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Location: Kenya

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 250 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).

Because this sand dam is being constructed, another project is made possible in the same location. A shallow well is being dug which will only be a success because the sand dam will help raise the water table in the area. To see the hand-dug well project, click here.

Welcome to the Community

The group was formed in the year 2012. It has a membership of 18, comprised of 10 males and eight females.

As of a survey taken at the end of 2015, the average size of each group member’s household was five. 28% were of ages 20-40 years, while 57% were of the ages 40-55 years. 14% were of the age 55 years and above. Thus, this is fairly a mature group in terms of age, but they are still strong enough and able to execute heavy work such as building sand dams. The group is located in Kathuni Village which now has a population of 250 people.

The main socioeconomic activities for the group members include:

– 14% depend on causal labor. Causal labor is an activity where one engages on household-related jobs which are not always available. These jobs also depend on the season e.g. most causal labor happens during harvest time and planting season.

– 29 % are employed members of different professions e.g. teachers

– 14% operate small businesses

– the majority depend on farming

Agricultural Practice

Agriculture is the main livelihood of the community. As mentioned earlier, the majority of the community depends on agriclulture as the sole form of income for their families. The average size of a farm is 2.5 acres. ASDF projects will seek to empower the farmers to practice climate-smart agriculture which entails planting drought-tolerant seeds, planting trees and digging terraces to help keep soil from eroding and boost its fertility.

Yavili Self-Help Group is in its second year of project engagement through the support of ASDF and TWP. A sand dam that was constructed at the end of last year has already greatly served the community. Located in a hilly area, the group’s focus is to rehabilitate its various rivers and streams. The main streams provide water to the community, but as a result of human activity and deforestation upstream, the rivers began to dry. Coupled with sand harvesting, the riverbeds really began to dry up, forcing this community to travel a distance of three kilometers uphill to fetch water. They used their backs to bear the burden of this water since the terrain is too hilly and rocky for anything else.

The first sand dam has brought to life one of the main river channels, with water flowing ever since its construction last year. With water available, the community has started planting trees and vegetables. With more sand dams planned, the group is hoping to increase the amount of water available to meet the diverse needs of farms and households.

Objectives for this community include:

1. Improving the water security in the area by construction of one sand dam and one shallow well to serve a population of 250 people. This will help reduce the distance traveled and time taken to fetch water.

2. Improving on food security by promoting soil and water conservation. Farmers will be supported with terracing tools, trained on digging terraces and using climate-smart agriculture to boost their yields.

3. Increase knowledge on hygiene and sanitation practices through the training and implementation of PHAST. The group will be trained on basic PHAST (Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Training).

Sanitation Situation

Since this is the second year of community engagement, 100% of households have pit latrines. Thus, open defecation is not an issue. Over 75% of households have a dedicated bathing room for washing.

None of the households have a hand-washing station, but most have helpful tools like dish racks and clotheslines. The community seems to focus more on water treatment, such as boiling before drinking, but does not focus on personal hygiene.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

The self-help group members will be trained for two days on hygiene and sanitation. Based on our reassessment of the community, the facilitator will focus on personal hygiene. Disease  doesn’t spread just because of dirty water!

Plans: Sand Dam Construction

This new sand dam will greatly alleviate the burden currently on the first and only sand dam. At any given time of day, the lines at the water point are very long. Another sand dam will decrease the time it takes for many community members to fetch their water, and will greatly decrease the distance walked by those who live further away.

The community will provide the local resources available, such as sand, stone, and water. They will also assist in manual labor. This sand dam is projected to be 26.2 meters long and five meters high. Its location has been determined by the collaboration of both community and our engineers, ensuring that it is both convenient and technically sound.

Thank You for your generosity that makes this huge improvement possible!

Recent Project Updates

12/19/2017: A Year Later: Yavili Self-Help Group Sand Dam

A year ago, generous donors helped build a sand dam for the Yavili 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 partner Titus Mbithi with you.

The Water Project : dsc_0187

09/19/2016: Yavili Sand Dam Project Complete

We are very excited to report that, thanks to your willingness to help, the members of the Yavili 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 home, where it was most convenient for all. The schedule was organized in consultation with the group, so that the best time and place could ensure the best turnout.

Attendance was very good, with a representative of each household in the self-help group. Participants showed high interest in learning everything they could! Some of the main topics were chosen specific to the area:

– Personal hygiene

– Water treatment

– Water source protection and maintenance

– Waterborne and communicable disease transmission

The facilitator used demonstrations, group discussions, role-plays, lectures and illustrations to share this new information about how to live a healthy life.

