Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2017

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/22/2024

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

Tei wa Nzung'u Self-Help Group is formed from farmers living in Nzung'u. They came together for the common purpose of helping each other harvest successful crops despite water scarcity and other challenges in the area. Nzung'u Village is located in one of the northernmost parts of Kitui, which is also one of the driest.

These farmers are motivated and encouraged by continued efforts to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene in their large village. There are 880 people living here, spread over miles of land. As more water points are constructed, more families directly benefit. (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 has made this community a great candidate for continued support in creating clean water points, and is why they are receiving their second sand dam and hand-dug well. To learn more, click here.)

Before construction of their first sand dam, members of this group would walk for four to five hours to fetch water. That has now changed, and children no longer miss school to fetch water. For most in Nzung'u, walking to their first sand dam and well takes less than thirty minutes.

Water Situation

Water in most parts of Kitui is collected from open scoop holes in their sandy, seasonal rivers. But with their first sand dam, this particular part of the river is no longer seasonal - People can access water at any time of the year. And with the addition of the hand-dug well, people are able to pump water that is safer than what's found in the scoop holes.

All 880 are drawn to the water stored at this first sand dam. Yet such a huge population puts a strain on this single resource, warranting the construction of more water sources. As you can imagine, not all of these 880 are able to wait in line at the hand-dug well.

Water is collected and transported using 20-liter plastic jerrycans. It is then loaded onto donkeys or ox-drawn carts. If a household is too poor to afford either of those, then the last resort is to carry those heavy, full containers on their backs. However, most households have at least one donkey by now. Even better, some households have recently been able to afford motorbikes.

When delivered back home, water is stored in whatever containers could be afforded. Some families can afford large plastic or iron drums of 200 liters, while others cannot afford anything but the jerrycans they use at the dam.

Water treatment has been adopted since last year's training, by either boiling or chlorinating.

Sanitation Situation

Nzung'u families have done so well with implementing their water, sanitation and hygiene action plan. Over 75% of households have sanitation facilities like latrines, bathing shelters, hand-washing stations, dish racks and clotheslines. Even more impressive, all of those hand-washing stations have a cleaning agent like ash or soap. Households have excavated pits for proper garbage disposal and compost.

The kitchen is cleaned on a daily basis, and the entire compound is swept at least every other day. You can see pictures of two different family households in this report.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Review

We will review hygiene and sanitation practices for three days. Our trainers will continue to stress the importance of treating water before consuming it. We will also strengthen the committee in charge of water point management and maintenance, equipping them with the skills to ensure there’s clean water for generations to come.

We will review food preparation, personal hygiene, and latrine maintenance.

The group members who have not yet constructed a hand-washing station will be reminded of its importance in preventing communicable diseases.

Plans: Sand Dam

The Nzung'u Self-Help Group has decided that this second sand dam and hand-dug well system should be constructed further down the river. This will reach group members living farthest away from the first project. The second dam is warranted, as Nzung'u needs more than one water source to serve more people. Their proposed site for this second sand dam was verified by our technical team and found to be suitable. The fact that they are using water from the first dam to grow vegetables also motivated ASDF to support a second system. We estimate that the sand dam will be 34.3 meters long and 4.3 meters high.

As the sand dam matures, it will build up sand and naturally filter the river’s water and the rainwater supplied during the rainy season.

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.

When visiting the first sand dam, we met 60-year-old farmer Catherine Kasyoka Mwendwa. "Seeing my group members access clean water makes me happy. Take for example my colleague here Masaa Kyomu. She has a toddler. It gives me satisfaction that words can't describe when she doesn't struggle with water collection. This kind of impact makes us work hard on these water projects and motivates us to continue collaborating with ASDF. This projects make us happy," she shared.

Project Updates

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Nzung'u Community

Our teams are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us in our fight against the virus while maintaining access to clean, reliable water.

We are carrying out awareness and prevention trainings on the virus in every community we serve. Very often, our teams are the first (and only) to bring news and information of the virus to rural communities like Nzung'u, Kenya.

We trained community members on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19.

Due to public gathering concerns, we worked with trusted community leaders to gather a select group of community members who would then relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

We covered essential hygiene lessons:

- Demonstrations on how to build a simple handwashing station

- Proper handwashing technique

- The importance of using soap and clean water for handwashing

- Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces including at the water point.

