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: 06/04/2024

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

Kithito Andu Akuu ma Ngaa Self-Help Group was formed and certified in the year 2014. The group is found in Ngaa Village that is home to 800 households! This translates to thousands living in the area. (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 formed a relationship with this group and plan to support them to do multiple water projects over the next couple of years until adequate water is available. To learn more, click here.)

The group's main objective is to enhance their overall welfare by conducting fund sharing, establishing tree nurseries, and weaving baskets and sisal rope. Their mean age is 43, while the mean of the members in each household is five. In terms of education level, a recent survey established that household heads are the most learned - some of them have been to college or technical school.

Water Situation

Most of this group keeps large plastic containers outside to catch water when it rains. However, the dry season is long and forces families to search elsewhere. This search takes them over two kilometers away to the river.

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.

There is rampant waterborne disease and the resulting treatment costs are huge, especially for these families that make so little. Long hours are spent walking to and lining up at the scoop holes.

Farmer Alice Nthenya Mulinge said, "We fetch water from open scoop holes in the river. This water is dirty because we often find all sort of dirt. We expect to access clean water from our sand dam and shallow well because it will be covered and water seeping in will be clean."

Sanitation Situation

Every single group member's home has a pit latrine. The buildings' materials depend on the economic status of each household, ranging from sticks to concrete. However, less than half of households have and use hand-washing stations.

There is a collective positive attitude towards sanitation and hygiene; people do their best because they know living in a dirty environment can and will cause health issues.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

To address gaps in hygiene and sanitation practices in Ngaa 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 64.15 meters long and 4.32 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 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.

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

July, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Ngaa Community

Our teams are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us in our fight against the virus while maintaining access to clean, reliable water.

We are carrying out awareness and prevention trainings on the virus in every community we serve. Very often, our teams are the first (and only) to bring news and information of the virus to rural communities like Ngaa, Kenya.

We trained community members on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19.

Due to public gathering concerns, we worked with trusted community leaders to gather a select group of community members who would then relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

We covered essential hygiene lessons:

- Demonstrations on how to build a simple handwashing station

- Proper handwashing technique

- The importance of using soap and clean water for handwashing

- Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces including at the water point.

We covered COVID-19-specific guidance in line with national and international standards:

- Information on the symptoms and transmission routes of COVID-19

- What social distancing is and how to practice it

- How to cough into an elbow

- Alternative ways to greet people without handshakes, fist bumps, etc.

- How to make and properly wear a facemask.

During training, we installed a new handwashing station with soap near the community’s water point,

Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we also dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the disease and provide extra information where needed.

Water access, sanitation, and hygiene are at the crux of disease prevention. You can directly support our work on the frontlines of COVID-19 prevention in all of the communities we serve while maintaining their access to safe, clean, and reliable water.

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

A year ago, generous donors helped construct a sand dam and hand-dug well for Ngaa 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: Ngaa Community Sand Dam Complete

Ngaa 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

Hygiene and sanitation training was held at Ngaa Primary School, since it's a central venue for all group members. The chairman of the group was the person responsible for notifying all members of training - where and when it would be. It was well attended, with most of the members there for all three days!

1 kenya4765 training

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

5 kenya4765 training

Demonstration on how to build and use a hand-washing station.

By the end of training, the group had developed their own action plan to implement the hygiene and sanitation practices they learned. Farmer Cosmas Wambua told us that "The training was good! I have learnt a lot about personal hygiene, compound hygiene, water hygiene, food hygiene and latrine hygiene. I have also learnt how to make liquid soap. We will now improve our hygiene and sanitation standards at the household level by using affordable soap. We did not have any income-generating activity for our group and we are very happy soap-making will be our first."

2 kenya4765 training

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!

11 kenya4765 construction

These ladies are in charge of transporting sand to the construction site.

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

15 kenya4765 construction

The finished height is 4.32 meters and the length is 64.15 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.

20 kenya4765 finished sand dam

This process was more difficult for the Ngaa Self-Help than most; the 30 group members are advanced in age, with an average of 60 years. There were really only two middle-aged men who were often overwhelmed by the difficult manual labor. Secondly, it rained right after the ground was excavated, which filled the trenches and washed sand into them. But with great ambition and perseverance, the group was able to help our artisans complete the huge task at hand. Mr. Wambua said, "We are very thankful for the support. We now have clean water for drinking, domestic use and farming. Our trees used to dry up due to lack of water, especially during dry periods. We are planning to plant trees and vegetables. We are very happy and we promise our donor that we are ready to build more sand dams and shallow wells!"

This group is so special. Did you know that "Kithito Andu Akuu ma Ngaa" literally means "The efforts of the elderly people of Ngaa Village?" Those efforts will pay off in huge dividends!

August, 2017: Ngaa Community Sand Dam Underway

Ngaa 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, 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: Ngaa Community

September, 2018

Fetching water is now an enjoyable activity, says Priscilla Kanyiva. It now only takes her 10 minutes, a journey so short she brings her young children along to help!

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Ngaa 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 Ngaa 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.

Residents of Ngaa Village are euphoric after the well and sand dam were installed in their region. The well has been instrumental in providing sufficient clean water to the community. Long distances that were initially traveled in search for water have been reduced as they walk for less than 500 meters to access water.

"Before this project, we used to go to fetch water more than two kilometers away and had to use donkeys to carry it. Nowadays, things are easy," Cosmos Wambua said.

"I walk for short distances within the village which takes me less than five minutes to access the shallow well water."

He also noted the fact that waterborne diseases are not a problem for community members, thanks to the well. People also are applying the lessons they learned from the hygiene and sanitation pieces of training in their daily lives!

"Availability of water has led to clean homes and cleanliness among ourselves this includes the latrines and clothes being washed on a daily basis. In addition, the levels of hygiene have improved as I wash hands before meals and after visiting latrines," Priscilla Kanyiva said.

Some people have started commercial agriculture using water from the dam to grow kale, maize, and other crops which are growing exceptionally well and fetch good prices in the market.

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.

Sand dam

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 Ngaa is changing many lives.

"I have been enjoying fetching water, as it is a less than 10 minutes activity," Mrs. Kanyiva said.

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 Ngaa 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 Ngaa 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.


Conner Middle School
Spring Hill Elementary
Town School for Boys
Glen Crest Middle School
Deerfield High School Human Rights Club
Brennen Elementary
Clear Horizons Early College High School
Norton Commons Elementary School
Hopewell Church
Shining Light Bible Mission Church
Worthington School District
Waxhaw Elementary School
Tuxedo Park School
North Dunedin Baptist Church
6 individual donor(s)