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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).

Welcome to the Community

The members of Matoma Nyumbi Kumi Self-Help Group came together to find a solution to their water problems by sharing resources and constructing new water points. Matoma Nyumbi Kumi means “10 jerrycans” in Swahili. They constructed a sand dam in 2014, though without knowledge on how to do so properly. The group members want to control soil erosion in the area, and have started doing so by building terraces on their farms. They are all farmers who either keep livestock or cultivate fruits and vegetables, with the majority growing fruit trees. These farmers then sell the fruit tree saplings. Without water, the farmers’ opportunities are suppressed and income is lowered. They have a merry-go-round project (a local fund-sharing program) which encourages them to meet frequently. In the case a member is not feeling well, they help each other in catering for medical expenses. Mumbuni Village is home to 400 people.

Water Situation

This sand dam will be the second that this group is implementing with us. The first official sand dam was completed in the beginning of 2015, and is still maturing. A hand-dug well was also built in order to give locals an even safer water point (the water will grow clearer as the dam matures by building up more sand). The sand dam has proven a huge asset to agriculture in this area. Just last year, the group was able to plant 800 fruit tress! However, the first sand dam and hand-dug well are too far (over 1.5 km) for some of the community members, and so they will implement the new sand dam further along the river. With just one sand dam, long lines are the norm. A second dam will reduce the crowds at the water points and provide a sustainable supply of water for everyone in the community. Some families can’t even afford a reservoir tank for water storage, so they have no choice but to fetch water on a daily basis.

Sanitation Situation

100% of households have a pit latrine. The conditions of these latrines vary according to a family’s income level. Families that have more money invest in a deeper pit, while families that don’t have much cannot. Most of the pits we saw during our visit were almost full. Most women had a dish rack and clothesline to dry their families’ things, but we only counted eight hand-washing stations. This certainly isn’t enough for 400 people!

Each household has a designated compost pit where they dispose of their waste. The compost is then used to increase soil fertility on farms.

The group is in their second year of working with ASDF, and in the first year, the group was trained on hygiene and sanitation to increase awareness on waste disposal, hand-washing, personal hygiene and water treatment. With the availability of water, the community is able to practice some of the learnt concepts. Farmer and mother Ann Muia says “With water close to our homes we have improved cleanliness. Our children bathe daily and go to school in clean uniforms. More training on how to treat water is needed…”

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

This group of people is made up of many elderly members, so a serious refresher training is planned. We are planning to invite more young people than last time, so that they can learn and remind their parents and grandparents about good health practices. Training will take two days, and will focus on water treatment.

Plans: Sand Dam

Community members are doing a great job taking care of their current sand dam, as can be seen in the pictures. The sand dam raised the water table within good access of the hand-dug well, so water will be available year round. This second dam will bring a sustainable source of water to people further away in this community. Another hand-dug well will also be built adjacent to the new dam (click here to see!).

Farmer Veronica Mutungar says that “The first sand dam we built last year has helped in providing us with water. We still are going to construct more sand dams to have more water for all our needs.” The sand dam is projected to be 22.1 meters long and 4.4 meters high.

The community will be involved in all phases of project management and will be consulted in the planning stage to identify the sand dam site most convenient for all. The community will also be involved in the implementation and monitoring stage, the collection of local materials and provision of labor during construction. The community will also help along the legal processes for registration of the projects through signing agreements with landowners. The community will be able to participate in the maintenance of the project, always ensuring that the sand dam is functional.

Recent Project Updates

12/20/2017: A Year Later: Matoma Nyumba Kumi Sand Dam

A year ago, generous donors helped build a sand dam for the Matoma Nyumba Kumi Self-Help Group in Kenya. Because of these gifts and our monthly donors, partners are able to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the actual water project. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – we’re excited to share this one from our partners Boniface Mavindu and Titus Mbithi with you.

The Water Project : 4463-yar-1

09/15/2016: Matoma Nyumba Kumi Sand Dam Project Complete

We are very excited to report that, thanks to your willingness to help, the members of the Matoma Nyumba Kumi Self-Help Group and their families in Kenya have a new source of safe, clean water. A new sand dam has been constructed on a local river, which will build up sand to raise the water table and naturally filter water. The self-help group members have also received training in sanitation and hygiene, and plan to share what they learned with their families and neighbors. You made it happen, now help keep the water flowing! Join our team of monthly donors and help us maintain this well and many other projects.

The report below from our partner gives the latest details of the project. We also just updated the project page with new pictures. Make sure to click on the “See Photos & Video” tab to check them out!

Project Result: New Knowledge

We consulted with locals to determine the best dates for hygiene and sanitation training, because we wanted as many community members to be present as possible. Training was held at the self-help group leader’s home compound. 11 out of the 15 self-help group members attended. Since this is our second year of working with the Matoma Nyumba Kumi Self-Help Group, these training sessions were more like a review of what participants learned last year. We checked on the group’s progress in implementing a plan of hygiene, health, and economic improvements in their community. We learned that the group has so far been successful in accomplishing the following tasks:

  • Five families out of the 11 always treat their drinking water
  • All members have functional latrines at home
  • Eight of the families have hand-washing stations
  • 10 families have dish racks
  • Four families have rubbish pits

The facilitator used group discussions, demonstrations, visual aids and lectures to help members review all of the hygiene and sanitation practices they learned last year, and reinforced the importance of implementing the improvement plan. This facilitator believes the community is on track, but emphasized review on waste disposal and water treatment.

