Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 84 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2017

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/21/2024

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

Mwanyani Self-Help Group is located in Ilinge Village of Machakos County, Kenya. It was formed in the year 2016 and now has a membership of 84 people: 36 males, 52 females. "Mwanyani" means space, because it’s located in a space between hills.

The average family size in this area is seven, while the average age of group members is 45. 37% of the members say that their main source of income is casual labour (possibly working on others' farms), while 33% are those farmers who rely on their produce as income. 17% said that they rely on a given salary at the end of the month thanks to a steady job, while the remaining 8% run small businesses. There is a small portion of people who rely on the trading and selling of livestock.

Water Situation

The main source of water for people in this area is the river. At first look the river appears dry, but community members know that if they dig a hole in the sand, they'll hit water. These holes are muddied by the surrounding sand, and are open to contaminate from many other sources. The water in the riverbed is especially dangerous during and after heavy rains. Feces, chemicals from local farms, and other waste is washed into the water. These scoop holes are also unguarded and open to wandering animals that need a drink (or a bath!).

Women carry a plastic jerrycan and a smaller container to the river, using one to fill the other. Tying a strip of cloth around the jerrycan handle, women use their forehead to support the heavy weight of dirty water all the way home. Once home, it is emptied into larger storage containers anywhere between 200 and 1500 liters. These are typically found outside the front door and in the kitchen. A covered container of water is left in the living room for any thirsty guests who visit.

The water collected from the river is used for drinking, cooking, irrigating farms, and cleaning. After drinking, community members suffer from waterborne diseases.

Sanitation Situation

All of the families living around the river have their own latrine. Some are in great condition, while others need to be rebuilt.

A few homes have hand-washing stations, and most have helpful tools like dish racks and clotheslines. After speaking with some of the women in charge of their households' hygiene and sanitation, we learned that everyone here wishes to improve both their personal and environmental hygiene. They said that this would be possible only if water was brought closer to their homes!

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

To address gaps in hygiene and sanitation practices in Ilinge 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. When implemented, these training topics ensure that water and food remain safe until consumed, and that each person and their environment is kept clean for the greatest possible impact.

Participants will also form a water user committee that manages and oversees the new water points implemented over the next few years.

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 their clean water shortage. More sand dams will be built to transform the environment. As the sand dams mature and build up more sand, the water table will rise. To safely access this water, hand-dug wells will be installed adjacent to the dams.

This particular sand dam is being built at the same time as an adjacent hand-dug well (click here to see), so group members will allocate their efforts and resources accordingly. The phases of sand dam construction include material mobilization, excavation down to the bedrock, and building the wall. The completed sand dam is projected to be 69.7 meters long and 4.45 meters high!

Project Updates

August, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Sebastian Mumo

This post is part of a new series by The Water Project meant to highlight the perspectives and experiences of the people we serve and how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them. We invite you to read more of their stories here.

Our team recently visited Ilinge Community to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point. Shortly after, we returned to check in on the community, offer a COVID-19 refresher training, and ask how the pandemic is affecting their lives.

It was during this most recent visit that Sebastian Mumo shared his story of how the coronavirus is impacting his life.

Field Officer Dorcas met Sebastian outside his home to conduct the interview. Both Dorcas and Sebastian observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Sebastian's story, in his own words.

What is one thing that has changed in your community since the completion of the water project?

Water is life, and now with the sand dams and shallow wells in the community, community members' livelihoods have changed. We now plant vegetables for domestic use. Young men are making bricks the water in the sand dams. The rehabilitation of the areas was the sand dams had been constructed raising the water tables; hence water in the well is always available. We do not have to queue for long to get water. Our livestock also gets sufficient water improving their health.

How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?

With clean water, there few cases of waterborne diseases because the water is clean and is assured that the health of my family is protected. We also have enough water to practice washing of hands.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Kenya, has fetching water changed for you because of restrictions, new rules, or your concerns about the virus?

