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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 Kwa Mutunga Self-Help Group is located in Ngomano, Makueni County. Their community is located in one of the driest parts of the county, on land that was initially used for a ranch. Because of a rapidly changing climate, their water sources have since dried up. Food shortage and water scarcity here has affected thousands of households. They haven’t seen rain in the last years, further burdening the already poor communities whose income is solely dependent on farming and livestock.

Because of these dire circumstances, the people of Maukeni County have been the recipients of many different water projects from different organizations. However, many of these projects now sit unused. Boreholes have dried up, and pumps have sat unrepaired. Three boreholes were drilled, but only one works now and then. Unfortunately, the well that functions is the one farthest away from community members. Thus, it still takes many women and children an average of four to five hours each day to fetch enough water for their families.

This area is home to 800 people, and we estimate that 500 people will benefit from this new water source. (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.)

Water Situation

People in this area have one borehole, some unprotected wells, and groundwater for their water sources. The population here is large and expansive. Since such a large population relies on only a few water points, the lines to fetch water are extremely long. Moreover, water from the existing wells is sold at an average of five shillings per container. Many farmers here cannot afford that price to water their large amount of cattle, and sometimes the goats go for days without water. This leads to huge economic losses for farmers.

A majority of families will choose to fetch their water from the riverbed, where it’s free. Different scoop holes will be dug according to use. Some are set aside for cattle, and the others for human consumption. People here don’t care much about having good quality water for their animals or household use, but make sure to reserve the cleanest-looking water for drinking.

Once delivered home, water is also kept in separate containers based on use. Drinking water is stored in covered clay pots up off the ground, and water for cleaning and for animals is kept on the ground in plastic jerrycans.

We met Rhoda Wambua, a mother and a farmer who has suffered from these conditions. Her picture can be seen under the “See Photos & Video” tab. She told us, “We have suffered because of lack of clean drinking water. We are drinking water which is colored and smelly, and many are afraid of getting sick from continued use of such water.”

Sanitation Situation

This is the second year we’ve worked with the Kwa Mutunga Self-Help Group, so they’ve had time to implement improvements. Every single household here has a pit latrine, and almost every family has a room dedicated for personal hygiene. More than half of homes have hand-washing stations either outside of the latrine or kitchen.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Review

The group will meet for two days to review what they’ve learned about hygiene and sanitation. After visiting many of their homes in person, we decided to focus on hand-washing with them again. Last year during training, the group made an action plan that included the construction of hand-washing stations. The group cannot reach that goal until every single home has a place to wash hands.

Plans: Sand Dam

We worked with the community to determine the best location for their sand dam. They all agreed on the most accessible point for everybody. Kwa Mutunga’s sand dam will bring more water to both people and the environment. The sand dam will raise the water table and transform the land, making it fertile for farming. With the ongoing installation of a hand-dug well (click here to view that project), water from this sand dam can be safely used for drinking.

Recent Project Updates

12/19/2017: A Year Later: Kwa Mutunga Self Help Group Sand Dam

A year ago, generous donors helped build a sand dam for the Kwa Mutunga 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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12/15/2016: Kwa Mutunga Sand Dam Project Complete

We are very excited to report that, thanks to your willingness to help, the members of the Kwa Mutunga 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 reviewed and learned more about 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 a group member’s homestead. We worked with these farmers to schedule the best time and place to ensure their full participation. This was especially important since a short rainy season was quickly approaching, making it a critical time for farming activities. Because of these preparations, the sessions were well attended. Some members even came with writing pads to take notes!

The main topics we covered were:

– How to prevent the spread of germs

– Common diseases and germ routes

– Water hygiene: types of treatment

– Using the latrine

– Proper waste disposal

– Building sanitation facilities (dish racks and clotheslines)

– Hand-washing and how to build a hand-washing station

3 kenya4471 training

The trainers used lectures, demonstrations, group discussions, and presentations to teach the above topics and many more! The sessions were successful; the self-help group developed an action plan that will be used to implement everything they learned. Latrines, dish racks, clotheslines, compost pits, and hand-washing stations will all be built. The self-help group has also selected members to form a committee that will oversee the project’s management and maintenance.

Mr. Jonathan Kioko was one of the grateful farmers who learned a lot during these sessions. He told us, “We have learnt that without clean water, we will always be sick. It is important to treat all our drinking water before taking it. I now understand that clear water may not necessarily be clean water.”

