Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2017

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/20/2024

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

Mbindi Self-Help Group was formed in 2015, consisting of 27 households from Mbindi Village. The primary concern of the group is social well-being. Recently, they pooled resources to establish merry-go-rounds (loans that go out to a different household each month). A united attempt to plant trees for livelihood failed due to water scarcity, resulting in trees not bearing fruits. Since the group’s establishment, there have also been successes: Construction of two sand dams has resulted in positive economic stability for many community members. Prior to the construction of these sand dams, natural springs served as the primary water source. The construction of sand dams has made water readily available and reduced the average time to fetch water for many locals.

Water Sanitation

Despite the sand dams, the large community population means clean water is not universally accessible. Mbindi Community consists of 800 individuals spread out for many miles. (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.) For those living far away from the sand dams, traveling to them and fetching water from them can take an entire day.

Surface water and unprotected spring water are the primary sources of water for those who struggle with this trip. Despite the existence of two sand dams, the distribution of clean water within the community is unequal, with those living close to the sand damn getting better access compared to those living farther away. This results in higher prevalence of waterborne disease amongst the population that live far from the dams.

The containers used for fetching water are cleaned only sporadically, resulting in algae development. The collected water is stored either in these same jerrycans, or emptied into larger plastic drums and tanks when delivered home. These conditions were observed both in those collecting water at the sand dam and those relying on dirty water farther away.

Sanitation and Hygiene Situation

The government has done a remarkable job in advocating for and maintaining the importance of sanitation and hygiene within the community. All community members have access to at least a basic pit latrine. While they are in relatively stable condition, the geographical terrain makes shallow latrine depth an issue.

In addition to latrines, all homes have clean bathing spaces. The majority of the community population disposes of their garbage in pits, which often double as compost pits. Overall, the community members have a positive attitude towards sanitation and hygiene, which has been a major component in preventing people from getting hygiene-related diseases.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training Review

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 storage.

Plans: Sand Dam

The community will provide local resources – i.e. sand, stones and water – delivering them to the site for dam construction. 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 is the result of collaboration between both community members and our engineers, ensuring convenience while maintaining ideal specifications. The site also has a large catchment area that will provide for more water storage, while the self-help group is building a hand-dug well (click here to see that project) that will give locals safe access to this reservoir. Thanks to this new sand dam, a greater number of households will be able to get enough water for farming as well as clean water for drinking.

Project Updates

August, 2018: A Year Later: Mbindi Community Sand Dam

A year ago, generous donors helped build a hand-dug well and sand dam for the Mbindi Self-Help Group in Kenya. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow 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...

June, 2017: Mbindi Community Sand Dam Complete

Mbindi 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 were trained on hygiene and sanitation training at the end of last year, and have agreed on dates for a review hygiene and sanitation training later this year. 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: Hygiene and Sanitation Plans

Though community members attended an intensive training last year, they agreed to review important hygiene and sanitation training for two more days. The trainer and community worked together to agree on the best dates for these review sessions, deciding that later would be best. Last year's training is still fresh in their minds.

4 kenya4757 training

Participants work with the trainer to list out common sicknesses in Mbindi during training late last year.

As for the training last year, the main topics 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

10 kenya4757 training

We taught how to construct a hand-washing station out of all easily accessible materials, and expect every household to have one.

The above topics are what we plan to review with the community later this year. The trainer plans to visit Mbindi after the review to assess the success of training, and of whether or not dish racks, clotheslines, and hand-washing stations have been built at all households. These tools were all part of the action plan Mbindi Community made to improve hygiene and sanitation in their homes, and we are holding them accountable!

Project Result: 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.

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.

33 kenya4757 construction

Mixing concrete

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.

17 kenya4757 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 finished sand dam measures 3.95 meters high and 27.8 meters long, and can now begin to store water.

Project Photos

Project Type

Sand dams are huge, impressive structures built into the riverbeds of seasonal rivers (rivers that disappear every year during dry seasons). Instead of holding back a reservoir of water like a traditional dam would, sand dams accumulate a reservoir of silt and sand. Once the rain comes, the sand will capture 1-3% of the river’s flow, allowing most of the water to pass over. Then, we construct shallow wells on the riverbank to provide water even when the river has dried up, thanks to new groundwater reserves. Learn more here!

A Year Later: Mbindi Community

August, 2018

Farmers are seeing improved crops and families have better access to water, all thanks to the constructed dam and well.

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Mbindi Community 2A.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mbindi Community 2A 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, generous donors helped build a hand-dug well and sand dam for the Mbindi Self-Help Group in Kenya. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow 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 – we’re excited to share this one from our partner Joe Kioko with you.

The area surrounding the water point has been transformed from brown to an attractive green thanks to the availability of water for a better part of the year. Water access in the whole village has greatly improved through the construction of a sand dam and a shallow well.

Francis Nzioki

"Clean water has been brought close to us through the shallow well and this has made our lives easier. We now have enough water at home for the washing of clothes, bathing, drinking, cooking, watering our livestock, cleaning our houses and latrines," Mr. Francis Nzioki said.

"All that was not a luxury in the past."

He noted the improved taste of the well water and so did 13-year-old Kioko Mutuku.

"I enjoy fetching water from the shallow well with a 10-liter jerrican, unlike before when I had to walk with a donkey. Water is now available near our home, the pumping is fun, and takes less time compared to walking to scoop holes," Mutuku said.

Kioko Mutuku

The well provides the community with clean water throughout the year. Some members of the group started individual vegetable farms that boosted their incomes and improved their living standards.

Installation of the well and dam is only one step along the journey toward sustainable access to clean water. The Water Project and Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF) are 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 functional spring in Mbindi Community is changing many lives. This is not possible without the web of support and trust built between The Water Project, ASDF, 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 Mbindi Community 2A 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 Mbindi Community 2A – 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 - Beverly and Nelson Sollenberger
The 2017 Good Karma Party Participants
Planet Green Team
Stacey Van Berkel Photography Inc.
Maura Smith & Steve Schapiro
Penny Wilson & Richard A. Falkenrath
Lydia Middleton Fourth Grade Students
1-2 SB & 2-3C 2016 at Coldstream Primary School
107 individual donor(s)