Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Dec 2017

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/08/2024

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

Kithangaini Kithuluni Atui Self-Help Group was formed in the year 2001 with a membership of 60 people, and registered with local government in the same year. Currently, the active members are 45 people who come from Kithangaini Kithuluni Village, which has a population of 8,400 people.

The group's main objective is to support each other in digging terraces on their farms, constructing gabions, table banking and social welfare. The mean age of members is 52, and the average size of each household is six family members.

As is easily seen in the group's purpose above, farming is the main source of income here; half of the group is able to earn at least 3,000 shillings a month, while the rest manages a bit more.

Water Situation

Community members always take advantage of the rain when it comes. They put barrels and other plastic containers outside to catch the rain. However, many areas see only one to two large rains during the year.

During the dry months, everyone walks to River Thwake to get the water they need.

Water isn’t flowing at this river. People have to dig in the riverbed until they hit water. They fill their 20-liter containers with the water from this hole, and load it onto a donkey or ox-drawn cart. If a family can’t afford a pack animal, they must hoist the heavy container up and carry it all the way home themselves.

This water is open to contaminants from many different sources. Livestock brought back and forth drink freely from the hole, often relieving themselves somewhere along the way. When it rains, even more waste is washed into this water source, not to mention the dirt itself that erodes and muddies the water.

Not only is a lot of time sacrificed to walk to and from the river, but even more time is lost as community members fight illnesses suffered after drinking its dirty water. Rampant waterborne disease is a reality here, with treatment costs diverting substantial family income.

70-year-old Annah Ndeti said, "We know this water might not be safe for drinking, but we do not have an alternative. Some of us boil but most don't. We therefore need to be taught on different treatment methods to make it safe for drinking."

Sanitation Situation

100% of group members' homes have a pit latrine, however rudimentary. Most of them lack doors and only have a curtain hanging there, which can be seen in some of the photos. You find a mixture of permanent and semi-permanent structures depending on the economic status of each household.

Less than half of households have a hand-washing station, and quite a few of these are missing a cleaning agent like soap or ash. Even a handful of households aren't using dish racks or clotheslines to dry their belongings safely up off the ground.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

To address gaps in hygiene and sanitation practices in Kithangaini Kithuluni Community, training will be offered to self-help group members on three 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. To motivate participants, we must show the links between these activities and their people’s health.

Plans: Sand Dam

Members of this group heard about us from a neighboring self-help group that we are working with. They then approached our field officer with a request for support, and after verifying that they had the relevant registration documents, they were put on our mandatory six-month probation period. During this time, locals are expected to seriously take development to heart and begin constructing hygiene facilities and gathering local materials to be used in the construction process. After that, we returned to verify their water challenges and their need for additional support. The evidence to warrant our support was sufficient, and the group was taken on board. Their first proposed site for a sand dam was also approved by our technical team because there is firm bedrock and wide banks. This particular sand dam is projected to be 53.35 meters long and 5.5 meters high.

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 dams mature and build up more sand, the water tables will rise. Along with these sand dams, hand-dug wells will be installed to give locals a good, safe way to access that water.

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

Project Updates

September, 2018: A Year Later: Kithuluni Community Sand Dam

A year ago, generous donors helped construct a sand dam and hand-dug well for Kithuluni Community 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...

December, 2017: Kithangaini Kithuluni Community Sand Dam Complete

Kithangaini Kithuluni 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 attended hygiene and sanitation training, 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, so make sure to check them out!

Project Result: New Knowledge

The field officer worked with the chairman of the self-help group to arrange the best time and place to hold hygiene and sanitation training. This happens at least two weeks before proposed dates to give the members enough time to clear their schedules to attend. It was held at a group member's homestead, where attendance and participation were both very good. These group members were excited to learn new things and make an action plan to improve life in their community.

Our goals were to show the relationship between sanitation and health, encourage community members to take care of their water source, build sanitation facilities like latrines, and improve hygiene behaviors.

We used role plays, lecture, demonstrations, and group discussions to teach about many new things: personal hygiene like hand-washing and toothbrushing; water handling like storage and treatment; sanitation facilities like latrines, dish racks, clotheslines, and compost pits. On the last day of training, we taught participants how to make a hand-washing station out of all easily accessible and affordable local materials.

65-year-old Pius Kavila is the chairman of the self-help group. He said, "The training was very good and very educative. Personally as the chairman, I will be having some refresher trainings with the group to remind them what we’ve learned today. I was very much impressed with the topics on importance of having a latrine and its cleanliness, personal hygiene, water treatment and how human feces can cause diseases (disease transmission routes). We also learned that it is important to keep our water sources clean and well fenced to prevent them from contamination."

Pius Kavila, chairman of the self-help group

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!

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.

The trench excavated by group members.

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 vertical timber beams are dismantled and the dam is left to cure.

The finished height is 4.4 meters and the length is 53.35 meters. As soon as it rains, the dam will begin to build up sand and store water. With this water, the surrounding landscape will become lush and fertile. However, it could take up to three years of rain (Because sometimes it only rains once a year!) for this huge sand dam to reach maximum capacity. Sand dam construction was simultaneous to construction of a hand-dug well which gives locals a safe method of drawing water. As the sand dam matures and stores more water, more of it will be accessible as drinking water from the well. To see that hand-dug well, click here.

October, 2017: Kithangaini Kithuluni Community Sand Dam Underway

Kithangaini Kithuluni 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 improve health. We just posted an initial report including information about the community, maps, and pictures. We’ll keep you posted as the work continues!

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: Kithuluni Community

September, 2018

Life is easier now… The shallow well provides access to fresh and clean drinking water.

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kithuluni 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, generous donors helped construct a sand dam and hand-dug well for Kithuluni Community 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 – and we’re excited to share this one from Lilian Kendi with you.

Living standards are already so much higher than before. A group was trained on making soap and have started selling soap as a group to other community members. They have managed to earn 4,000 shillings since their most recent review training. There have also been fewer cases of sickness due to their recent knowledge on water treatment.

From left to right: Francis Kyalo, Lilian Kendi, and Regina Kalekye

We spoke with Mrs. Regina Kalekye and Mr. Francis Kyalo about other changes they have witnessed over the past year.

"The water we have acquired since the completion of this project has been sufficient for practices such as irrigation, washing, drinking, farming and for our livestock," Mrs. Kalekye shared.

Mrs. Regina Kalekye

"We have been able to indulge in farming of vegetables such as kales, tomatoes, and beans. Initially, washing clothes was a periodic chore but now we wash clothes often because the water is plenty at the river. The sanitation levels of my home have also improved."

Before we could start talking with Francis, another woman came along to get water from the well. It didn't take long before she was on her way back home with a 20-liter jerrycan of clean water.

"Water levels along the river have increased, and [water] has also become nearer compared to where we used to fetch before. The distance covered has decreased and the exhausting activities of digging scoop holes are now a distant memory," said Francis.

Francis Kyalo pumping water for Mrs. Kalekye.

"Life is easier now... The shallow well provides access to fresh and clean drinking water. The vegetation has also improved making the environment cool and temperate."

Construction of the dam and well 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.

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 Kithuluni 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 Kithuluni 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.


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