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Location: Kenya

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 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 Masola Kaani Self-Help Group was formed in the year 2011 and is now comprised of 47 households. The main reason for forming the group was to bolster the economic prosperity of its members. These families live in one of the most densely populated areas of Makueni, which has a total population of 3000 people. (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 site would make a great location for a second project. To learn more, click here.) Originally, the area was famous for its massive production of vegetables, thanks to the River Ikiwe that could provide enough water for many crops. The group’s priority was to increase the harvest of vegetables so they could sell more and earn more. However, in the last three years, drastic changes have happened.

Their main source of water, River Ikiwe, has eroded and no longer provides water throughout the year. This has affected the availability of water for farming, for domestic use and other household water requirements. Many of the people that had been employed on vegetable farms have now been rendered jobless, and many families struggle to meet their daily income needs. Longer queues at the water points and higher prices for buying drinking water have become normal experiences. A jerrycan of water (20 liters) costs 30 shillings during the dry season, a price which many households cannot afford. By coming together, the group hopes to harvest rainwater through construction of several sand dams along the river channel. These will be used to provide water for all their household and agricultural needs, and restore the jobs that were lost.

The community was selected after several meetings with an ASDF officer. The meetings were meant to analyze the major problems the group faces, and what measures to put in place to solve those identified problems. The main problem that came up was water; people need much more water for household and farming purposes. We have decided to support the Masola Kaani Self-Help Group for a period of five years during which we will identify what type and how many more projects we will undertake together.

Water Situation

Locals prefer to get their water from the river by digging scoop holes along the eroded bank until they hit water. Water is only found two to three months after the rainy season though. Women will take ox-pulled carts or donkeys to help them carry multiple jerrycans of water. These water containers are rarely cleaned because of the water shortage. Any water that is poured into these containers is priority for drinking and farming, not for cleaning.

Once home, water is either stored in the same jerrycans or is poured into other reservoirs with a larger capacity which families use to help limit the trip to the river. Since the river is a little over one kilometer from the center of the village, certain days are set aside for water-fetching trips, namely Thursdays and Saturdays. On Saturdays when children are not in school, they can help their parents fetch enough water for the rest of the week.

Locals are a bit concerned that the water is contaminated since it flows through the major town of Machakos, and reports are that industrial waste has been allowed to pollute the water.

Benjamin Mutua, a self-help group member and farmer attests that, “the river which is the main source of water for the community is polluted. The water has a funny smell and we no longer depend on it for drinking. Cases of waterborne diseases have been reported from continued use of this water.”

The community now relies on buying water from private boreholes or packaged water.

Sanitation Situation

All of the self-help group’s households have a pit latrine. They are well-constructed with deep pits and are kept very clean. Because of these great conditions, open defecation is not an issue in this area. Over 75% of households have good bathing rooms and other helpful tools like dish racks and clotheslines. Around ten hand-washing stations were seen during our initial visit.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

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

Plans: Sand Dam Construction

The site for the sand dam was determined by the community and affirmed by our expert opinion. The coordinators examined the level of bedrock and the stability of the river banks to hold the dam, while the community shared its perspectives on convenience and accessibility.

This dam will be the biggest that ASDF has ever built (over 1200 bags of cement!). It is projected to be 75.6 meters long and five meters high. The self-help group is also working on a hand-dug well adjacent to the sand dam (click here to see that project!). The community hopes to construct complimentary reservoir tanks in a raised area in order to pump water closer to homes. This will require much more planning with the logistics needed e.g electricity, water pumps, and pipelines. This sand dam is inspiring the community to look forward and plan for a better future!

Recent Project Updates

08/17/2016: Masola Kaani Sand Dam Project Complete

We are very excited to report that, thanks to your willingness to help, the members of the Masola Kaani 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

The group decided on a training location that would be convenient for everybody, the group chairman’s homestead. After consulting the farmers to find out which days they’d be least busy, we decided on three consecutive days. These hygiene and sanitation sessions attracted a total of 33 out of the 47 self-help group members.

The facilitator used lecture materials, demonstrations, group discussions, and onsite training to teach the basics of hygiene and sanitation. Over the course of our five-year program with Masola Kaani, trainings can become more advanced and build on these basics. There wasn’t just a session on washing hands, but also on how to build a place to do it! Check out the pictures that show a tippy tap – a hand-washing station that is built out of a jerrycan, rope, and sticks.

11 kenya4464 tippy tap

By the end of the three days, the members agreed on a plan to start implementing sanitation improvements, such as building pit latrines, hand-washing stations, dish racks, and clotheslines. These helpful tools will prevent communicable disease, while the new water source will help prevent waterborne disease. Training participants also learned about water treatment methods, giving them knowledge on how to further prevent all waterborne disease. The self-help group also voted on specific members who make up a committee responsible for managing and protecting this sand dam and the hand-dug well installed adjacent to it (check out the progress on that project!).