We covered COVID-19-specific guidance in line with national and international standards:

- Information on the symptoms and transmission routes of COVID-19

- What social distancing is and how to practice it

- How to cough into an elbow

- Alternative ways to greet people without handshakes, fist bumps, etc.

- How to make and properly wear a facemask.

During training, we installed a new handwashing station with soap near the community’s water point,

Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we also dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the disease and provide extra information where needed.

Water access, sanitation, and hygiene are at the crux of disease prevention. You can directly support our work on the frontlines of COVID-19 prevention in all of the communities we serve while maintaining their access to safe, clean, and reliable water.

September, 2018: A Year Later: Nzung'u Community Sand Dam

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

October, 2017: Nzung'u Community Sand Dam Complete

Nzung'u 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 a review on hygiene and sanitation, 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 Review

Hygiene and sanitation review was held on a self-help group member's land, inside and outside of her home. We worked with the already established water and sanitation committee to invite participants.

5 kenya4772 training

The group requested that we focus on the following topics:

- Food hygiene: Properly handling food until it's consumed, which includes preparation, cooking, and storage

- Personal hygiene: Hand-washing and other practices

- Water hygiene: Properly collecting, transporting, storing, and treating water

Participants gathered into groups of five to discuss the sanitation ladder and compound hygiene. Each group presented on what they discussed, and then everyone analyzed the material and made any needed corrections. We used posters and drawings to review disease transmissions routes and all of the ways to block them.

4 kenya4772 training

When covering hand-washing, we asked one member to remind the rest about each step. The listeners certainly weren't shy to bring up anything they forgot!

Due to recent outbreaks of cholera in some parts of Kenya, a training session on cholera was done to keep these people from also becoming victims.

There was also an activity that taught group members how to make their own soap. The soap will serve three different purposes:

-Sanitize hands and protect people from germs
-Unlock opportunities for group profit: A total of 40 liters of soap was made during training, much of which the members plan to sell to neighbors in their community and at markets
-Increase household income: Some group members plan to teach the other adults in their households how to make this soap, turning it into a regular business

The training staff was sure to share on how to best procure materials and set fair prices for this soap.

2 kenya4772 training

Making Soap

We got to talk to Louise Kisovo, a farmer, after our review. "We thank you. We have learnt an income-generating activity (soap making) which we will now undertake to improve our income. I learnt about the need of a latrine and a bathroom in a homestead. I have also learnt a lot about food hygiene and water hygiene. I will continue to treat my drinking water using water guard," she said with thankfulness.

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.

8 kenya4772 construction

Trenches are dug to specific measurements decided by ASDF engineers.

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.

9 kenya4772 construction

The finished height is 4.3 meters and the length is 34.3 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 (Because sometimes it only rains once a year!) 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.

Famine slowed this process down because people were too hungry and tired to work. ASDF staff supported the group as best they could, delivering food when possible. We're grateful that everyone persevered; the extra effort made during this short time will pay off with clean water and fertile land long into the future.

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: Nzung'u Community

September, 2018

“The availability of clean drinking water is aiding in the building of a healthy community,” Musya Muthengi said.

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Nzung'u Community 2A.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Nzung'u Community 2A 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 Nzung'u 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 long journeys to Nuu River in search of water have ended since the installation of this water point," Kasyoka Mwendwa, chairperson of the local self-help group, said.

"This has relieved many women in our village the fatigue associated with fetching water now that water is always available at a stone's throw distance from our homesteads."

It is a remarkable change for people who had to travel more than 4 kilometers just to fetch water. There is a palpable excitement in the community. People are preparing crops and undertaking other new activities in anticipation of the sand dam producing even more water!

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 Nzung'u is changing many lives.

Mature sand dam

"Since the installation of this project my personal hygiene has greatly improved, taking shower on a daily basis as water is available in adequate volumes and thus no need for rationing at the household level," Musya Muthengi said.

The excess water is also making it easier for Musya to feed his cattle. They used to have to go days without going to a water point to drink, but now the animals get water every day after grazing in the fields. He also noted the benefit for families.

"Small children enjoy the fun of drawing water from the well as its looks interesting to them. Such an opportunity has only been presented through the installation of the water point near their homes. The availability of clean drinking water is aiding in the building of a healthy community," he 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 Nzung'u Community 2A 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 Nzung'u Community 2A – 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 - Yakima Foursquare Church
1 individual donor(s)