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The Water Project : 4-kenya4770-training
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The Water Project : 11-kenya4770-mulatya-latrines
The Water Project : 10-kenya4770-dish-rack
The Water Project : 9-kenya4770-catching-rainwater
The Water Project : 8-kenya4770-water-containers
The Water Project : 7-kenya4770-angelica-mulatya
The Water Project : 6-kenya4770-rose-nduku-hand-washing
The Water Project : 5-kenya4770-kitchen
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The Water Project : 3-kenya4770-first-sand-dam
The Water Project : 2-kenya4770-rose-nduku-water-storage
The Water Project : 1-kenya4770-water-containers
The Water Project : 9-kenya4770-benjamin-household
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The Water Project : 7-kenya4770-benjamin-household-watering-plants
The Water Project : 6-kenya4770-benjamin-household
The Water Project : 4-kenya4770-justina-pius-household-latrine
The Water Project : 3-kenya4770-justina-pius-and-her-jerrycans
The Water Project : 2-kenya4770-justina-pius-gathering-her-water-containers
The Water Project : 1-kenya4770-justina-pius-household-kitchen

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

The Masola Kaani Self-Help Group was formed in the year 2011 and has grown to a group of 49 farmers.

The main reason for forming the group was to bolster the economic prosperity of its members. These families live in one of the most densely populated areas of this county, which has a total population of 3,000 people. (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 five-year partnership with this community to construct accessible clean water points. To learn more, click here.) Originally, the area was famous for its massive production of vegetables, thanks to the River Ikiwe that could provide enough water for many crops. The group’s priority was to increase the harvest of vegetables so they could sell more and earn more. However, in the last years, drastic changes happened.

Their main source of water, River Ikiwe, eroded and no longer provided water throughout the year. This affected the availability of water for farming, for domestic use and other household water requirements. Many of the people that had been employed on vegetable farms had been rendered jobless, and many families struggled to meet their daily income needs. Longer queues at the water points and higher prices for buying drinking water became normal experiences. A jerrycan of water (20 liters) cost 30 shillings during the dry season; a price which many households cannot afford. By coming together, the group hopes construct several sand dams along the river channel. These will be used to provide water for all their household and agricultural needs, and restore the jobs that were lost.

Water Situation

The group finished their first sand dam (picture included on this page) last year, and it’s been a great success:

Benjamin Makewa, 63 years old, is one of the members of Masola Kaani Self-Help Group. He is a retired teacher and a farmer in his village. Benjamin shared with us about the first dam, saying, “We are thankful to our donor and we are ready to work on many [more] projects. We have benefited alot from the water harvested from the sand dam. We have planted vegetables (sukuma wiki, cabbage, and tomatoes) which we sell and earn income for our group. We no longer suffer from waterborne diseases. Some of the income we get from the sale of the vegetables is used to buy waterguard for all group members. This is meant to ensure that every group member treats his or her drinking water.”

Everyone travels to the oasis that the first sand dam has created (you can find the picture on this page) . There is also a hand-dug well there that pumps clean drinking water. Though this is a blessing to all, there are still community members living far away who not only have to wait for the crowds at the dam, but have to walk that long distance to and from. We visited two of those households to learn about their water, sanitation and hygiene needs. Check out the pictures from our tours with Rose Nduku and Angelica Mulatya.

Homes that can afford pack animals have them, loading them up with 20-liter jerrycans. Those who can’t have no other choice but to carry containers on their backs. Luckily, most households have at least one donkey.

Water quality tests have been done on the hand-dug well’s water, and they came back with zero coliform. The group is excited that as they build more dams and wells further down the river, they will bring more clean water to even more people in the villages of Kyanzasu and Kaani.

Sanitation Situation

Since the beginning of our relationship with these villages, we’ve seen pit latrine coverage go from 75% to 100%. The quality of these structure depend on the economic status of each household; the more money they can spare, the more permanent the structure. Some even have a cloth curtain hanging as a door. Because of this complete coverage, open defecation is no longer an issue here.

