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Location: Kenya

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 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

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.

Recent Project Updates

06/20/2017: 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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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04/17/2017: Mbindi Community Sand Dam Project Underway

Mbindi 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 hygiene and sanitation training to learn about practices that can improve their health. We just posted an initial report including information about the community, GPS coordinates, and pictures. We’ll keep you posted as the work continues!

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Explore More of The Project

Project Photos

Project Data

Project Type:  Sand Dam
Location:  Machakos, Mbindi
ProjectID: 4757
Install Date:  06/20/2017


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)

Want to start your own campaign? Learn more »

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.