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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

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.

Recent Project Updates

10/05/2017: 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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07/14/2017: 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!

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Explore More of The Project

Project Photos

Project Data

Project Type:  Sand Dam
Location:  Makueni, Kivani
ProjectID: 4764
Install Date:  10/05/2017


Dolby Match Program/Sripal Mehta
Binghamton University Foundation
Middlebury Elementary School
Whitehall-Coplay Middle School
Belinder Elementary 6th Grade
Stop the Walk
Tyler and Jenah's Well
The International Baccalaureate School at Campbell High School Fundraising Page for 2016-2017
Lefty's Campaign for Water
Sidi Amar's Nomadic Tribe Campaign for Water
Isabel Garcia-Maxson's Campaign for Water
Mentors & Students from West MS Campaign for Water
CIST Grade 7's Campaign for Water
Interact Club of BHS' Campaign for Water
A Long Walk to Water Fundraiser
Vineland AMSA Campaign for Water
Caroline Middle School's Campaign for Water
McCall's Campaign for Water
Anja's Fundraiser
Mount Vital's Campaign for Water
Ethan and Kate's Campaign for Water
BI & DP's Real Reason for the Season - Campaign for Water
Flynn's Birthday Campaign for Water
Jorge's Campaign for A Better World
Water is Life....Fundraising Page
Waverly Middle School Takes the Challenge
Lilliann's Well Project
Mr. Young's 16-17 3rd Grade Class Water Project
Jessica's Campaign for Water
Ainsley's Campaign for Water
St Mary's Campaign for Water
Katharina's 24th Birthday Campaign for Water
Granby Elementary Campaign for Water
Brownie Troop 63227 Campaign for Water
L-Soren Mobley's Campaign for Clean Water
I Was Thirsty and You Gave...
Girl Scout Troop 52629
Claire's Campaign for Water
Cleaner Envy LLC's Campaign for Water
Lovin Africa Project

And 11 other fundraising page(s)
5 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.