Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 158 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2017

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 12/12/2022

Project Features

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Community Profile

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.

Project Updates

10/29/2018: A Year Later: Katitu Community

A year ago, your generous donation helped us construct a sand dam and hand-dug well for Katitu Community in Kenya. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow our teams to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the water project over time. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories. Read more...

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

11 kenya4756 training

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.

5 kenya4756 training

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.

21 kenya4756 construction

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.

Project Photos

Project Type

Sand Dam

Seasonal streams (and the sand they carry) are trapped by dams, replenishing the water table and allowing for adjacent hand-dug wells. Almost completely led by community-supplied sweat and materials, and under the supervision of engineers, dams are strategically placed within those dry river-beds. The next time it rains, flood-waters are trapped.

With a sand dam, this trapped sand begins to hold millions of gallons of rainwater. Soon enough, sand reaches the top of the dam, allowing water to continue downstream – where it meets the next dam. The result? A regional water table is restored.

A Year Later: Katitu Community

October, 2018

Having water nearby has enabled Patricia to have more time with her family to create strong bonds – something which was never possible before.

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Katitu Community 1A.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Katitu Community 1A maintain access to safe, reliable water. Together, they keep The Water Promise.

We’re confident you'll love joining this world-changing group committed to sustainability!

A year ago, your generous donation helped us construct a sand dam and hand-dug well for Katitu Community in Kenya. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow our teams to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the water project over time. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – and we’re excited to share this one from Titus Mbithi with you.

The immediate surroundings of the sand dam and well are green and attractive, thanks to there being water for a year so far.

From left to right: Timina Wambua, Patricia Mutuku, Titus Mbithi

We spoke to Timina Wambua and Patricia Mutuku about some of the other changes they have witnessed over the past year with water.

"We no longer walk for more than four kilometers to Thwake River looking for water to use in our homes. The shallow well has brought water close to us, therefore, making our work easier especially for women. Now I can even send my children to the well and in less than 15 minutes they are back with water," shared Mrs. Wambua.

"This is a long-time dream come true. My children have stopped complaining about stomach problems as the available water is now from a more trusted source."

Timina Wambua pumping water for Patricia Mutuku

Construction of the sand dam and well system is only one step along the journey toward sustainable access to clean water. The Water Project is committed to consistent monitoring of each water source. Our monitoring and evaluation program, made possible by donors like you, allows us to maintain our relationships with communities by visiting up to 4 times each year to ensure that the water points are safe and reliable.

This is just one of the many ways that we monitor projects and communicate with you. Additionally, you can always check the functionality status and our project map to see how all of our water points are performing, based on our consistent monitoring data.

One project is just a drop in the bucket towards ending the global water crisis, but the ripple effects of this project are truly astounding. This sand dam and well in Katitu are changing many lives.

Patricia Mutuku

Mrs. Mutuku chimed in to add her own experience of how she has used this water project.

"I have been able to use the water in watering tree seedlings which are now doing well. It's my hope that they will survive and develop into mature trees to make my home beautiful and serene. This was never possible in the past as there was no constant water supply," Mrs. Mutuku said.

"The shallow well has made fetching water more fun, as it is within the village and thus takes me less time. This has created more time for me to work on other personal activities that aid in family development. It has also enabled me to have more time with the family to create strong bonds - something which was never possible in the water-hunting era."

This is only possible because of the web of support and trust built between The Water Project, our local teams, the community, and you. We are excited to stay in touch with this community and support their journey with safe water.

Read more about The Water Promise and how you can help.

Navigating through intense dry spells, performing preventative maintenance, conducting quality repairs when needed and continuing to assist community leaders to manage water points are all normal parts of keeping projects sustainable. The Water Promise community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Katitu Community 1A maintain access to safe, reliable water.

We’d love for you to join this world-changing group committed to sustainability.

The most impactful way to continue your support of Katitu Community 1A – and hundreds of other places just like this – is by joining our community of monthly givers.

Your monthly giving will help provide clean water, every month... keeping The Water Promise!


Project Sponsor - Barbara Belle Ash Dougan Foundation