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Location: Kenya

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 450 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

Mbindi Self-Help Group is a new group formed in the year 2015 by a total of 27 households. The group is concerned about how to improve social well-being of its members. Its main activities included merry-go-rounds (contribute funds set aside for the group’s needs) and soil conservation at each member’s farm. However, the community’s efforts towards planting trees have not been fruitful — severe water shortages in the area affect the establishment of nurseries.

The main water sources began to dry up and could not provide water for this community with a large population of 800. The riverbeds are bone dry and the protected springs located four kilometers away are no longer reliable.

“We used to sleep at the water point due to long lines and depleted recharging of wells,” reported one group member during our baseline surveys. The community, with the help of their neighbors from Yavili Self-Help Group (click here to see a project by Yavili!), approached ASDF staff to seek assistance in alleviating their huge water shortage.

The water shortage issue will be tackled head-on by a five-year program to build sand dams, dig wells and educate the community.

Water Situation

This community is located in a fairly hilly terrain which is also densely populated. The main water sources are natural springs. Due to the growth in population, the vegetation surrounding the springs has been destroyed, hence affecting the recharge rate of the springs.

Thus, community members must form a line to wait for their water. Moreover, they are waiting for water from unprotected springs that are open to contamination. Most of this contamination comes from people around the spring themselves, but it also comes with the rain that washes waste into the water.

Women normally use 20-liter jerrycans to fetch water for their families. They will either carry this container on their backs, or will bring a donkey that can carry multiple jerrycans. Once home, a woman like Muli Mutisos will consolidate all of this water into a larger plastic barrel (see Muli and her homestead in the pictures below!).

Because of the hurdles when fetching water, people are willing to pay a price. Many young people have dropped out of school to fetch water to sell.

Alternatively, there are some private boreholes in the community that allow neighbors to pay 40 shillings per 20-liter jerrycan of water. This is unaffordable for many families.

Local farmer Boniface Waita says that “During the driest months of the year, fetching water becomes a very expensive activity. We miss cooking meals that require a lot of water, since water is expensive. It’s a challenge especially to families who do not have steady incomes.”

Many members of this community view clear water as safe water, and thus do not practice any form of water treatment.

Sanitation Situation

100% of households have a pit latrine, though shallow. Many of these are in smelly and dirty condition. Nonetheless, open defication is not an issue.

All of the households have a dedicated room for bathing, and over 75% of them have helpful tools like dish racks and clotheslines. There are no hand-washing stations, though.

Since locals rely on farming, they view composting as very important. Waste is disposed in a pit at the back of each compound.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

Self-help group members will be trained for two days on hygiene and sanitation. Based on our initial survey of the area, the facilitator has decided to focus on water treatment and personal hygiene.

Plans: Sand Dam

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 37.1 meters long and 4.1 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. The site also has a large catchment area that will provide for more water storage. The self-help group is also building a hand-dug well that will give locals safe access to this reservoir (click here to see the project page).

Thank You for your generosity that unlocks hope for Mbindi Self-Help Group and their families! 

Recent Project Updates

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

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

The Water Project : 4468-yar-1

09/28/2016: Mbindi Sand Dam Project Complete

We are very excited to report that, thanks to your willingness to help, the members of the Mbindi 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 the self-help group chairman’s household. The group decided on the dates best for them, when they would be least busy on their farms. Once dates were decided on, invitations were extended to each member. A total of 26 out of the 27 group members were in attendance for the three days of training.

The training facilitator used pictures, posters, demonstrations, lectures, role plays, and group discussions to teach the following sessions: Mapping Water and Sanitation in the Community, Good and Bad Behaviors and Practices, How Disease is Spread, Blocking the Spread of Disease, Choosing Disease Barriers, Choosing Sanitation Improvements (building hand-washing stations, latrines, dish racks, and clotheslines), Choosing Improved Health Behaviors (buying soap, treating water, brushing teeth, etc.).

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Through the three days of training, we were able to identify areas of improvement among the members and their families. We then drafted a schedule for implementing viable improvements within the community, such as digging latrines and building hand-washing stations. The group also identified individuals to form a committee responsible for oversight, management, and maintenance of the sand dam and its adjacent hand-dug well (click here to check out that project).

