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Location: Kenya

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 254 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

The Mbuuni Self-Help Group is located in Mbuuni Village, Kaani sub-location, Iveti location, Kathiani Sub-County of Machakos County. The household size of the self-help group has an average of five members while the average age of the group is 45. Mbuuni Village itself has a total population of 254.

36% of the members said that their main source of income is casual labor, which is mostly available during the planting and harvesting seasons. Another 27% depends on farming as their sole source of income. 27% of the group members said that they rely on a salary at the end of the month, 7% of the members operate small businesses which act as their main source of daily income while a small percent (2%) rely on other sources. 1% of the whole group relies on livestock sales for income.

Water Situation

The Machakos government drilled a borehole in this region, which has become the safe, go-to source for the surrounding population of a huge circumference. Though many living in Mbuuni Village are drinking clean water from this borehole, they are doing so at an extremely high cost:

  • 21% of members travel over 1 km to this source
  • The majority line up at the borehole waiting for water for more than 2 hours
  • 27% wait for about 1 hour

Couple the travel time and the wait time together, and a majority of the day is spent focused on water access.

Thus, a majority of community members walk to the nearby riverbed where they dig scoop holes for water. Though many mothers boil water before serving it to their families, waterborne disease is still a common consequence of drinking scoop hole water. These open holes in the riverbed are subject to contamination from all directions!

When delivered home, water is poured into larger plastic storage containers.

Sanitation Situation

Sanitation and hygiene is not the predominant issue in Mbuuni Village, it is water access. People are doing their best to keep their compounds clean with the little water they have. 100% of homes have their own latrine, and those we observed were in fairly good condition. Everyone also has a dedicated facility for practicing personal hygiene.

A majority of families are also utilizing helpful tools like dish racks and clotheslines to safely dry their belongings up off the ground. However, there were only a few hand-washing stations observed.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

To address gaps in hygiene and sanitation practices in Mbuuni Community, training will be offered to self-help group members on two consecutive days. The members will learn about useful practices and tools to improve health, and then will be able to share those with their families and neighbors. Water transport, storage, and treatment methods will be taught, and hand-washing will be a focus. Group members will learn how to make their own hand-washing stations with everyday materials.

Plans: Sand Dam

This sand dam will be one of many construction projects to come in the next few years. We will spend a total of five years unified with this community to address the water shortage. More sand dams will be built to transform the environment. As the sand dam matures and builds up more sand, the water table will rise. Along with these sand dams, hand-dug wells will be installed to give locals a good, safe way to access that water.

This particular sand dam is projected to be 55.2 meters long and 5.6 meters high. The group members first pointed out their preferred locations for the sand dam, and then our technical team followed up to ensure the viability of construction.

As the sand dam construction begins, community members will start excavating the first adjacent hand-dug well (click here to see that well project).

Recent Project Updates

06/21/2017: Mbuuni Community Sand Dam Complete

Mbuuni 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: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

Hygiene and sanitation training was held at one of the group members’ homesteads. Over 90% of the self-help group attended, setting the total attendance at 153 people!

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Attendance was so large that several groups had to be formed for each activity.

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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Groups also worked together to write action plans to implement hygiene and sanitation standards in their homes.

Local businesswoman Felistus Kioko was one of the 80 women who attended training. “The training was good and a success. I have learned a lot of new things as far as hygiene and sanitation is concerned. Some of the things that I have learnt that I didn’t even know are important include; How to construct a dish rack, Importance of digging a rubbish pit, cleaning water jerricans, cleaning compounds and burning litter, latrine hygiene and different methods of water treatment. I have also learned that I should cover my latrine with a lid,” she shared.

Project Result: Sand Dam

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 hundreds of hard-working community members, there were no delays to this project.

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Community members form a line to easily transport stones from one location to another.

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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The sand dam is now complete and can begin to store water. It measures 5.6 meters high and 55.2 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 hand-dug well, click here.

Thank You for standing with Mbuuni Community to transform their environment and change lives!

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03/17/2017: Mbuuni Community Sand Dam Underway

We are happy to announce that the Mbuuni 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.

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, Kathiani, Iveti, Kaani, Mbuuni
ProjectID: 4760
Install Date:  06/21/2017


Project Underwriter - Alan and Lesley Pedersen
Learning Ninjas
Optimus Companies
Stone Family
Gary Alumnae Chapter of Dleta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
MeKo Travel
Crosstown Covenant Church
The Ajay Dayal Presidential Fund
In honor of Connor McGregor
68 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.