Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Dec 2017

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/03/2024

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

Ikanga Self-Help Group was formed in the year 2016 with a mission of constructing gabions in Thwake River. They wanted these to harvest water and then pipe it to tanks at their home compounds. As of yet, no construction has been completed.

The group now has 27 members who come from Kasioni and Ngaa Villages, which have a combined population of 4,220 people. The mean age of group members is 44, and the average size of each household is six.

(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. This community is a great candidate for ASDF's five-year development plan. To learn more, click here.)

When asked about food security in their homes, 80% said that they hadn't faced any food challenges for the last three months. Another 20% said that they survive on borrowing food and restrict adults from taking food so that children can eat first.

46% of the respondents earn more than 10,000 shillings a month while 27% earn between 3,000 and 10,000 shillings, and the last 27% earn less than 3,000 shillings. With an average family size of six, this calls for intervention to improve both income and food production.

Members of this group heard about us from Kyeni Self-Help Group, who we've been working with for a while. They then approached our field officer Mr. Benson Kituku with a request for support. Members of Ikanga had already helped us build sand dams with two other groups in the area, so the project approval process was much faster.

Water Situation

Most of the group members have hooked up plastic tanks to harvest rainwater off their roofs, while the rest walk to River Thwake. However, it's important to note that rainwater can only be harvested during three rainy months each year. The rest of the year, these people join their neighbors in traveling to the river.

At the river, holes must be dug in the riverbed to reach water. Certain holes are used for watering livestock, while others are set aside just for human consumption. Most often, an adult will bring along a 20-liter jerrycan. If their family has a donkey or ox-drive cart, they will use these to carry even more water. A typical donkey can haul four full 20-liter jerrycans.

Water harvested at home is safe for drinking, but the water from scoop holes at the river is contaminated. These holes are open to contamination from surface runoff, erosion, and human activity.

After drinking this contaminated water, people suffer from waterborne diseases and the resulting treatment costs. Common diseases include amoeba, typhoid, bilharzia, and ringworm.

Sanitation Situation

100% of group member have a pit latrine, and report that their neighbors have one also. The conditions of these latrines depend on the economic status of each family, and we were happy to find that many families making over 10,000 shillings a month have been able to invest in VIP (ventilated improved pit) latrines. Some others lack doors, but just have a curtain hanging in the opening. Because of this full latrine coverage, open defecation is not an issue in these two villages.

A little under half of households have a hand-washing station installed outside their latrine. Most have a designated area for throwing garbage though some still need to dig a pit. A few households have other helpful tools like dish racks and clotheslines to dry their belongings safely of the ground.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

Since this is our first hygiene and sanitation training in Kasioni, training will be held for three days. The members will learn about useful practices and tools to improve health, and will be encouraged 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

Their first proposed site for a sand dam in Kataluni was also approved by our technical team because there is firm bedrock and wide banks. This particular sand dam is projected to be 89.2 meters long and 4.8 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 dams mature and build up more sand, the water tables will rise. Along with these sand dams, hand-dug wells will be installed to give locals a good, safe way to access that water.

With these projects, clean water will be brought closer to hundreds living around Kasioni.

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

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

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

December, 2017: Kasioni Community Sand Dam Complete

Kasioni 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 one of the members' most comfortable homesteads. Attendance was very good for the three days; group members also heavily participated in drafting and approving an action plan to implement everything they learned.

Discussing different ways to construct a latrine

Some of those topics were as follows:

- identifying health problems

- investigating practices

- differences between good and bad behaviors

- how diseases spread

- choosing sanitation improvements and hygiene behaviors

- hand-washing

- planning for change

We used role plays, lecture, demonstrations, and group discussions to teach about many new things: personal hygiene like hand-washing and toothbrushing; water handling like storage and treatment; sanitation facilities like latrines, dish racks, clotheslines, and compost pits. On the last day of training, we taught participants how to make a hand-washing station out of all easily accessible and affordable local materials.

Building a hand-washing station

Hand in hand with the training on constructing a hand-washing station was a tutorial on how to make your own soap:

Participants took turns stirring the soap during the demonstration

55-year-old chairman of the group, John Ngumbi, said "It was a very good and educative training. It has taught us a lot of beneficial things that we should be doing but we have not been doing. I have learned other hygiene practices like cleaning the home compound, food hygiene, water treatment, having a rubbish pit and having a tippy tap to wash our hands at after using latrines. I have also enjoyed the exercise of soap making. Apart from it being an additional knowledge, it’s an activity that will enable us as a group make a lot of money and improve our income."

John Ngumbi

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.

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 4.8 meters and the length is 89.2 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.

November, 2017: Kasioni Community Sand Dam Underway

Kasioni 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 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!

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: Kasioni Community

September, 2018

It has also become an enjoyable task to fetch water at the shallow well because it takes less time and is also a shorter distance.

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kasioni 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 Kasioni 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 Lilian Kendi with you.

Community members are in a euphoric state since the completion of their sand dam and well. A consistent, sufficient supply of water in their area has enabled them to farm different crops such as bananas, maize, kale, spinach and pawpaws. These families are now thankful for food security.

The majority of the community members wash their hands with clean water before eating meals as well as after visiting latrines. This has led to lower disease prevalence among the community members.

We spoke with Mr. John Ngumbi and Mrs. Bendetta Muinde about other developments since the project last year.

From left to right: Mrs. Bendetta Nduku Nuinde, Lilian Kendi, Mr. John Ngumbi

"This water project has helped members of this community greatly because we can farm easily. There is plenty of water flowing along the riverbed which is easy to tap for farming activities. We harvested the first vegetables from our [group] farm and sold them to the community members. We have also planted grass for our livestock," said Mr. Ngumbi.

Mr. Ngumbi pumping water

"The distance covered to access water is less, and it is less time-consuming because there are less lines. It takes between 10 and 15 minutes there and back. "

Mrs. Muinde proudly kneels by the pump she and her neighbors have relied on for the past year.

Mrs. Muinde echoed Mr. Ngumbi's comments.

"Water is a very important part of life," she said.

"In all honesty, the environment has changed. It is cooler, fresher and greener. It has also become an enjoyable task to fetch water at the shallow well because it takes less time and is also a shorter distance."

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.

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 Kasioni 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 Kasioni 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.


Project Sponsor - Barbara Belle Ash Dougan Foundation