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The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Finished Sand Dam
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Finished Sand Dam
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Finished Sand Dam
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Finished Sand Dam
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Finished Sand Dam
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Finished Sand Dam
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Finished Sand Dam
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Finished Sand Dam
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Finished Sand Dam
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Sand Dam Construction
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Sand Dam Construction
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Sand Dam Construction
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Sand Dam Construction
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Sand Dam Construction
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Sand Dam Construction
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Sand Dam Construction
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Sand Dam Construction
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Day Four Training
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Day Four Training
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Day Four Training
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Day Four Training
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Day Three Training
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Day Three Training
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Day Three Training
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Day Two Training
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Day Two Training
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Day Two Training
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Day Two Training
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Transect Walk
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Transect Walk
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Day One Training
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Day One Training
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Day One Training
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Open Well In Riverbed
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Open Well In Riverbed
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Agnes Homestead
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Agnes Kitchen
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Agnes Latrine
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Agnes Mwende Homestead
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Tabitha And Agnes
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Agnes Mwende
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Tabitha At Home
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Tabitha And Mother
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Tabitha Munywoki
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Tabitha Munywoki At Her Latrine
The Water Project: Nzalae Community -  Tabitha Munywoki

Project Status



Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  Installed - Jan 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/26/2018

Project Features


Click icons to learn about each feature.



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

Katalwa Jipe Moyo Self-Help Group was formed in 2009 and later registered in 2013. It currently has 24 female members, making it an all women’s group. Most of the women are from Katalwa Village which has a population of 43 people. Their larger area is home to 2,256 people.

The average age of these women is 53 years, and their average household size is six.

Their main reason for forming was for social welfare activities, farm terracing, table banking and poultry keeping.

Water Situation

Water in most parts of Kitui County is collected from scoop holes in sandy riverbeds. There’s no water flowing aboveground, but if community members dig deep enough they’ll find it. This is no exception for the women of Katalwa Jipe Moyo, who walk to the Katalwa kwa Kutu River to fetch water for drinking, cleaning, cooking, and all other needs. However, they do have an unprotected shallow well located in the riverbed that gives them a select place to fetch water. When not being used, a cover is placed over the hole. When being used, a bucket is lowered for water and raised with a rope.

20-liter jerrycans are filled and transported on dokey or ox-drawn carts. Other households are able to afford motorbikes – people are getting really good at balancing heavy loads as they ride their motorbikes! But those who cannot afford any of the above must resort to hefting these heavy containers on their backs.

The unprotected well has a large contamination entry point at the hatch. This open well does not keep bugs or litter out of the water, and the bucket and rope themselves directly introduce new contaminants.

Rampant waterborne disease is a daily reality for people who rely on this dirty water for drinking. Any money that was saved from farming is instead used on treating these sicknesses.

Sanitation Situation

We were able to visit with Agnes Mwende and Tabitha Munywoki at their neighboring homesteads to talk about hygiene and sanitation in their community.

A little over half of households have at least some sort of pit latrine, though most of the lack doors and just have a curtain hanging in the opening. The materials used for the latrine walls depend on a household’s economic status. But because so many people still don’t have their own latrine, open defecation is an issue in this community. Waste left out in the open like this attracts flies that spread germs throughout the community, endangering all.

A handful of hand-washing stations were seen, along with dish racks and clotheslines for drying things safely off the ground. Half of households dispose of their garbage in an open area, while only a third have a pit.

As for water hygiene, 20 out of 23 people surveyed don’t treat their drinking water.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

To address gaps in hygiene and sanitation practices in Nzalae 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. Open defecation certainly won’t be overlooked; everyone will be aware of how not using a latrine endangers the entire community. Since it’s such an issue here, we will be leading the community through CLTS (community-led total sanitation).

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. It will be located in neighboring Nzalae Community, since this is actually most central for all self-help group members. This particular sand dam is projected to be 50.6 meters long and 4.25 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).

Agnes Mwende told us, “We have consumed dirty water all our lives. But this is a sure answer to better health and less waterborne diseases in our village. When we saw cement being delivered on site, we saw God. We can’t be more grateful!”

Project Updates


01/11/2018: Nzalae Community Sand Dam Complete

Nzalae 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

The training officers communicated with self-help group committee members to plan four days of hygiene and sanitation training. Total attendance was wonderful, with both the area chief and his assistant chief there. It was held at Janet Musili’s homestead, which was a central meeting point for participants.

The first day was set aside for sharing expectations, discussing issues common to Nzalae, and taking a transect walk. This walk around the community and its homesteads revealed both the strengths and the weaknesses that we would need to focus on the next few days.

On the transect walk

The next day, we met to talk about how much waste the community generates, and how much that waste can then contaminate the environment and cause illnesses. We also calculated the medical costs to show that yes, properly disposing of waste is worth it! It may require capital investment when building a latrine, but community members will save money in the long run.

The third day we focused on the transmission of germs. How are germs spread, and how can we build barriers for those routes?

Last but certainly not least, we gathered together to make an action plan for implementing all of these new things. We also taught how to build hand-washing stations and how to make soap.

Mixing soap

69-year-old Jedidah Mue expressed her gratefulness by saying, “It was a good training. There are two activities that we did during the training: the transect walk and the water contamination activity that have challenged us to construct latrines. I’m sure that open defecation will no longer be practiced in our area. Calculation of medical bills has made us realize that we spend a lot of money for treatment that we are supposed to be utilizing on developing ourselves. During elections, I spent over 8,000 shillings on treatment. This was as a result of drinking dirty water. From the knowledge I have gained, I’m sure that our water has been contaminated with feces. I have already started warning my family not to practice open defecation and lied to the young ones that some police officers have been deployed to monitor those defecating in the open.”

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!

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.

Digging a trench down to the bedrock

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.

The finished height is 4.25 meters and the length is 50.6 meters. As soon as it rains, the dam will begin to build up sand and store water. With this water, the surrounding landscape will become lush and fertile. 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.

Jedidah Mue said, “We are very grateful because of the new water source that we have through the help of ASDF. We could walk for around eight kilometers to get water. Our water will no longer be contaminated because the hand-dug well is fully covered. From the knowledge that we’ve gained, we now know how to take care of our water sources through using latrines.” None of this would be possible without the water a sand dam brings!


The Water Project : 30-kenya4767-finished-sand-dam


11/13/2017: Nzalae Community Sand Dam Underway

Nzalae Community in Kenya will soon be transformed by the construction of a sand dam. The dam will build up sand and eventually catch rainwater to 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 improve health. We just posted an initial report including information about the community, maps, and pictures. We’ll keep you posted as the work continues!


The Water Project : 11-kenya4767-open-well-in-riverbed


Project Photos


Project Type

Sand Dam

Seasonal streams (and the sand they carry) are trapped by dams, replenishing the water table and allowing for adjacent hand-dug wells. Almost completely led by community-supplied sweat and materials, and under the supervision of engineers, dams are strategically placed within those dry river-beds. The next time it rains, flood-waters are trapped.

With a sand dam, this trapped sand begins to hold millions of gallons of rainwater. Soon enough, sand reaches the top of the dam, allowing water to continue downstream – where it meets the next dam. The result? A regional water table is restored.



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