Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Program: Sand Dams in Kenya

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2015

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 12/13/2022

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).

Because this sand dam is being constructed, a second project is made possible: the construction of a hand-dug shallow well at the same location. To see the shallow well project, click here.


The group was formed in the year 2009. It has a membership of 62 members with 23 males and 39 females. The average size of the household of the group is 6.4 members while the average age of the members is 49 years old. 21.67% of the households are female headed while 78.33 % of the households are male headed.

The group is found in Yikivumbu sub location, which has a population of 1685 people. The members of the group come from Ngomano village which has 107 males and 117 females, Ndatani village has 48 males 121 females, Kyeni village 43 males 88 females, Ngulai village has 82 males and 85 females.

(Editor's Note: While this many people may have access on any given day, realistically a single water source can only support a population of 350-500 people. This community would be a good candidate for a second project in the future so adequate water is available. To learn more, click here.)

The main sources of income for the group member’s households include:

- 37% depend on causal labour. Causal labour is an activity where one engages on household related jobs (unskilled labor), which are not frequently available. They also depend on the season e.g. most causal labour happens during harvest time and planting season.

- 3% are employed members in different professionals e.g. teachers

- 53% of the group depends on farming

- 7% operate small businesses. This area is one of the productive areas of the county and the members earn a living through farming.


The main source of water for the area is river scoop holes. 98% of the people fetch water from these holes. 2% have access to water from piped water to their homesteads.


48% travel for 2-3km to fetch water, while 22% travel for 1-2 km to fetch water. 25% travel for less than I km while 5% travel for 3-4km to fetch water.


48% spend 1 to 2 hours to get to the water point, while 5% spend less than 2-3 hours to get to the water point. 22% spend 30 minutes to 1 hour to get the water point.

Of the interviewed 52% do not treat their water before consuming, while 48% responded that they treat their water.

When asked the main form of treating water 45% treat their water by chlorination while 55% boil their water. ASDF WaSH strategy is to provide knowledge on methods of treating water and benefits of treating water from all sources.


Agriculture consists of the main form of livelihood for the community. As mentioned earlier 53% depend on agriculture as the sole form of income for their families. The average size of the farms is 3.2 acres. When asked to give a general picture of their harvests in the last farming period, 68% said they had harvested less than previous year while 23% said they had harvested more. Only 9% said their harvest was the same as the previous years.

The main reasons for poor harvests mentioned were poor seed quality and inability to invest in farming tools that would allow them to terrace the soil properly. Poor soil fertility was another issue as well as the lack of ability to bring adequate water to their farms. ASDF will seek to empower the farmers to practise climate-smart agriculture, which entails planting drought tolerant seeds, tree planting, and digging of terraces to help to conserve soil from erosion and boost its fertility. In all this, the goal is improving the harvests of the farmers.

The project objectives will therefore involve:

- Improving the water security of the area by construction of one sand dam and one shallow well to serve a population of 1685 people. This will help reduce the distance travelled and time taken to fetch water.

- Improving on food security by promoting soil and water conservation. Farmers to be supported with terracing tools, trained on terrace digging and climate smart agriculture to enable them boost their yields.

- Increase knowledge on hygiene and sanitation practises through the training and implementation of PHAST. The group will be trained on basic PHAST (Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Trainings). Action plans on implementation of tippy taps to promote hand washing and promoting treatment of water. ASDF will continuously monitor the water quality of the water point using mWater software.

- Drought resistant seed and treelings will be distributed to farmers once the sand dam has matured and the self help group members are ready to plant for the next season.


Materials for the construction of the dam were collected over a period of two months.  This included sand, cement, and rocks for use in the dam. Fortunately, these materials were available near the site and could be readily acquired. At some locations, communities have to hire delivery trucks to carry rocks from 5 or 8 kilometers away. During this time, a trench was dug across the dry river bed. The trench has to reach stable bedrock so that the heavy dam has a secure foundation.

Following all of these preparations, actual construction began on the 7th of September and was completed on the 17th. Group participation was very encouraging with 68 people helping at different times. This enabled construction to move along at a good pace. A major challenge faced was the availability of water for mixing cement. the group provided donkeys for carrying water. As the teacher strike in Kenya was still going on, many of the children were there and able to help with fetching water.

The dam is now complete, but still has to mature. Sand dams work by gathering sand on the up-stream side, washed down by water from rains.  The dam matures as the sand collects. Once mature, this sand acts as a sponge, trapping water that would normally run downstream or be evaporated by the sun. The water trapped in the sand then soaks int the surrounding ground, raising the water table, improving ground water for agriculture, and enabling the use of shallow wells.

ASDF will continue to work with this community, training in sanitation and hygiene, teaching improved farming techniques like terracing to preserve soil, and helping with tools and seedlings for the establishment of a tree nursery.

We're just getting started, check back soon!

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.