Yes, it has changed because now we have to follow government guidelines and make sure that at the different water sources, there are no many people and practice social distancing.

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

I would, at times, do business to take care of my family, but that is now a challenge as the demand for the products I sell is low; therefore, low income and I have had to cut expenditure on buying household goods. My children are young, and now they can not go for preschool classes.

What other challenges are you experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Meetings are restricted, affecting activities like table banking and merry go round gatherings that we attend. In the area, there are increase cases of petty theft because people do not have income.

What hygiene and sanitation steps have you and your community has taken to stop the spread of the virus?

My and family avoid crowded places and prefer staying home, we wear masks when we go out, and wash our hands with soap and water.

Like most governments around the world, the Kenyan government continues to set and adjust restrictions both nationally and regionally to help control the spread of the disease.

What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?

The movement to Cities like Nairobi, the opening of worship places like churches

What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?

Opening of schools Allowing people with over 58 years old to go to church as most of them act as advisors

When asked where he receives information about COVID-19, Sebastian listed the radio, television, newspaper, loudspeaker/megaphone announcements, word of mouth, and our team's sensitization training.

What has been the most valuable part of the COVID-19 sensitization training you received from our team?

With the training, I was reminded of the importance of _wearing masks when I have visitors at home because one may not know their health status. We learned about the importance of eating healthy and continuing handwashing.

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

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

September, 2017: Ilinge Community Sand Dam Project Complete

Ilinge 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: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

Hygiene and sanitation training reached a total of 67 community members over the course of three days. The self-help group committee was responsible for gathering all of these participants, working with staff to find the most convenient dates for all.

8 kenya4782 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

16 kenya4782 training

The trainer used an easel and poster up front to list out problems identified by community members and ideas on how to resolve them. They also listed out an action plan for households to implement hygiene and sanitation practices in their homes and greater community.

12 kenya4782 training

Pauline Mueni is one of the many farmers who attended training. She said, "During the training, we learnt about compound hygiene and how we can prevent diseases. We also learnt about food hygiene thanks to our donor for funding the training. I will dig a rubbish pit, construct a good latrine and sleep under a treated mosquito net. I will also treat drinking water as I have learnt several ways of treating water. For example, use of water guard and SODIS methods."

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.

18 kenya4782 water for construction

Water being delivered for mixing cement.

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 timber form was dismantled and the dam was left to cure.

3 kenya4766 sand dam construction

The wooden frame is holding the rocks, cement, and wiring together as it dries.

The finished height is 4.45 meters and the length is 69.7 meters. As soon as it rains, the dam will begin to build up sand and store water. However, it could take up to two years of rain for the 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.

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: Ilinge Community

September, 2018

Ndindi Ndunda’s mother insists she washes her hands before eating and after going to the bathroom. Washing her hands with water is possible thanks to the well and sand dam here.

Keeping The Water Promise

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

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

The area looks beautiful, with trees and new green growth thanks to the water point.

People are relieved that they no longer have to travel more than 3 kilometers to the Thwake River to meet their water needs, now that the dam and well are mature. One notable result is that farmers are planting trees and crops that are only possible due to reliable access to water.

"Levels of cleanliness in my home have improved due to increased access to clean water, the children shower regularly, clothes are washed thoroughly as well as the latrines," Sebastian Mumo, chairperson of the local self-help gorup said.

"A handwashing culture has developed among the majority of community members owing to water availability and the training we received."

Sebastian Mumo

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 Ilinge is changing many lives.

"Mum has taught me how to wash my hands and she always insists on keeping clean hands after visiting latrines and before eating anything," Ndindi Ndunda, a five-year-old girl said.

Ndindi Ndunda

She is also happy because she can help out her family fetch water because the well is so close to their home.

"I can fetch many times without getting tired and taking less time to the well and back home," she explained.

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 Ilinge 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 Ilinge 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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