Group members were very happy with the hygiene and sanitation foundation that was established, and look forward to building on that in the coming four years of partnership. Regina Mutuku, a training participant said, “It was a funny training. From roles plays used I realized not all people do the basic activities of hygiene like hand-washing. I really enjoyed and learnt a lot!”

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Project Result: Sand Dam

Construction for the Mbindi Sand Dam began on April 20th.

This kind of project is undertaken in three stages:

1. The first stage is the mobilization of materials, such as stones and sand. The community spent six to eight hours for two days a week to transport these local materials to the sand dam site. This took one month.

2. Stage two is for digging the trench down to the bedrock so that the sand dam can have a solid foundation. It took two weeks of digging to reach that bedrock.

3. The third stage is for erecting the sand dam itself. Building up the wall took over two weeks with the community working every day.

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The sand dam is measured to be 4.1 meters high and 37.1 meters long. There were no delays or challenges during this project because the group was well-prepared and motivated to complete their first project.

Member Anna Musyoka supported her group through each process, and was extremely grateful to see its success. She told us, “The sand dam will help us to avoid the long trips we make to fetch water. We will use the water to plant vegetables and improve our health through eating of these vegetables.”

The sand dam 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.

Thank You for supporting Mbindi Self-Help Group and their dream to give accessible, clean water to everyone in their community.

The Water Project : 18-kenya4468-finished-sand-dam

Explore More of The Project

Project Photos

Monitoring Data

Project Type:  Sand Dam
Location:  Machakos, Mbindi
ProjectID: 4468
Install Date:  09/07/2016

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

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

A Year Later: Mbindi Sand Dam

December, 2017

The project has enabled us to establish a tree nursery with almost 700 trees which we will sell towards the short rains and the income we will use to establish another nursery and cater for other family activities.

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

Even though it’s only been a year, many things have changed since the installation of this sand dam. The distance to water has greatly decreased from three kilometers to less than a kilometer for every single member of Mbindi Self-Help Group. The water has enabled them to establish a tree nursery where they have planted fruit trees such as avocado, mango, pawpaw, and timber. Once these trees mature and start bearing fruit, this community will be one of the only suppliers of fruit to the local market. The fruits will also be consumed at the family level, boosting their health and nutrition. The project has helped them establish vegetable plots at their homes, which provide them with various vegetables such as kales, sukuma wiki, capsicum, tomatoes ,and so on. The number of meals taken per day has increased from two to three for many families.

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

Two young ladies fetch water at Mbindi’s hand-dug well during our visit there.

We met Regina Kilonzo and her son, 17-year-old David Kilonzo, to talk about how their lives have changed.

Mrs. Kilonzo said, “We are thankful and grateful for this project, because things like diseases have reduced and we can now afford three meals a day which come from our small plots in our home. We plant sweet potatoes which we use for breakfast, vegetables which we consume and even sell at the local market or to our neighbors. We were also trained on hygiene and sanitation and how our personal hygiene is important, and this has helped us as a community. The nearby children have improved in terms of hygiene and they all look healthy. I won’t fail to mention the improved performance for my children, who no longer waste time going to fetch water but rather utilize the time to read and do their homework.”

Mrs. Kilonzo proudly stands in front of all of the things she’s planted for kitchen use.

David Kilonzo added his own story, saying “After I finished my primary school last year, my parents didn’t have enough money to send me to a technical school. I decided to start farming using water from the project, and I managed to grow spinach, kales and tomatoes. These vegetables we used to consume at home with my family and better yet, I could sell. I got 1,500 shillings, which I saved and bought seedlings for planting next time. Our nutrition has improved and we no longer lack food to eat. My mother used to borrow food from neighbors, but ever since the project came here we plant things like cassava, sweet potatoes and such type of crops which are highly nutritional and we are now a healthy family. I am hoping that the next vegetable farming I’ll do will give me a good income for my school fees and also for supporting my siblings. The project has enabled us to establish a tree nursery with almost 700 trees which we will sell towards the short rains and the income we will use to establish another nursery and cater for other family activities. The tree survival rate compared to before has improved, and the environment generally has improved. I also made bricks which I hope to start constructing my own house soon!”

Field Officer Mutheu Mutune interviews David Kilonzo.

This community has used their nearby water source for farming and planting trees to the fullest extent. They have dug terraces for their farming land, which they were trained to do. This has helped them conserve their soil and water in general. The yields from their farms have improved, and they are expected to improve even more as time goes by.

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.