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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 Itatini Self-Help Group was formed in the year 2012. It has a membership of 37 different households that come from three different villages: Mukimwani Village, Kivani Village, and Katitu Village. The total population from all three of the villages is about 1400. The villages are located in Mukimwani Sub-Location which had a population 5202 people as of last year. The area is one of the most densely-populated areas and thus has a massive water shortage. (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 community would be a good candidate for a second project in the future so adequate water is available. To learn more, click here.)


As of a 2015 survey, the main socio-economic activities for the group members include:

– 16% depend on causal labour. Causal labour is an activity where one engages on household related jobs which are not frequently available. They also depend on the season e.g. most causal labour happens during harvest time and planting season.

– 10 % are employed members in different professionals e.g. teachers

– 66 % of the group depend on farming

– 6% operate small businesses.

Agricultural Practices

Agriculture is the livelihood for the community. ASDF works to empower farmers in practicing climate-smart agriculture which entails planting drought-tolerant seeds, planting trees, and digging terraces to help keep soil from eroding and boost soil fertility. These practices  improve the harvests of the farmers.

Water Situation

Itatini Self-Help Group’s first sand dam was constructed at the end of 2015. The 2015 sand dam has only caught one rainfall, and needs one more before it is fully matured. This means that the community still doesn’t have sufficient water to meet all of their agricultural needs, but looks forward to it in the future. People are accessing water from scoop holes they dig by the sand dam, because the shallow well constructed alongside the dam is still surrounded by water. Once enough sand builds up, locals will be able to get to the well and pump water that is naturally filtered by the dam’s sand. This first sand dam has reduced the water shortage, and prolonged rains have resulted in the sand dam harvesting water and building up sand to mature faster. However, another sand dam and shallow well are still needed to reduce the two kilometers traveled by some community members living further out.

In order to ensure equitable access of water for the large population, the community has decided to build several sand dams and shallow wells along the main river channels to ensure that all members have a fair distance to travel for water. This second sand dam is now being constructed which will follow the maturity process as outlined above, building up sand and raising the water table to create a natural, sustainable, filtered water source that is accessed from a water well! (Take a look at the adjacent hand-dug well project here!)

Sanitation Situation

Since this is the second year of intervention with this self-help group, members have already attended hygiene and sanitation training. 100% of households have pit latrines that are well-ventilated, dug to no less than 15 feet, and are very clean. With these great conditions, open defecation isn’t an issue anymore.  All of the households have useful tools like dish racks and clotheslines to dry belongings. Farmers have also been taught about composting, so each household has a large pit for compostable waste and a smaller one for garbage.

Most community members have at least received a basic education, providing them with a little knowledge on hygiene and sanitation. Even though training was conducted last year, minimal emphasis is put on practices like hand-washing and water treatment.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

The refresher hygiene and sanitation training will be held for two days in the community. Self-help group members will share their schedules so that the most convenient time can be agreed on, and everyone will be alerted ahead of time. After our recent check-in with the community, the facilitator has decided to focus on the topics of hand-washing and water treatment.

Plans: Sand Dam Construction

The sand dam is projected to be 62 meters long and 2.9 meters high. The best location was agreed upon by the community, and we verified that there is sufficient bedrock for dam stability.

Itatini Self-Help Group has inspired other groups in the area by their hard work and success so far. Many members of the community who are not in self-help groups have been encouraged to start the registration process. Itatini is a role model to these new groups, and they plan to do more dams in different areas of their villages to ensure that all water needs are met.

Recent Project Updates

12/19/2017: A Year Later: Itatini Self-Help Group

A year ago, generous donors helped build a sand dam for the Itatini 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 partners Mutheu Mutune, Joe Kioko and Titus Mbithi with you.

The Water Project : 4465-yar-3

09/19/2016: Itatini Sand Dam Project Complete

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

Hygiene and sanitation training was held at a group member’s homestead, located in an area convenient to all self-help group members. The group’s committee and each member was notified that they should come to agreement on the best days for training to ensure a good turnout. A total of 50 group members ended up attending! There were even some neighbors who hadn’t yet joined the group, but were interested in learning, possibly joining, and being part of the process.

The training facilitator decided to focus on topics specific to this community:

  • Disease transmission paths
  • Water treatment
  • Personal hygiene and hand-washing

Check out the pictures of the hand-washing station the participants learned how to construct! A temporary station can be made with only a plastic container, rope, and sticks.

