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Location: Kenya

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 158 Served

Project Phase:  Installed

Functionality Status: 

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

Kyandwiki Self-Help Group was formed in the year 2015 by those living in Katitu. It has 33 members, 10 males and 23 females. The average size of a household is six members each. The main economic activity for the community is farming, with 62.5% of the respondents saying they depend entirely on farming as their livelihood. To supplement farming, 19% of respondents engage in casual labour as a means of earning a living. In this case, casual labor means doing menial jobs like digging terraces or fetching water to sell, herding livestock, among other related activities.

Water Situation

The main sources of water in the area are a natural spring and a seasonal river, where people dig scoop holes to get water. 62.5% of the respondents fetch water from natural springs while 37.5% fetch water from the river. On average, it takes 1-2 hours to travel to a water point.

The limitation in availability of alternative water sources has created a business opportunity for the youth in the area. The youth spend all of their time fetching water from the spring and transport the water to the nearby town where they sell it at a fee for those who are unable to travel that far. It costs 10-30 shillings per 20-liter jerrycan of water. Due to all of these factors, there are long queues at the water point throughout the day. If one cannot afford to pay for their water, they must fetch it very early in the morning before 5 AM to avoid the long lines.

Water is transported home either by donkeys, ox-pulled carts, or human backs. The transport depends on the money each household can spend. Since water insecurity has been a continuous challenge, it’s normal for a household to have a donkey. One donkey can carry up to 100 liters of water, while the ox-pulled cart can carry about 400 liters.

To prevent families from making daily frequent trips to the water point, each household has a specific day for fetching water. Most prefer fetching water during weekends when the children are around to help. However, this also means that during those days there will be long queues. On water-fetching days, more than three trips are made to fetch water. When delivered home, the water is stored in large reservoirs to be rationed throughout the rest of the week.

Sanitation Situation

Since we’ve been in relationship with Kyandwiki Self-Help Group and the people of Katitu since the beginning of last year, we’ve seen great hygiene and sanitation improvements. 100% of households in Katitu now have a pit latrine, the majority of them well-constructed and roofed. They are frequently cleaned, too.

All of these households also have bathing rooms for privacy for when they practice personal hygiene. Most also have helpful tools like dish racks and clotheslines, but a great many families still need to set up a station at which to wash hands.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Review

The group will meet for three days for an extensive review on 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. While we were there, Mrs. Ndinda Muendo said, “I rarely treat my water, though am not sure of the quality of water. We have had cases of waterborne diseases.” We will also use these sessions to highlight water treatment methods that are affordable for those living in Katitu.

Plans: Sand Dam

We worked with the community to determine the best location for their next sand dam. This new dam will bring more water to the people living farthest away from the older sand dam. It 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 will be safely used for drinking.

Recent Project Updates

06/15/2017: Katitu Community Sand Dam Complete

Katitu Community, Kenya now has a new source of water thanks to your donation. 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. Community members have also learned 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: Important Reminder

19 community representatives set aside their valuable time to attend hygiene and sanitation training for three days.

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

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A community member impresses her peers with thorough hand-washing!

Mr. Mutyota Kavoi is a farmer who operates a motorcycle taxi on the side. He took a break from his livelihood to attend training, confident that what he’d learn would easily make up for the three days’ income he sacrificed. “Before the training, we did not know that it was important to wash hands after visiting the toilet or before handling food but now we know. We also didn’t know that dish racks and trash pits could help us improve hygiene at our homes. We now get manure for use in our farms from the trash pits,” he shared gratefully.

The trainer scheduled a visit for two days later when she would visit randomly-selected households to check for implementation of dish racks, hand-washing stations, pit latrines, and compost pits. From this-follow up, Veronica concluded that the adoption of lessons from the PHAST training was at 70%. Although all homes had pit latrines, some lacked dish racks, trash pits and tippy taps (hand-washing stations). She decided there is an urgent need for a review training, which is planned for later this month.

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Locals work with the trainer to make an action plan for the coming months.

Project Result: Sand Dam

Construction on this sand dam began in the end of February.

Before actual construction started, siting and technical designs were drawn and presented to the Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) for approval. Once approved, we had to begin establishing firm bedrock at the base of the sand dam wall. In the absence of good bedrock, excavation is done up to a depth at which the technical team is satisfied that the ground is firm enough to stop seepage. Then mortar (a mixture of sand, cement and water) is mixed and heaped into the foundation. Once there is enough mortar to hold rocks available, rocks are heaped into the mortar. Barbed wire and twisted bar is used to reinforce the mixture. Once the foundation is complete, a skeleton of timber is built to hold the sludge and rocks up above ground level. The process is then repeated until a sufficient height, width and length is built up. Then, the timber form is dismantled and the dam is left to cure.

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Community members work together to fill the wooden frame; they’re almost done!

The community members collected all of the local materials like rocks and sand that were required for successful completion of the dam. They also provided unskilled labor to support our artisans. Out of the entire process, collection of the raw construction materials takes longer than the actual construction. For a super large sand dam, material collection could take up to four months! But because of the hard-working members of this community, there were no delays to this project. The sand dam is now complete and can begin to store water. It measures 4.3 meters high and 48.7 meters long.

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.

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03/16/2017: Katitu Community Sand Dam Underway

We are happy to announce that the Katitu Community of Kenya will soon be transformed by the construction of another 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

Project Data

Project Type:  Sand Dam
Location:  Machakos, Katitu Village
ProjectID: 4756
Install Date:  06/15/2017


Project Sponsor - Barbara Belle Ash Dougan 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.