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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

Ndineesi Uu Self-Help Group was formed in the year 2004 and registered in the year 2007. During the time of formation, they only had six members. Now, the current membership stands at 39. The group has appointed a leadership committee of nine members: five male and four female.

Members of the group come from the following villages: Katuluni, Kanyekini and Mwambui. The region has a total population of 2,314 people. The average household size is six members.

(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 relationship with this group and plan to support them to do multiple water projects over the next couple of years until adequate water is available. To learn more, click here.)

58% of the group members earn less than 3,000 shillings a month, with 29% earning between 3,100 and 10,000 and only 13% earning above 10,000. This is because most people depend on farming as their main source of income, with farming dependent on the seasons that may or may not bring rain. Some other people depend on casual labor, but that’s only when there is work available on other people’s farms! There is high poverty here.

Water Situation

It is most common to collect water from open scoop holes in sandy, seasonal rivers using 20-liter plastic jerrycans. The jerrycans are then loaded onto donkeys or ox-drawn carts. If a household is too poor to afford one of those, then they must carry their water home on their backs. However, most households will have at least one donkey. Households that can afford it use motorbikes to carry water home.

This water is open to contaminants from many different sources. Livestock brought back and forth drink freely from the hole, often relieving themselves somewhere along the way. When it rains, even more waste is washed into this water source, not to mention the dirt itself that erodes and muddies the water.

There is rampant waterborne disease and the resulting treatment costs are huge, especially for these families that make so little. Long hours are spent walking to and lining up at the scoop holes.

Sanitation Situation

Most households here have a pit latrine, but there are a few families who haven’t afforded the time or materials to build their own. Because of this, open defecation still affects the entire community as certain people repeatedly resort to the privacy of bushes to relieve themselves. This waste is then spread by flies, wild animals, and rainwater.

Over a quarter of homes have a hand-washing station set up, proving that there is knowledge of proper hygiene but perhaps not enough motivation. There were some dish racks and clotheslines, but most households still need these helpful tools to safely dry their belongings up off the ground.

76-year-old Joseph Kitheka echoed what we saw, saying, “We have some idea of what ought to be done to improve the health status in this village but we don’t take it seriously because we are used to this kind of life. However, all we need is a little sensitization in form of a training and we will be good to go.”

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

To address gaps in hygiene and sanitation practices in Ikulya 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.

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. This particular sand dam is projected to be 76.4 meters long and 4.76 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).

Recent Project Updates

11/02/2017: Ikulya Community Sand Dam Complete

Ikulya 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

There were four days of strong CLTS hygiene and sanitation training in Ikulya. CLTS was important here because of the high level of open defecation and how it’s contaminating the environment.

Total attendance grew each day from 20 to 35 individuals. The first day, we went on a transect walk to map the community, identify problem spots, households, and water sources. This was an eye-opening day for the community members as they realized just how many areas open defecation was being done.

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Community members on a transect walk to identify hygiene and sanitation problem areas.

The next day, we helped the community calculate the amount of waste their producing along with the total costs in medical bills. The cost of properly disposing of waste and other contaminants is far less than what is spent on treatment for related illnesses.

Day three, we showed what happens to water as it’s contaminated. We made the contamination process very visual for the participants and then asked them if they’d still drink the water. Most were extremely revolted and refused, as they realized that’s what’s happening to their water too.

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We gathered with plastic chairs at a homestead to do group discussion on the role of flies in contamination. While flies are attracted to different types of contamination, they are also attracted to the kitchen when food is cooking! Community members learned about all of the connections between their different activities and possible contaminants.

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The final day of training, we taught how to build a hand-washing station and how to wash hands with soap. We also taught how to make soap, which will serve many different purposes beyond just hand-washing. Group members plan to make this soap to sell to their neighbors, increasing their household income. And last but not least, we made an action plan with the community. We talked about when it would be viable to implement everything they learned, and we scheduled our follow-up visits to ensure they were following through with the plan.

51-year-old Martha Musyoki said, “The training was a very nice one, with a lot of things that impressed me: For example, the transect walk. It felt very unpleasant, but very educative. Also, visiting the open defication areas, especially those along water sources was a challenging idea. It felt uneasy and vey shameful when we were demonstrating the bottle of water because we understood clearly how feces contaminate our drinking water. I have gained a new idea of soap-making which will help me do business of selling the soap to my neighborhoods and get some little money…”

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Martha Musyoki

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.

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The finished height is 4.7 meters and the length is 76.2 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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10/24/2017: Corresponding with Ikulya, Kenya

Thank You for your patience as we gather information about the work done in Ikulya, Kenya. We are excited because we’ve received confirmation that construction is indeed done (check out the attached picture)! However, we’re still receiving details and pictures of hygiene and sanitation training and the construction process. As soon as we have it all, we’ll reach out again with a final report.

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07/18/2017: Ikulya Community Sand Dam Underway

Ikulya 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 review training to to be reminded of 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, Ikulya
ProjectID: 4773
Install Date:  10/15/2017


Project Sponsor - The Blake Belknap Family
Waterford Union High School
2 individual donor(s)

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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.