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Location: Kenya

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 400 Served

Project Phase:  Installed

Functionality Status:  Functional

Community Profile & Stories

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).

Background Information

Mikuyuni Muumoni Earth Dam Self-Help Group was formed in 2002. It has 32 members, consisting of 11 men and 21 females. The average age of the group members is 45.1 years old, making it a fairly young-aged group. Before engagement with ASDF, the main activities the group engaged in were terrace-digging and construction of water pans (manmade ponds for water catchment, used for agriculture). The objective of forming this group was to solve the perennial water shortage in the area. From the survey conducted to assess water challenges in the area, 50% of the respondents travel a distance of 1‐2 km each way to fetch water, while 25% travel a distance of 2‐3 km each way in order to fetch water. 58% spend more than one hour in queues waiting to fetch water once there!

Starting in 2012, the group constructed three sand dams on their own which have since eroded away. They did not have the skills or the expertise in building stable and reliable dams. But even with these poor quality dams, the group has been able to see some of the benefits of fetching water there throughout the year. The main scoop holes are located close to where these three dams were constructed.

The Current Source

The main source of water is water kiosks, (community water points connected to boreholes), where community members buy water at five Kenyan shillings per 20-liter jerrican. Water containers are 20-liters unless the children are fetching; children must use a smaller 10 or five-liter jerrican. The container covers are either improvised lids or polythene tied over the openings. The containers also appeared to be very dirty, and should be cleaned before locals fetch drinking water.

Frequent breakdowns of the water-pumping system lead to huge unreliability of water; making water available at the source only a few hours on any given day.

A secondary source of water is the river located over 1 km away. Once at the river, community members must dig scoop holes to collect water. The majority of households own either a bicycle or a donkey, which they use as a means of transporting water home from the different sources. Water-fetching is the responsibility of all family members.

Gathered water is stored in large water reservoirs at the household, which are normally between 100‐500 liters. The size of the water reservoirs is dependent on what the family can afford, and all seem to be made of plastic. To avoid frequent trips to the water source, children always help fetch water during the weekends.

The long distances and time used to fetch water restricts the community from engaging in other socioeconomic activities that could improve the livelihood of the community. The main economic activity of the community is farming, with 62.5% of the members relying solely on agriculture. This wasted time could be retrieved if there were nearby safe water sources.

Sanitation Situation

100% of households have pit latrines, and the majority of them are in great condition. The latrine superstructures are made of concrete and are well-roofed. Because of these good conditions, no open defication was observed during the initial visit.

Garbage disposal has two levels: Within the main house there is a bin that is occasionally emptied into a compost pit at the back of the family compound. Because many of the community members are farmers, they have knowledge on how to make manure from these compost pits.

This community’s level of education and exposure to good hygiene and sanitation practices is high. Locals certainly have a basic understanding and the ability to practice hygiene and sanitation. For example, it is normal for latrines to be well-covered and clean.

Training Sessions

The self-help group will be trained for three days using the PHAST (Participatory Health and Sanitation Training) method. Topics will include proper water treatment, hand-washing, and household hygiene.

The group is in its first year of a five-year cooperation agreement with ASDF. During the engagement period, the group will receive help in constructing other, higher quality sand dams. The Machakos County Government has an ambitious plan to do alternative water project in the area which will complement the sand dams.

This Project

For this specific project, ASDF will aid the self-help group in building a new, more effective sand dam. This sand dam will be located much closer to the community, taking 10 minutes of travel each way. The project length is about 52 meters and a height of 3.45 meters. As the sand dam matures, the water table will rise and the sand that builds up will naturally filter that water.

“Water scarcity has been a major challenge in our area, forcing us to trek for 5km to the nearby water source. The water is not always clean because we meet so many people and all our livestock drink water from there. Our children have been missing school to go and fetch water to carry to their school. This has affected their performance greatly.

“When we heard about ASDF and the work they do, we had no choice other than teaming up as a group and start the construction immediately. Once we finish this sand dam water will be 10 minutes’ walk from my home, we will also have water to wash our houses and clothes clean. We planning also to use it for growing vegetables and planting trees in our area. I can’t wait to see it complete,” says Joyce Mumbua, chairlady of the self-help group.

