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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

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.

Recent Project Updates

10/04/2017: 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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07/14/2017: Nzung'u Community Sand Dam Underway

Nzung’u Community in Kenya will be further transformed by the construction of a second sand dam. The dam will help raise the water table in the area, providing clean water and helping agriculture. The community will also attend hygiene and sanitation review training to remember 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:  Kitui, Nzung'u
ProjectID: 4772
Install Date:  10/04/2017


Project Sponsor - Yakima Foursquare Church

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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.