Nzalu Self Help Group Sand Dam Project

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Sand Dams in Kenya

Latitude -1.64
Longitude 37.55

455 Served

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Stories and 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).

Because this sand dam is being constructed, another project is made possible in the same location. A shallow well is being dug which will only be a success because the sand dam will help raise the water table in the area. To see the shallow well project, click here.


The group has 26 members with 10 men and 16 women .The group was formed in the year 2013 and registered in 2014.It is located in Ndumbu village with a population of 75 male,130 women and 250 children. Mangani sub location with 1800 people, Kisau location, Kisau Division Mbooni East district Makueni County.

The average household size is 6.3 members and an average age of 47.18 years.

Economic Activities
• Farming
• Small business
• Livestock keeping

Reasons for group formation
Working alone one cannot do much therefore the members saw that the by forming a group they would be able to solve some of the needs that they were facing alone at their various home. They face water shortage therefore began by collecting materials and constructed a sand dam to raise the water table. They have a merry go round programme going on in the group.


The main source of water for the group is Waani river.

50% of the members interviewed travel a distance of less than 1 km, 31% distance of 1-2 km, and 19% travel a distance of 2-3 km respectively. All the members queue for more than 30 minutes each day during the dry season for water with 44% queuing for 1-2 hours, 44% queue for 1-2 hours, while 12 % queue for 30min-1hour.The members said that they spend more than two hours each day in search of water. This is because though some members are near the water source they have queue for a long time in the river as the water table during the dry season is low. This makes the have to dig deep scope holes to get to the water. Due to lack of sufficient water they said that small business is affected as they do not get to open their work in time because first they have to go and get water. The river supports the whole location and hence there are many people getting water from the river.


The community rely on rain agriculture for food production. They grow food mainly for subsistence. The area under food production is 3.34 acre.

The main food crops grown are
• Maize
• Cowpeas
• Pigeon peas
• Green grams

Challenges to food production
• With the change in climate the communities said that the rainfall is not reliable any more. The rainfall is usually erratic and unreliable.
• Lack of seed. They do not have seed to plant timely and their cost is high in the agro vets shop of which some of the members are not able to afford.
• All the members said that they had not had training in the last two years on improved farming practices. This means that they continue to practise the old methods of planting which are not able to yield much with the change in climate.

Environmental conservation

81% of the members plant trees while 19% said that they do not plant trees.

Challenges faced in tree planting program are:
1. Termite. The trees planted are infested by termite and they do not have cash to buy the insectides to control the termite.
2. Lack of knowledge on tree management. The members said that at times they dry because they are not well taken care of.
3. Lack of water in the dry season. Lack of enough water lead drying up especially in the dry season.


July 2015
There were delays in the preparation for Nzalu Sand Dam as unseasonal rains prohibited self help group members from collecting the local materials needed for construction. As of beginning of July the group has now started to collect the stones and sand needed for construction. As you can see from the photos, the stones are collected and broken by hand, which can be demanding physical work, but the group is determined to see the sand dam begun. We will keep you updated as we receive more updates from the field.


After some delays, Nzalu Self Help Group was finally able to begin construction on the sand dam for their community.  One of the major challenges faced was a difficulty in finding all of the needed materials. The rocks and other materials needed were not available in the immediate area of the dam, so they had to be brought in from 8km away, one truck load at a time. Community members raised funds for this task by selling livestock and other possessions. The sacrifice is significant, but clean water is such a necessity.

In the face of difficulty, the people of Nzalu persevered, and that sand dam is now complete.  Now the process of maturing begins.  As rains come and wash water down the dry river bed, it will pick up sand, and then deposit that sand on the upstream side of the dam. As the dam fills with sand, that sand holds on to water like a sponge, raising the water table in the area. Our partner will continue working with this community during and after the maturation process, helping with sanitation and hygiene training and improving farming techniques.


Project Photos

Recent Project Updates

11/20/2015: New Pictures From Nzalu Sand Dam

Our program director just returned from a few weeks visiting our partners and some of the projects in Kenya. She had the chance to stop by Nzalu and took some great new pictures of the dam, community members, and the start of their tree nursery. We thought you’d like to see the work you help accomplish, and the smiles that are the result!

Thanks again for your help!

The Water Project : kenya4386-113

10/02/2015: Nzalu Sand Dam Project Construction Complete

We are excited to let you know that, after some delays, a new sand dam has been constructed for Nzalu Self Help Group. We just updated the project page with the latest information and pictures of the finished dam. As the project continues, the dam will mature, filling with sand, and our partner will continue to work with the community, training in sanitation and hygiene and farming techniques.

We’ll let you know as soon as our partner sends along more information. In the mean time, take a look, and Thank You for your help!

The Water Project : kenya4386-13-dam-complete

07/21/2015: Nzalu Sand Dam Construction Underway

We are excited to announce that, thanks to your willingness to help, construction has begun on a sand dam for Nzalu Self Help Group in Kenya. The finished dam will help raise the level of the water table in the area, aiding in agriculture and providing clean water for the community. Sanitation and hygiene training will also be conducted, helping to reduce the spread of disease in the area. We just posted a report from our partner in the field including information about the community, GPS coordinates, and pictures. We’ll keep you posted as the project continues.

The Water Project : kenya4386-06-nzalu-dam-site-and-local-materials

Monitoring Data

Project Type:  Sand Dam
Location:  Central Kenya
ProjectID: 4386
Install Date:  09/07/2015

Monitoring Data
Water Point:
Last Visit: 12/20/2017

Visit History:
04/11/2016 — Functional
07/12/2016 — Needs Attention
12/19/2016 — Functional
05/22/2017 — Functional
09/06/2017 — Functional
12/20/2017 — Functional


Project Underwriter - Jenifer Beaudean-White
Rose W. Goode
Monroe Christian School
The Steve Perry Foundation
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. DCP Alumnae Chapter
Corte Madera School
John Strange Elementary School
Sharon High School Interact Club
Riverside Woman's Club
Zion Lutheran School
Thomas C. Boushall Middle School
Turtle Rock Elementary School
Stow-Munroe Falls Student Council
Jordan and Filip
Susan B. Anthony Academy - IS
Community of Faith UMC
Mr. Hertzog's Class, Adams Elementary, Seattle, WA
St. Anne Catholic Church 214
Southside School
Data Abstract Solutions, Inc.
Saint Cecilia Catholic School - Home of the Tigers
Elena Confirmation Project Fundraising Page
Mr. Young's 3rd Grade Class Fundraising Page
East Noble Gets Involved
AQua Enactus's Fundraising Page 2014-2015
CCSA 6th Grade's Fundraising Page
Brownie Troop 3355
CIS Fundraising Page 2015
May Rocha's Fundraising Page
Help Global Feminism
Kathleen Watson's Fundraising Page
41 individual donor(s)

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Country Details


Population: 39.8 Million
Lacking clean water: 43%
Below poverty line: 50%

Partner Profile

Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF) supports self-help groups to harvest and conserve water through construction of sand dams & shallow wells, rock catchments and school roof catchments.