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Location: Kenya

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 84 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

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!

Recent Project Updates

09/06/2017: 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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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06/27/2017: Ilinge Community Sand Dam Underway

Ilinge 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!

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Explore More of The Project

Project Photos

Project Data

Project Type:  Sand Dam
Location:  Machakos, Mwala, Masii, Mithini, Ilinge
ProjectID: 4766
Install Date:  09/06/2017


Wesleyan School Students
Turning Point Christian School
Remnant Youth Ministry, EHT NJ
Peshtemal Style
Data Abstract Solutions, Inc.
Mrs. Bousquet's Second Grade Class
Clinton and Cheri Medeiros for Dakota
Brownie Girl Scout Troop 40178
Bertolucci/ Kelley families
Southern California Texas A&M Club
Mrs. Rosenquist's 5th Grade
Girl Scout Troop
Sameer and Madeeha
Native Foods Cafe
Usman Family
Tina Eid
Christ Outreach Church Women of Faith
96 individual donor(s)

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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.