Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2016

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/15/2024

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).

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!

We're just getting started, check back soon!

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!

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.

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Kaani Community 1A.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kaani Community 1A maintain access to safe, reliable water. Together, they keep The Water Promise.

We’re confident you'll love joining this world-changing group committed to sustainability!

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.

Navigating through intense dry spells, performing preventative maintenance, conducting quality repairs when needed and continuing to assist community leaders to manage water points are all normal parts of keeping projects sustainable. The Water Promise community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kaani Community 1A maintain access to safe, reliable water.

We’d love for you to join this world-changing group committed to sustainability.

The most impactful way to continue your support of Kaani Community 1A – and hundreds of other places just like this – is by joining our community of monthly givers.

Your monthly giving will help provide clean water, every month... keeping The Water Promise.


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
Data Abstract Solutions, Inc.
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
120 individual donor(s)