Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Program: Sand Dams in Kenya

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2015

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/07/2024

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.


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 tasks easier to work together because they achieve much more than when working alone.

- The group constructed gabions (retaining walls) to help retain water as when it rains the water is usually carried away.

- They have a merry go round financing group (fund sharing system) which serves as a means of livelihood to them and helps the group bond together.

Water insecurity

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

When gathering water for household chores like cooking washing and other domestic chores 52.5% get it from the bore hole, 10% from the earth dam and 37.5% from the river scoop hole.

For drinking water, 35% of the respondents prefer the river scoop hole while 65% buy water from the bore hole. The water from the bore hole is preferred for drinking because it is clean. It costs 5 shillings (about $.05) per 20liter Jerri can. Mwanyani earth dam is 3 km away, Yandia River is 1 km away, and the bore hole is 3 km away from their homes. Community members said that they do not queue at the earth dam but at 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 practices 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

Challenges to food production

- Lack of enough rainfall. Due to climate change, rainfall in current years has been unpredictable and 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. They do not have a seed bank where they would get the seeds. This causes farmers to plant late, resulting in lower yields. Sometimes they buy seeds which cannot cope with the 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 also affects their harvests. The farmers do not harvest as needed due to pre harvest losses. In particular, 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

Farm Terracing

Terraces aid in soil conservation and only 7.5 % of the members had dug terraces in the last season. This leads to continued degradation of the environment as much of 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. They need to be trained on tree planting for future successful tree planting.

- Termites. The farmers experience termite infestations which affect their morale on tree planting. They lack chemicals for termites as they are expensive.

- Due to lack of water, tree planting has been a challenge to the community members. The trees dry up, affecting the survival rate.


Collection of materials is causing delays. The communty needs to transport stones from 5-6 km distance to the construction site. The roads to get stones are not very passable, so community members are redoing road to make it passable by leveling it using tools supplied by ASDF. They are also removing big stones that are in the middle of the road. The group approached the Govenor for assitance for this task, but got no response. A woman from the community went to govenors house directly and sat and waited till 10pm until he got home and told him how much they needed water and how much they struggledd to get the funds to deliver stones to the site. After hearing this, Govenor contributed some funds and provided some personal househelp to work with the women at the sand dam site. They also approached county government, and they are awaiting more support.

Since we are close to the rainy season, ASDF staff have begun organizing other community members and various staff for a one day construction exercise- to complete 1/2 the dam. This allows for motiviation and interaction between multiple community groups as well as staff. The Govenor is planning to be there that day for group work, because he now has interest in the work as it is involved in his county. Construction is expected to be complete by the middle of October.


Materials for the sand dam were collected for approximately a month starting from September 7th and continuing until October 5th. The governor eventually funded the rental of a tractor that enabled the transportation of materials to the dam. Construction began on October 6th and continued until the 28th. Staff mobilized community members throughout the project, providing an average of 2 males and 17 females to work each day. Involving the local community and its self-help group in the construction process motivated people and increased the labor force required to complete this project. Thus, the community feels a great sense of ownership for the project you have funded.

Now Muselele Village will have enough water for both domestic and farming purposes.

The Water Project and Twone Mbee Muselele Community and Self-Help Group Thank You for making abundant clean water a reality!

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 and 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 and 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!