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The community worked together to come up with an implementation plan that would see to the construction of hand-washing stations, dish racks, latrines, and other tools that will enhance hygiene. Since this is a five-year engagement plan, we will be able to check up on their progress over the following years.

Mrs. Jane Sammy attended all of the training sessions and shared, “The acquired knowledge will be used to help us live healthy lives and avoid falling sick more often. I will make sure that I used soap each time before handling meals!”

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Project Result: Sand Dam

The construction process began on May 1st.

The only challenge faced was the occasional rain that delayed construction; not because people couldn’t work in the rain, but because they preferred to take advantage of the rain back on their farms. Immediately after the rains cleared, the farmers continued their manual labor at the dam.

Construction was well-managed by the group, who gathered all of the necessary materials in advance. They gathered sand, water, and rocks. Next, the group began digging the trench for the dam up to a total depth of seven feet, where they hit bedrock. The digging took three days.

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Next, the group built up the dam wall, which took two full weeks to complete. They left the structure to rest for three weeks so that the cement could fully dry.

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After experiencing the impact of the first sand dam further south in their area, the group was extremely motivated to complete this second one. Gladys Mutinda was one of these motivated workers, saying “The water from the sand dam will be used for farming. We want to grow vegetables which we will sell and consume in order to have healthy bodies!”

The finished dam was measured to be 2.9 meters high and 62 meters long. It is projected to need two rainy seasons to build up sand for full maturity. The sand that collects behind the dam will raise the water table and naturally filter that water. Farmers will dig holes to fetch more water for their crops and livestock, and mothers and children will fetch their own drinking water from the hand-dug well that was installed adjacent to the sand dam (see that project, here!).

Thank You for unlocking the potential to improve and develop for farmers and families of the Itatini Self-Help Group.

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07/13/2016: Itatini Sand Dam Project Underway

We are happy to announce that the Itatini 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 on 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:  Makueni, Mbumbuni Village
ProjectID: 4465
Install Date:  09/01/2016

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

Visit History:
12/15/2016 — Functional
05/22/2017 — Functional
09/08/2017 — Functional
12/20/2017 — Functional

A Year Later: Itatini Sand Dam

November, 2017

This has transformed our environment and our children never lack food or even basic needs because we sell the farm products and get money.

A year ago, generous donors helped build a sand dam for the Itatini 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 partners Mutheu Mutune, Joe Kioko and Titus Mbithi with you.

This sand dam has supported the community with water that has transformed the environment. Most of the community members living in this area have planted trees, which further conserve the environment. Time that was initially wasted looking for water is now used for income-generating activities. Livestock no longer lack drinking water and die during the dry months. Washing clothes is made easy due to the soft water from the project.

And thanks to the surplus of water this sand dam provides, the adjacent well is able to pump clean, safe water from the catchment area. Community members were trained on how to take care of their drinking water, and since then, minimal cases of waterborne diseases have been reported. The land is truly changing from brown to green.

Justina and her husband pumping water at the well adjacent to the oasis this sand dam has created.

Justina Pius, the chairwoman overseeing this water project, had a lot to say. “The project has supported us through growing vegetables, and even the non self-help group members use the flowing water to irrigate their farms. This has transformed our environment and our children never lack food or even basic needs because we sell the farm products and get money. Our vegetables survive for long, unlike before. This project has enlightened us on income-generating activities… I had planted kales, spinach, pumpkins, onions and maize and income from these crop sales have enabled me to clear the school fee balance for my children! My family never lacks food to eat and we take three meals a day, unlike before when food was very scarce due to erratic rainfall. The environment has also changed and we hope to see it change [more] in the next few years.”

Justina Pius proudly stands amidst all of the vegetables she’s planted since the sand dam’s completion.

Her daughter Mwongeli told us, “I have become more clean and healthier because of the water available for washing my clothes and bathing. Before we used to be dirty because we could skip days without even taking a bath due to lack of water but now the water is usually available all year long. My self-esteem has improved because I am usually clean. Even my school uniform is usually clean!”

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.


Project Underwriter - Elizabeth Crowell
South Pontotoc Elementary School
Sigma Alpha Sorority at UGA
Solomon's Porch Sunday School Class
Coops For A Cause
Fremont Magnet
Project 3-30 by Clay, Nirvana, and Amy
Holy Trinity Episcopal Church Women
Visvero, Inc.
Tias Water Wish.
Dickinson Gators
85 individual donor(s)

Want to start your own campaign? Learn more »

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.