Now, over half of households have hand-washing stations, though the majority still needs to construct helpful tools like dish racks and clotheslines.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

The group will meet for one day to review weaknesses in their practice of hygiene and sanitation. The trainer has visited with and talked to these households, and they’ve agreed together that they should go over latrine care and hand-washing.

Hand-washing will be highlighted as one of the most effective ways to prevent disease, and locals will be taught how to build their own hand-washing station. The construction and use of latrines will also be strongly encouraged, and the group will agree on a plan to implement what they learned.

Plans: Sand Dam

The group has selected a spot down the river for their second sand dam, and our technical team has already verified the technical viability of this location.  This second dam is projected to be 89.2 meters long and 4.8 meters high.

This new dam will bring more water to families living far away from the first sand dam. 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

10/18/2017: Kaani Community Sand Dam Complete

Kaani Community now has a new clean water system thanks to your generous 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 review, 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

A hygiene and sanitation review session was held for the members of Masola Kaani Self-Help Group after a follow-up visit to assess current gaps in their practices and behaviors at home. Our trainer also took requests for particular topics the group wanted to review.

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Some of these included:

-Food hygiene

-Personal hygiene

-Water hygiene and water treatment

-Compound hygiene

-Disease transmission routes

-Hand-washingSanitation ladder

-How to prevent cholera

-And finally, they requested to learn how to make soap

Due to current cholera outbreaks in some parts of Kenya, the group members were taken through a brief training focusing on cholera. We went through the signs and symptoms of cholera, how cholera is transmitted, and how it can be prevented. Our trainer presented, facilitated review, and arranged participants in groups to discuss some of these topics. Each group got a piece of poster paper to enable them to review and draw out the disease transmission process, and then brainstorm the ways to build barriers to disease.

We polled group members and found that every family represented has a latrine, more than half have hand-washing stations, and 15 out of 20 families are treating their water before drinking. For those who are missing facilities or not treating water, we made an action plan to see these items realized.

In order to improve and promote sanitation and hygiene of community members, the group was taken through the soap-making process. This liquid soap is used in schools, hotels, at the household levels etc. Soap-making will not only improve their sanitation and hygiene but will also function as an income-generating activity to boost their finances. The initial investment of soap making materials (ingredients), enough to make 60 liters of soap, was provided by us. Community members provided water and containers for their soap.

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The trainer oversees as community members try their hand at making soap for the first time.

The group was very excited to participate in this activity. Each group member took turns to participate in every stage of the process. The members agreed to sell the soap at 40 shillings per liter, and they all agreed that additional ingredients will be bought at Masii Town.

63-year-old Benjamin Makewa is one of the members of Masola Kaani. He is a retired teacher and a farmer in his village. Benjamin had this to say about the training: “The training was good, we have reviewed the training on PHAST that we learnt ealier this year. We will now earn more income from the soap-making business and also improve hygiene in our families. We are thankful to our donor and we are ready to work on many projects.”

ASDF_Masola Kaani SHG_PHAST Refresher_Benjamin Makewa, 63 (2)

Mr. Makewa

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!

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Community members collecting sand and beginning the trenching process.

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.

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The finished height is 5.7 meters and the length is 47.9 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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The only challenge was the weather; right after foundation excavation, rains pounded the village and its river, flooding the trench and halting work for two months.

The group’s committee is now entirely responsible for management and maintenance of this project. They are armed with both technical skills and social skills for proper project management. Any gaps that exist can be identified through ASDF’s monitoring visits (which are always ongoing), and corrective measures will be planned through continued engagement and trainings.

Mr. Makewa also reflected on the impact sand dams are having on his environment, saying, “We have benefited alot from the water harvested in the sand dam. We have planted vegetables (sukuma wiki, cabbage and tomatoes) which we sell and earn income for our group.” This sand dam will continue to unlock the potential of hundreds of families living in this area.

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08/21/2017: Kaani Community Sand Dam Underway

Kaani 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!

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Explore More of The Project

Project Photos

Project Data

Project Type:  Sand Dam
Location:  Machakos, Iveti, Kaani
ProjectID: 4770
Install Date:  10/15/2017


Project Sponsor - Jadetree Foundation

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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.