Muendi Ndinda, one of the group members, was present at training. We caught up with her after, and she said “I used to take for granted covering of my pit latrines. I was not aware that from the toilet germs can be transferred to the house. We now cover and clean the toilets frequently!”

Project Result: Sand Dam

Construction on this sand dam began on June 27th.

Construction took longer than usual. We had projected 15 days, but the group took 27 days to finish. They got a lot of community support and help from other self-help groups in the area. Parents with students from nearby schools chipped in and helped move materials to the construction site, since the schools will also benefit from the water source.

9 kenya4463 construction

The local materials needed for a sand dam project are sand, stones, and water. Stones were very far away, and so the community asked the local government to help transport the stones with vehicles. The stones they needed were eight kilometers away! This was the biggest challenge and delay. Also, the trench for the dam ended up being 10 feet deep, making the mobilization of even more local materials necessary halfway through the project. Victor Kauta, a farmer who helped with construction, was very happy when they finished. He shared, “We finally have an additional source of water! I can see more development in the area as the dam harvests more water.”

As the sand dam matures and builds up sand, dry land will be transformed into fertile land. Water will be naturally filtered by the sand, and the water table will rise. And once the dam is mature, the community will have more than enough water to package it for sales. With the money made, they will be able to take care of the dam and a hand-dug well being constructed adjacent to it (click here to see that project!). With these resources, the self-help group and the greater community can enjoy greater economic development and thus a better standard of living.

Thank You for joining our community to unlock hope and potential for the Matoma Nyumba Kumi Self-Help Group!

The Water Project : 19-kenya4463-finished-sand-dam

06/16/2016: Matoma Nyumba Kumi Sand Dam Project Underway

We are happy to announce that the Matoma Nyumba Kumi 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 attend a review of sanitation and hygiene practices they’ve learned about, 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.

Click the tabs above for all the details, and Thank You for your help!

The Water Project : 5-kenya4463-fetching-water

Explore More of The Project

Project Photos

Monitoring Data

Project Type:  Sand Dam
Location:  Makueni, Mumbuni
ProjectID: 4463
Install Date:  09/01/2016

Monitoring Data
Water Point:
Last Visit: 12/21/2017

Visit History:
12/06/2016 — Functional
06/05/2017 — Functional
09/06/2017 — Functional
12/21/2017 — Functional

A Year Later: Matoma Nyumba Kumi Sand Dam

December, 2017

The water from the sand dam has enabled me to make bricks for constructing my house, and I sold 500 at eight shillings each and I got a total of 4,000 shillings. I used the money to pay for my school fees.

A year ago, generous donors helped build a sand dam for the Matoma Nyumba Kumi Self-Help Group in Kenya. Because of these gifts and our monthly donors, partners are able to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the actual water project. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – we’re excited to share this one from our partners Boniface Mavindu and Titus Mbithi with you.

People used to walk four kilometers for two hours to find water. Once there, they’d spend up to three hours lined up to draw water. There has been such a significant change since the sand dam brought water near. Time that was initially wasted in search of water is now used for other economic activities like terracing farms.

Community members can now plant trees and know that they will survive the dry season. For every five trees planted, no more than one would survive. Currently, four out of five trees survive the dry season thanks to water from the sand dam.

A group member stands by the plants he’s been watering with water from the sand dam.

Agnes Kyengo is the treasurer for her self-help group, which means she also oversees any money raised for sand dam and well maintenance. She met with us at the dam to talk about how it’s changed her life. “Since this project was completed, people have been asking to join our group because of the benefits they have seen: they’ve seen water brought closer to home, and the various trainings and exchange visits that we have been exposed to are things they’d love to take part in. Fruit production has increased in the community because we have been in a position to water our fruit trees. Some have borne fruits while others are almost getting to the stage of bearing fruits, and we have been trained on grafting; soon we will be the leading suppliers of fruits in the region. Our income has increased as a result of practicing vegetable farming because we water the kale, spinach, and onions at our kitchen gardens using the water from the dam. We sell some of these vegetables to get money to pay school fees, buy clothes for our children and other needs. These vegetables are consumed by our families too, which helps improve our health. The meals have increased from two meals a day to three,” she shared.

Ngei Muthoka

We met 17-year-old Ngei Muthoka to hear his perspective. He said, “Since the project completion, my tree nursery has increased in production due to water availability. Of the 50 trees I planted, 45 have survived. I am grateful for this project, and I hope in the near future I will be earning income once I am out of school.

The water from the sand dam has enabled me to make bricks for constructing my house, and I sold 500 at eight shillings each and I got a total of 4,000 shillings. I used the money to pay for my school fees. My parents were happy because the money they were to pay for my school fees they used to meet other needs such as clothing my siblings.” But he continued by saying, “The water availability… is periodic, and at times we are forced to travel… to fetch water for both household use and watering tree nurseries.”

This young sand dam will continue to mature through the rainy seasons, building up sand and storing even more clean water, which will make the environment greener and lives healthier.

Most of our other southeastern Kenya projects are like this too; they are systems that need time to mature in order to provide clean, reliable water throughout drought. We look forward to this happening here, and are excited to monitor the transformation!

The Water Project and our partners are committed to consistent monitoring of each water source. Our monitoring and evaluation program, made possible by monthly donors, allows us to visit communities up to four times a year. Read more about our program and how you can help.


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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.