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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

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.

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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: 09/06/2017

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


Project Sponsor - Jadetree Foundation

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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.