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Location: Kenya

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 342 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

This area is high in the Mbooni Hills, well-known for its production of vegetables. However, the hilly and rocky terrain is a disadvantage to farmers who rely on farming as their main source of income. The Kithuani Self-Help Group was formed in 2014 with the purpose of supporting farmers and their family in the community. The group started with a total membership of 24 farmers. They had the following reasons for group formation:

– Provide a financial support system for farmers.

– Address the water problem: From July to September, this area suffers a severe water shortage. The group aims to build sand dams to solve this issue.

– Conserve the environment: The farmers work together to build terraces and plant more trees to prevent soil erosion.

As the group realized all the work to be done in their area, they requested the help of ASDF. Kithuani Self-Help Group is now in their second year of partnership, and has already completed one sand dam and hand-dug well in the area.

The Mbooni Hills area has a total population of 342, all of who are expected to benefit from a new sand dam.

Water Situation

Water has been a perennial challenge for this community. Before the Kithuani Self-Help Group built their first sand dam, it took at least one hour to walk to the nearest water source. Once there, long lines delayed children and women longer. Since then, the group has received support in building their first sand dam. This greatly reduced pressure at the water source, but more work still needs to be done. The first sand dam is still over one kilometer from some of the villagers, and so a water source is planned further along the river. This second sand dam will bring water close to that other part of the community. It will also alleviate the huge strain observed at the first sand dam.

A hand-dug well was also constructed adjacent to the first sand dam, giving people a simple and safe way to access water. Women are primarily responsible for fetching water. They carry 20-liter jerrycans either transported on a donkey or on their own backs. Once delivered home, water is dumped into larger 100 to 300-liter storage containers. The farther away from that first sand dam, the larger storage containers a household will have. This reduces the number of inconvenient trips the woman makes. However near or far a home is from the sand dam, fetching water takes too long. The sand dam and its hand-dug well are overused. It even attracts entrepreneurs from the local market who bottle water to sell.

Sanitation Situation

Since the community attended training last year, every single home in this area has a pit latrine. Though some of them are old, they are well-dug to an average depth of eight feet. The average number of people using each latrine is only six, so no pits are full yet. They all appeared to be very clean. Almost all of these homes also had a hand-washing station near the latrine. Around half of these families have dish racks and clotheslines to safely dry their things off the ground.

Homes here have two places for garbage. There is a disposal located in the home that is regularly emptied and separated between the rubbish pit and compost pit located out back. These compost pits help farmers on their farms, while the rubbish pit takes all non-biodegradable things.

We saw Peninah Nzome again, a mother who lives far from the current water source. She told us that “the lack of sufficient water sources in the area affects household hygiene. Without water, it is not easy to be healthy. Our houses and even children will not be clean because water is still a problem.” You can see pictures of Peninah fetching water and showing us her home under the “See Photos & Video” tab.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Review

Our visit proved that the community has been acting on what they learned during hygiene and sanitation training last year. They have made improvements to their latrines and added hand-washing stations. The trainer has noticed the improvements, but also improvements still needed. Based on this information, we will hold one day of review for Kithuani Self-Help Group. Emphasis will be on water treatment and health promotion. Group members learned a lot last year to the benefit of their own households, but they need to share with their neighbors who may not be part of the group.

Plans: Sand Dam

Good things always happen when people join together. This group’s unity of purpose combined with your support has helped to improve the water situation. With more water sources, outlooks change. Peninah Nzomo said, “We now have hope. With support, we will invest our efforts in changing our lives and those of communities to come.” The community has already gathered sand, stones, and ballast that will be used to construct this second sand dam. The dam is projected to be 30.2 meters long and 5.2 meters high. Once there is a second sand dam in the area, many women will save time both from a shortened trip and less lines at the first water source.

This sand dam will also transform lives by transforming the environment. As the dam builds up sand, it raises the water table. An extensive water table will provide the nourishment things need to grow. The area around the dam will become increasingly green, as more water is available for both plant and human. A hand-dug well is also planned adjacent to this sand dam, which will give locals another safe and accessible water point (click here to check out the progress on that hand-dug well).

Recent Project Updates

12/20/2017: A Year Later: Kithuani Sand Dam

A year ago, generous donors helped build a sand dam for the Kithuani 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.

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12/05/2016: Kithuani Sand Dam Project Complete

We are very excited to report that, thanks to your willingness to help, the members of the Kithuani 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 sand dam 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 group’s first sand dam. This was a spot where the group would come together for meetings, so it was the best location to get a good turnout. 80% of the self-help group ended up attending, with the other 20% sending notice of either illness or unavoidable obligations.

