Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2017

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/29/2024

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

Itatini Self-Help Group was formed in the year 2012. It has a membership of 37, comprised of 22 females and 15 males. The average size of the members' households is five. 30% are 20-40 years old, while another third are of the ages 40-55 years. The final third are 55 and up. The members of this group come from three different villages: Mukimwani Village is home to 670 people; Kivani Village is home to 414; Katitu Village has 390. These villages are all in the Mukimwani sub-location, which has a population of 5,202.

(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.  That's why we've partnered with the Itatini Self-Help Group and ASDF to increase water access throughout this region. To learn more, click here.)

The main socioeconomic activities for this area are:

- Casual labor: 17% are hired to do household-related jobs, which are not frequently available. Job availability also depends on the season e.g. most casual labor happens during harvest time and planting season

- Professions: 10% are employed in different professions e.g. teachers

- Two thirds depend on farming

- The remainder operate small businesses

Just a few years ago, people living here had to walk hours to get water. After Itatini Self-Help Group stepped up to address water scarcity, and through their advocacy, new water sources have been installed along the seasonal river.

Water Situation

Sand dams transform dry river beds into oases. Itatini Self-Help Group is in their third year out of five meant to transform their villages and greater environments into fertile, healthy places where clean water is available.

They have two sand dam and well systems along the river that draw hundreds of beneficiaries. With the thousands relying on this river, the group will tackle yet another sand dam further down the riverbed.

Mule Wambua Nthitu is a 52-year-old farmer who travels to the first sand dam, and is also a member of the Itatini Self-Help Group. He's helped build all of the dams, and plans to help complete this third one. He is very happy about the new water sources they have. "We had lacked water for a long time, especially during dry periods. But we now have water for drinking and can sustain us during dry season. We have grown vegetables like tomatoes, sukuma wiki (kales), and spinach using the water from the sand dam. In the last season, we made 11,000 shillings from vegetable sales. We then used the money to purchase some construction materials for our second sand dam," he shared.

Sanitation Situation

100% of households trained through Itatini Self-Help Group have pit latrines. The majority have bathing shelters, hand-washing stations, dish racks and clotheslines. They have done fairly well implementing their action plan for hygiene and sanitation improvements, but can still benefit from the upcoming review training.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Review

We will review hygiene and sanitation practices to help strengthen the weaknesses found during our staff's visits. Our trainers will continue to stress the importance of treating water before consuming it. We will also strengthen the committee in charge of water point management and maintenance, equipping them with the skills to ensure there’s clean water for generations to come.

We will review food preparation, personal hygiene, and compound hygiene.

The group members who have not yet constructed a hand-washing station will be reminded of its importance in preventing communicable diseases.

Plans: Sand Dam

The Itatini Self-Help Group has decided that this third sand dam and hand-dug well system should be constructed further down the river. This will reach group members living farthest away from the first and second projects. The third dam is warranted, as all of these villages need more than one water source to serve thousands. We estimate that the sand dam will be 53.85 meters long and 2.9 meters high.

As the sand dam matures, it will build up sand and naturally filter the river’s water and the rainwater supplied during the rainy season.

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

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

A year ago, generous donors helped construction a sand dam and hand-dug well for Kivani 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...

October, 2017: Kivani Community Sand Dam Complete

Kivani 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 a review on hygiene and sanitation, 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: Hygiene and Sanitation Review

Hygiene and sanitation review was held at a self-help group member's home. We worked with the already established water and sanitation committee to invite participants, and they decided amongst themselves when the most convenient time to meet would be.

2 kenya4764 training

The group requested that we focus on the following topics:

– Food hygiene: Properly handling food until it’s consumed, which includes preparation, cooking, and storage

– Personal hygiene: Hand-washing and other practices

– Water hygiene: Properly collecting, transporting, storing, and treating water

Participants gathered into groups of five to discuss the sanitation ladder and compound hygiene. Each group presented on what they discussed, and then everyone analyzed the material and made any needed corrections. We used posters and drawings to review disease transmissions routes and all of the ways to block them.