By the end of training, the Yavili Self-Help Group had come up with an action plan to implement improvements such as hand-washing station, dish rack and latrine construction. They even had the opportunity to gather together and learn how to make a hand-washing station from materials they already have: a plastic container, ropes, and sticks.

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Micheal Mwania was one of the local farmers who participated in this training. She said, “I now understand that prevention of diseases caused by germs is more easy than treating the diseases. It’s the role of everyone to practice hygiene management for healthy communities.”

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Project Result: Sand Dam

Sand dam construction began on July 8th.

This process can be separated into four phases:

1. Mobilization of local resources such as stones, sand, ballast, and water: Stones were not easily accessible from this area – The community had to travel four kilometers away and transport them to their sand dam site. This process took more than two months, from April through June.

2. Trenching: This is digging deep into the river until the bedrock is reached. This provides a solid foundation for the sand dam. This step took a little over one week to complete.

3. Wall Construction: This didn’t take long since this dam is the self-help group’s second. They are experienced in building, and did so for 16 days.

4. Curing: Once cement is added to the wall, it must be left for three weeks to dry thoroughly.

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Margret Munyao, another farmer from the group, said “This is our second sand dam and so far our lives have changed. More water for us means healthier and happier lives.” This sand dam will unlock more opportunities for employment through horticultural farming. As the sand dam matures, it will build up sand that raises the water table and naturally filters its water. This drastically transforms the dry land into fertile land.

The group has partnered with the Ministry of Environment to ensure there is proper protection of their new sand dam and hand-dug well (click here to see that project). Through proper record keeping and the collection of small fees, the group will be able to properly upkeep their water source. A watchful eye will be kept on the riverbed to guard against anybody who would illegally harvest the sand.

Thank You for joining with the Yavili Self-Help Group to make water an accessible reality for all!

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07/13/2016: Yavili Sand Dam Project Underway

We are happy to announce that the Yavili 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:  Machakos, Kaani
ProjectID: 4467
Install Date:  09/01/2016

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

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

A Year Later: Yavili Sand Dam

December, 2017

But since the project implementation, access to water has become easy, providing clean water from a trusted source and from a short distance.

A year ago, generous donors helped build a sand dam for the Yavili 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 partner Titus Mbithi with you.

This sand dam has supported the community with water that has transformed the environment. It has brought clean water so much closer, from an initial seven kilometers away to under one kilometer. Thanks to the proximity of clean water, community members are able to spend more time earning an income and caring for their families.

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. Though community members were trained on water handling and water treatment, we’ve noticed that they would benefit from a review.

We met two community members at the dam when we visited; Mrs. Nduku Kyalo and 8-year-old Manzi Muthike, both who highlight their gratefulness for finally having water nearby.

The sand dam looms before Mrs. Kyalo, who is unlocking the hand-dug well. A community member must retrieve the key from the caretaker when they intend to fetch water.

Mrs. Kyalo said that she would practically “sleep in rivers looking for water! But since the project implementation, access to water has become easy, providing clean water from a trusted source and from a short distance.” Women like Mrs. Kyalo and children like Manzia are still the family members most responsible for water, and this change has made their lives much easier.

Mwanzia added, “Now we fetch water nearer to our home, I usually run to the well. It takes me less than ten minutes to get back home, compared to the initial one hour which used to be tiring!” Now that Mwanzia saves time and energy, he can apply that to his academic studies at school.

Field Officer Titus Mbithi interviewing Mwanzia.

And as this sand dam continues to mature through more rainy seasons, it will build up more sand and store even more clean water that makes the environment greener and human lives healthier.

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 - Cornvinus Trading ltd
Joonbug Logistics, Inc.
Sunshine Couriers, Inc.
SAP South MU
Data Abstract Solutions, Inc.
Lexington Trails Middle School
Alpha Mennonite Church
North Warren Regional School District
Damonte Ranch High School/International Club
St. Ann Altar Sodality
Daniels Middle School PTA
Rotary Ridgefield Sunrise
Hendersonville Middle School/Jr. Beta Club
Kingsley Area Schools
St. Ann Altar Sodality
South Shore Elementary School
The Hermosillo Family
Pine Mountain Middle School (Kennesaw, GA)
Oak Island Evangelical Presbyterian Church
DST Sorority DCP Alumnae
Multicultural Student Union
South Pontotoc Elementary School
Girl Scout 5631 Brownies
Ridgewood Public School
Gift in Honor of Diane Eaton, by Kaite and Adam
In Honor of Kayla Tan's Birthday
Response Church
Happy Birthday Judy
Christ Outreach Church Women of Faith
Pretty Littles co.
145 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.