We taught how to control germs and sickness at the household level. For this topic, the community was sensitized about how germs spread and how to reduce the spread of germs. The community was also trained on how to maintain household hygiene by using dish racks, clotheslines, and compost pits. A focus of training was hand-washing and its importance. The trainer demonstrated how to wash hands, when to wash hands, and how to use soap. We taught participants how to make their own hand-washing station. The group was also trained on water treatment and how to handle water to keep it safe and clean for use.

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By the end of training, the group members had developed their own action plan that will guide them in implementing what they learned. For example, every household should have a latrine and hand-washing stations by a certain date. Mrs. Mutisya Kilundo said, “It was funny to see how people don’t wash hands after the toilet. I think the training will help us adopt good manners that influence our lives.”

The self-help group has also selected members to form a committee that will oversee the project’s management and maintenance.

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Project Result: Sand Dam

The construction process for Kithuan’s second sand dam began on October 11th. This happened simultaneous to the excavation of a hand-dug well which will give locals a safe method of drawing drinking water. As the sand dam matures and provides more water, more of that water will be accessible at the well. To see that project, click here.

Since the group had already built one sand dam, they had practice for what they need to do. However, collecting construction materials too longer than expected, especially sand. The harvesting of sand from main rivers is banned in southwestern Kenya. It took a lot longer than usual to get a permit from the local government. The actual building went by with no hitches, as other self-help groups from the area lent helping hands as well. This was especially helpful to the elderly majority of Kithuani’s group members. This part included trenching (digging down to the bedrock) and ended with building the wall itself. The sand dam was measured to be 5.2 meters high and 30.2 meters long.

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Mrs. Rebecca Kaloli supported her group throughout the month of construction. When they finished the work, she told us “We now have another water source which will change our lives and the lives of our children. When you come to visit next time, you will go back with vegetables!”

Kithuani is so proud of this huge accomplishment. Another group member told us, “We have achieved what very few communities have been able to achieve. We never walked long distances to fetch water after the impact of the first dam. Now that we have constructed the second dam, we feel that our efforts are enough and the work we have done will continue to impact lives. Though we still have other challenges in the community, we feel we have achieved enough impact. Our next step is to utilize the water!”

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10/03/2016: Kithuani Sand Dam Project Underway

We are happy to announce that the Kithuani 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 attend an important review session on hygiene and sanitation practices that they learned about last year. We just posted an initial report including information about the community, GPS coordinates, and pictures. We’ll keep you posted as the work continues.

Take a look under the tabs above, 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, Ingulyuni, Kithuani
ProjectID: 4470
Install Date:  12/05/2016

Monitoring Data
Water Point:
Last Visit: 12/21/2017

Visit History:
12/14/2016 — Functional
05/22/2017 — Functional
09/06/2017 — Functional
12/21/2017 — Functional

A Year Later: Kithuani Sand Dam

December, 2017

Life after this project has become very good because the distance to water points has decreased to less than a kilometer, and we use our time well. We have been able to run businesses, take care of our farms, and run our errands without stress.

A year ago, generous donors helped build a sand dam for the Kithuani 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.

People in this area have grown trees for betterment of the environment using water from this sand dam. The project has supported them with water for domestic use and also for watering their livestock. The community members have started irrigating their farms with this water, and some have planted kales, spinach, maize, yams, arrowroots and sweet potatoes. These kind of crops are highly nutritional, and once sold fetch a good income that is used to improve standards of living.

Mutheu Mutune gives a thumbs up after her interview with Anne Ngei.

Anne Ngei is the chairwoman who oversees this water point’s management and maintenance. She met us there to talk about the developments in her area since water came. “Life after this project has become very good because the distance to water points has decreased to less than a kilometer, and we use our time well. We have been able to run businesses, take care of our farms, and run our errands without stress. I planted kales, spinach and capsicum which I sold in the last two weeks at 1,200 shillings total.

The money I have used to pay for my granddaughter’s meals during the KCSE exams. The remaining money I am planning to use to buy fertilizer for my crops. I have planted sweet potatoes, which I use for breakfast twice a week in my family. They are very nutritious and we are grateful for the various trainings we have received. They have made me become proactive. My children are picking up after me and they are slowly starting to follow the things that I do, such as treating drinking water, terracing for soil conservation and washing hands after toilet among other things,” she shared.

Diana pumping water for Anne Ngei. This sand dam makes water available in the adjacent well.

13-year-old Diana Mwende added that she and her family “have established a garden which we water every day and currently our home is beautiful and appealing. I used to see beautiful gardens in other people’s homes but the project has enabled us to have one. As a family, we have vegetables at our home which substitutes other types of food.”

Kithuani Self-Help Group is hardworking, and they have seen the benefits of this sand dam and are using it to its fullest potential. They’ve been preventing soil erosion by digging terraces and planting cover crops, which also help to hold water in the soil.

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.