hours to go, fetch water and get back home. The other option is to buy water from the chief’s camp in Matiliku Market. One jerrican costs five shillings and one has to pay for a motor bike to transport the water to their home. This costs between 150 shillings and 200 shillings depending on one’s proximity to the market. It’s quite a costly affair.

The last and most preferred option is to fetch water at Kwa Mukuti Scoop Holes. This is along the Ikuma River and is quite close to their homes. The problem is the water takes time to sieve into the well and the people are forced to wait long hours to fill their containers. It takes about thirty minutes to fill one twenty-litre jerrican. Being the closest source of water for the community, everybody fetches water there and thus there are long queues that one has to wait out in order to fetch water, often late into the night, until the wee hours of morning. This becomes very risky, especially for the women, who are exposed to security threats, the danger of animal attacks and other such risks.

The members of Kiluta Self-Help Group, are however confident that the situation will change with the construction of sand dams. They are currently in the process of collecting local materials for the construction of their first sand dam. They hope that once the dam holds water, they will save up time, which they can use to engage in other activities. They hope to engage in irrigation farming and plant vegetables which they may sell and generate income for the group. They will set up tree nurseries and a demo farm for the group. Individually, the members could make bricks to sell. The prospects are endless!!

Scheduled Activities for Construction of Sand Dam.

Material collections- January-March 2015

Material collection was started, which involved the Self Help Group members in collecting sand and large stones to the project site where the dam will be constructed. For this group the materials were readily available and the group worked for two days per week for a period of 3 months totalling a number of days 24.

Trenching-April 2015

The trenching process involves digging the base foundation to get the base rock upon which the dam will be laid. This gives the dam stability to withstand any water pressure in the river channel. The group used three days to have the trench ready for construction of the dam.

Actual construction process

The construction process took approximately 30 days with the group working daily except for weekends. The construction started on the April 10th 2015-and was finished By May 10. The construction process was within the planned schedule.

Membership Participation

A total of 14 males and 15 females participated in the activity.

Success Of The Project

The construction of this project was a success as the dam already has harvested water and the community is getting water from this source for other domestic uses. The water challenges of the area have been solved within limited time frame and the impact of the dam is already being felt. Women and children who used walk for 4-6 km to get water are now getting water for less than 1km spending and average of 30-1hr.

Main Challenges Encountered During Construction

The main challenge encountered during the project is the start of the rains. This is unusual since the rain were unpredicted. Although normally this seasons is for the long rains, the last five years the area has had no rain during this period. This signifies an important aspect of climate change where the rains weather patterns have become hard to predict and seasonal trends have much varied or changed.

Seed Distribution

A distribution of seeds and tree seedlings was conducted at the end of June. With the help of these seeds, Self Help Group members will continue to use the sustainable farming skills such as terracing and planting of specific plant species that help fight erosion along the river banks, where some of the farms are located. The distribution not only helps thwart off soil erosion but also assists farmers in growing their farms to a point where they can grow a surplus well beyond subsistence farming and sell in markets for extra income.

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

June, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Kiluta 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 Kiluta, 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!




Project Sponsor - The Lifeplus Foundation