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Project Result: Sand Dam

Construction for this sand dam began on September 12th.

The entire process took longer than expected, because the rainy weather attracted farmers to their fields. With only a few sets of hands, gathering all of the sand, stones, and water needed for construction took a long time. Then they undertook the trenching, which required them to dig down to the bedrock. This took a total of 20 days.

7 kenya4471 construction

There was a huge water shortage which delayed construction. Water is required for mixing cement, so community members walked up to 10 kilometers away to fetch enough water (that’s why this project is so important)! The actual mixing couldn’t even start until midday. Finally, the county government recognized the construction challenges and stepped in to provide transportation services for the group.

There were even more challenges on top of this. While the county government was supportive, the local leadership was not. Local leaders discouraged the group from working, telling them that other organizations that help with these types of projects pay the community members. He said that if we didn’t pay them wages, then they shouldn’t take the month to work on this water source. This was another reason a lot of the farmers didn’t show up to help. Nevertheless, we did our part to encourage the community that working with us to build a sand dam would pay for itself by bringing water to the area.

11 kenya4471 finished sand dam

Sand dam construction was simultaneous to construction 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.

The sand dam is now complete, and measures 4.3 meters high and 23.9 meters long.

Mrs. Mwikali Mutuku was one of the farmers who understood the importance of this sand dam. “We have really struggled to have the water point ready. Though few took part in the construction, we are hopeful that many will continue to benefit from the project,” she said.

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10/25/2016: Kwa Mutunga Sand Dam Project Underway

We are happy to announce that the Kwa Mutunga 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, Ngomano
ProjectID: 4471
Install Date:  12/15/2016

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

Visit History:
06/04/2017 — Functional
09/06/2017 — Functional
12/21/2017 — Functional

A Year Later: Kwa Mutunga Sand Dam

December, 2017

We have planted vegetables at our homes which have improved nutrition for our families and they also fetch good income for buying other basic needs like clothes and paying school fees.

A year ago, generous donors helped build a sand dam for the Kwa Mutunga 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 here used to have to travel to Kikuu River which is four hours one way. Now, people living in this area have their own sand dam that draws other people living as far as three kilometers away. The water is safe for drinking, which has particularly benefitted their livestock. There used to be so little water available that livestock would die during the dry seasons.

People were trained on how to take care of their drinking water and since then, they have been seeing minimal cases of waterborne diseases. The project has now been supplying them with water throughout the year so that children are cleaner and the environment is greener.

Though there is a hand-dug well, people still use scoop holes in the riverbed to get water for cleaning and watering livestock.

We met self-help group member Scholastica Kyalo, who told us “The training improved farming methods, and the farmers have been able to get better yields especially because of terracing and the use of organic farming. Health and hygiene has also improved, because before the project we could skip days without taking a bath. The children look healthy and smart compared to the past few years. We have planted vegetables at our homes which have improved nutrition for our families and they also fetch good income for buying other basic needs like clothes and paying school fees. The environment has also changed, and we hope to see it change in the next few years.”

Scholastica Kyalo with Field Officer Mutheu Mutune

Her daughter Ndungwa Kyalo had similar things to say. “Before, washing my clothes was a nightmare because water from Kikuu River was very salty and the distance to water source has decreased compared to before when we could walk for long distances in search of water. I have been using this water to bathe and wash my clothes. My personal hygiene has improved… My school performance has increased because I don’t waste a lot of time going to fetch water. Instead, I use the time to do my homework. I use the water from the sand dam to water my vegetables such as onions, kales, and tomatoes which are very good.”

Ndungwa Kyalo

Our visit proved extremely valuable as we learned that this hand-dug well dries up on occasion. Water is still available in holes dug right by the sand dam but because of severe drought at the turn of the year, even those dried up for a few months. Ndungwa reports that without water at Kwa Mutunga’s sand dam, people either buy bottled water or make the long trip to Kikuu River. However, Mrs. Kyalo noted that their young sand dam will continue to mature through more rainy seasons, building up sand and storing even more clean water which will make the environment greener and lives healthier. We will continue to work with this community to ensure clean drinking water in the future.

Most of our other southeastern Kenya projects are like this too; they are young systems that need time to mature in order to provide clean, reliable water throughout drought. We look forward to this happening here, and are excited to monitor the transformation!

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.