1 kenya4764 training

When covering hand-washing, we asked one member to remind the rest about each step. The listeners certainly weren’t shy to bring up anything they forgot!

Due to recent outbreaks of cholera in some parts of Kenya, a training session on cholera was done to keep these people from also becoming victims.

There was also an activity that taught group members how to make their own soap. The soap will serve three different purposes:

-Sanitize hands and protect people from germs
-Unlock opportunities for group profit: A total of 20 liters of soap was made during training, much of which the members plan to sell to neighbors in their community and at markets
-Increase household income: Some group members plan to teach the other adults in their households how to make this soap, turning it into a regular business

The training staff was sure to share on how to best procure materials and set fair prices for this soap.

4 kenya4764 training

Group members working together to mix soap.

Project Result: Sand Dam

The self-help group started by helping us collect all of the sand and stones we’d need for construction. Materials collection is normally the step that takes a longest during a sand dam project. The people also provided manual labor, working beside our artisans doing things like mixing cement and digging trenches.

6 kenya4764 construction

Before actual construction started, siting and technical designs were drawn and presented to the Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) for approval. Once approved, we began with establishing firm bedrock at the base of the sand dam wall. In the absence of good bedrock, excavation would be 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) was mixed and heaped into the foundation. Once there was enough mortar to hold the rocks, rocks were heaped into the mortar. Barbed wire and twisted bar was used to reinforce the mixture. Once the foundation was complete, a skeleton of timber was built to hold the sludge and rocks up above ground level. The process was then repeated until a sufficient height, width and length was built up. Then, the vertical timber supports were dismantled and the dam was left to cure.

11 kenya4764 construction

The finished height is 2.9 meters and the length is 53.85 meters. As soon as it rains, the dam will begin to build up sand and store water. 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.

15 kenya4764 finished sand dam

Group members have already planted along the new sand dam.

Mr. Mule Wambua Nthitu is a 52-year-old farmer who has now helped Itatini Self-Help Group build three sand dams. He said, "We have grown vegetables like tomatoes, kale, and spinach using the water in the sand dams. Last season, we sold up to 11,000 shillings..."

We’re excited to see how this third sand dam will provide even more clean water and fertile land long into the future.

July, 2017: Kivani Community Sand Dam Underway

Kivani 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 review training to be reminded of practices that improve 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!

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: Kivani Community

September, 2018

Mutie Munyao was too old to fetch water before the installation of the sand dam and well. Today, it’s so easy that both he and his grandson can collect water!

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kivani 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 construction a sand dam and hand-dug well for Kivani 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 Titus Mbithi with you.

Water access in Kaviani has been greatly boosted by installation of the water point. The community members now have easy access to clean drinking water all year round, unlike before when they had to walk for long distances to access this basic commodity.

Hygiene and sanitation levels at the household have improved as a result of the community training. The majority of the community members wash their hands with clean water before eating meals as well as after visiting latrines. This has led to lower disease prevalence among the community members.

"In the last one year, life has been really enjoyable. It's unbelievable how the short distance, less than a kilometer, we walk for water can provide time for development," Mule Wambua said.

"Now that we walk shorter distances we have time for personal development activities at home as well as improving our lives when we work in the farm and take care of our livestock."

The short distance to the water point and the ease to fetch the water means more people can help get water. Mutie Munyao, a 67 year-old man in the community, said now he and his grandchildren will go get water - something neither could do before the well was completed.

"The environment at home is now more clean and appealing because the water is available in adequate volumes. The houses, latrines and kitchen are clean as they are cleaned on a regular basis," he added.

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.

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 dam and well in Kivani is changing many lives.

"The water is sweet and clean for drinking and cooking our favorite traditional meals," Mr. Wambua said.

"Our children are also enjoying the water as they can now stay clean by showering and wearing clean clothes."

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 Kivani 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 Kivani 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.