Project Results: Sand Dam

Construction of the Mikyuni Muumoni sand dam began on February 8th. We planned that the entire construction process take 25-30 days, so no more than one month. Materials collection had started in January, and community participation in these efforts was way above average. Members decided to work eight hours a day, six days a week until the sand dam was completed! They worked vigorously to finish building before the onset of the rainy season. Actual construction from start to finish ended up totaling 35 days, which was very close to what we planned. The sand dam ended up being as projected: 3.45 meters high by 51.7 meters long. This took a lot of sand and sweat to build, but this finished dam will be well worth the efforts! It will raise the water table, creating both a sustainable, safe water source and fertile environment for successful harvests. Local farmer Mwanzia Wambua said, “We have not being used to this kind of hard work, but we are very happy to see a sand dam in our main river. This will change lives through provision of water.”


Hygiene and sanitation training was held for three days in a group member’s home. It offered convenience, giving shelter from the rainy weather and was just a short walk from everybody’s homes. Dates were chosen not by what worked well for the facilitator, but for the self-help group. We want to encourage as much attendance as possible. There was a great turnout; 16 out of the 32 self-help group members showed up to learn about the basics of hygiene and sanitation. They actively participated in group discussion and demonstrations, learning about topics such as, but not limited to:

  • Good and bad daily habits that affect your health
  • Choosing the right hygiene and sanitation improvements for you and your family
  • Chains of contamination
  • Construction of hand-washing stations and the steps of proper hand-washing

An immediate result of training was a schedule for implementing some of the improvements members learned about. For example, having a hand-washing station outside of your pit latrine, or a dish rack and clothesline within your compound. Participants were very happy with the applicable things they learned about, realizing that improved health is actually within their means. Evelyne Ndungwa, farmer and mother, said “I now understand and am well-motivated to keep my household clean and free from diseases!”

Members also compiled a set of rules to be followed when around the sand dam. Livestock and humans will use different access points when it comes to water, keeping the animals away from the sand dam itself. Each will have their designated scoop hole.

We are also happy to hear that sand along this river will no longer be harvested for commercial purposes. The community in conjunction with the county government and National Environmental Management Authority have banned the harvesting of sand near rivers. This will preserve natural flow of the rivers in the Mikuyuni Muumoni Self-Help Group’s area and greater Southeast Kenya.

Thank You for unlocking the Mikuyuni Muumoni Group and their community’s potential – There is now hope of a wonderful harvest!

Recent Project Updates

06/09/2016: Mikuyuni Muumoni Sand Dam Project Complete

We are excited to share with you that the sand dam for the Mikuyuni Muumoni Self-Help Group is now complete. This dam will mature over time, with the riverbed soaking up water that will be accessed by scoop holes. The dam will naturally filter the water and ensure there is always an adequate supply for farmers and their families. The water table will rise and transform the surrounding environment into fertile ground. Please take some time to enjoy the updated report and pictures. None of this good work would have been possible without your generosity!

The Water Project, Mikuyuni Muumoni Self-Help Group and their community Thank You for unlocking potential!

The Water Project : 6-kenya4462-complete

03/18/2016: Mikuyuni Muumoni Sand Dam Project Underway

We are happy to announce that the Mikuyuni Muumoni Self-Help Group and their community in Kenya will soon be transformed by the construction of a sand dam. The dam will help raise the water table in the area, providing clean water and helping with agriculture. The community will also receive training in sanitation and hygiene, helping to stop the spread of disease in the area. We just posted an initial report including information about the community, GPS coordinates, and pictures. We’ll keep you posted as the work continues.

Take a look, and Thank You for your help!

The Water Project : 21-kenya4483-fetching-water

02/18/2016: Update From The Water Project

You’ve been assigned to a project! Check it out! And we’ll share more once the work begins!

The Water Project : kenya4333-twp-kenya-cheers

Explore More of The Project

Project Photos

Monitoring Data

Project Type:  Sand Dam
Location:  Machakos, Masii
ProjectID: 4462
Install Date:  06/09/2016

Monitoring Data
Water Point:
Last Visit: 09/06/2017

Visit History:
05/30/2016 — Functional
07/12/2016 — Functional
12/13/2016 — Functional
06/12/2017 — Functional
09/06/2017 — Functional


Da Vinci Schools
Jonah Development Corporation
Kelly Wellness and Chiropractic
Jade Industries, Inc.
DCS Montessori Charter School/Room 8
Baylor University's African Student Association
Steven & Carisa Jones Family Fund
Masconomet Regional Middle School Mr. Mahoney Ancient Cultures Period 1
Dylan, Nathan and Emily
The Hermosillo Family
William O. Douglas Chapter of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity
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We Are Wildflowers
McMillan Magnet Center/Elizabeth Hutchins
Response Church
163 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.