Farmer and group member Makua Mbevo said, “This training has opened y eyes to see that disease prevention is as easy as just washing hands.”

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Project Result: Sand Dam

Construction on Masola Kaani’s sand dam began on May 23rd. The community worked for 38 days, a total of eight hours a day! This manual labor was grueling, but community members were ambitious and hopeful about how this sand dam would transform their lives.

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The dam took over one month to build because it is the largest we have ever completed. It took 1200 bags of cement! We anticipated that for a project of this large scale, there would certainly be delays. However, the youthfulness and drive of this large group pouring themselves into this work resulted in the dam being finished early! The dam is six meters high and 75.6 meters long.

Local teacher Regina Musau also has great hope in this sand dam. He believes, “This structure will solve the perennial water challenges of the present county and generations to come! It’s a product of our efforts and unity as a community.” The sand dam will take about three seasons of rain to fully mature and transform the surrounding environment into fertile land.

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07/13/2016: Masola Kaani Sand Dam Project Underway

We are happy to announce that the Masola Kaani 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.

Click the tabs above to learn more, and Thank You for your help!

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Explore More of The Project

Project Photos

Monitoring Data

Project Type:  Sand Dam
Location:  Machakos, Kaani
ProjectID: 4464
Install Date:  08/17/2016

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

Visit History:
12/13/2016 — Functional
07/12/2017 — Functional
09/06/2017 — Functional
12/20/2017 — Functional

A Year Later: Masola Kaani Sand Dam

December, 2017

The environment is very green and serene indicating that the people have utilized the water well.

A year ago, generous donors helped build a sand dam for the Masola Kaani Self-Help Group in Machakos County in Kenya. Because of these gifts and the contributions of 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 Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF) partners, Mutheu Mutune and Titus Mbithi, with you.

Masola Kaani has experienced much transformation and benefit since the installation of the sand dam.  Mwendwa Mumo, a student within the community (age 12), shares, “Before, the distance was very far and I used to dread going home after school because it was a routine that I go fetch water. I would return very late and tired which affected my concentration in class the following morning. That is a thing of the past now. I get home and find that my mother has already cooked supper for us so I just eat and do my homework then take a bath and sleep.”

And thanks to the surplus of water this sand dam provides, the adjacent well is able to pump drinking water from the catchment area.

Mwendwa Mumo pumping water from the hand-dug well adjacent to this sand dam.

The community has seen transformation in the area with increased access to water.  Many in the community, like Damaris Mumbua, have been able to plant crops of maize, kale, and fruit trees to provide food for the family and to also sell as cash crops. Mutheu Mutune observes the changes that she has seen in her work in Masola Kaani, stating, “The environment is very green and serene indicating that the people have utilized the water well.” Water access enables everything from brick-making to animal husbandry to improved farming and health.

Damaris Mumbua sharing how having water nearby has changed her life.

However, this is also a community that has witnessed water issues that are beyond the control of the community itself. Joseph Kioko, the communications officer for ASDF reports, “There’s a sewerage system that’s channeled to the river from Machakos town which needs to be redirected elsewhere.” This sewer system is a threat to the water quality in Masola Kaani and ASDF is working to link the group with the department of public health at Machakos county government so that they can address the issue jointly, as it poses a threat to health of people accessing their drinking water from the river. In addition, ASDF conducts water tests so that each community is aware of the quality of water at their source.

Masola Kaani is a good example of the importance of long term relationships between ASDF and the communities that they serve, so that through monitoring and evaluation these communities can address issues such as this one with the resources of ASDF, The Water Project, and donors like you. ASDF keeps working until the community has reliable, safe drinking water.  We are excited to stay in touch with this community and report back more positive stories.

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 4 times a year. Read more about our program and how you can help.


Project Underwriter - Lars Callieou and Friends
Joonbug Logistics, Inc.
Jody Richards Elementary PTO
Dean Ambrose and his 5th Grade Class at New Canaan Country School
Jade Holmes and Alexandria Bradshaw (Pin Drop)
American International School Accra, Ghana
The 4th Day of Grace
The Hermosillo Family
Aliya and Aiyana H.
In Honor of Roger Hailstone
American International School Accra, Ghana
Bettie Weaver
Deneen Family
The Catching Force
Lynn Tran, Quang Sang Tran, Denny B. Tang, Clarence Tan, Ali Talpur, and Anastasiya Trachenko
Northwest Christian Church, Upper Arlington, OH
Spirit Lake High School
121 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.