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: 12/26/2022

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

Mwanyani Self-Help Group started in the year 2016 and now has a membership of 84 people, of which 36 are male and 52 are female. The name Mwanyani means "space," and the group adopted this name because it’s located between hills. The group is located in Ilinge Village, Mithini, Masii, Mwala of Machakos County. The average household size of group members is seven, while the average age of the group members is 45.

37% of the members said that their main source of income is casual labor, while 33% depend on farming as their sole source of income. 17% said that they rely on a salary at the end of the month, and the other 8% have small businesses which act as their main source of income. A small percent relies on selling livestock.

40% get an average monthly income of more than 10,000 shillings while the rest earn much less. 38% earn less than 3,000 shillings.

Water Situation

The group built their first sand dam and hand-dug well system earlier this year. Whether living near or far, all group members are walking to the oasis this first system has created. Some of these sand dams are truly the only water available for miles.

Drinking water is collected from a protected hand-dug well adjacent to the sand dam.

Water used for cleaning and watering animals is still drawn from holes dug in the riverbed, to avoid overcrowding at the well.

Most adults use 20-liter plastic jerrycans, which are 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 the water on their backs. However, most households will have at least one donkey. Of late, households that can afford it use motorbikes to carry their water home.

Once delivered home, water is poured in different storage containers depending on intended use. Some water is poured in barrels near the latrine, and a lot is sent to the kitchen. Some families have been able to afford small rainwater catchment tanks, and water can also be poured in there for storage. It’s also common to keep a covered clay pot in the living area so that guests have cool water to drink.

Sanitation Situation

Group members attended hygiene and sanitation training earlier this year, too. We visited the households of Rose Paul and Janet Mbatha to get a good idea of how the community has changed since training.

We are happy to report that 100% of these families now have a pit latrine. 100% also have a hand-washing station, each with a cleaning agent like soap or ash available. The majority have useful tools like dish racks and clotheslines.

The kitchen is always cleaned on a daily basis, and most people also clean the rest of their compound at the same time. After our checkup on these households, we're happy to report that the group is on time with implementing their hygiene and sanitation action plan.

Since these group members were already trained earlier this year, they're slated for a review training in February of 2018.

Plans: Sand Dam

The group has selected a spot down the river from their first sand dam, and our technical team has already verified the technical viability of this location.

This second dam is projected to be 69.7 meters long and 4.45 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.

Project Updates

08/28/2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Sebastian Mumo

This post is part of a new series by The Water Project meant to highlight the perspectives and experiences of the people we serve and how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them. We invite you to read more of their stories here.

Our team recently visited Ilinge Community to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point. Shortly after, we returned to check in on the community, offer a COVID-19 refresher training, and ask how the pandemic is affecting their lives.

It was during this most recent visit that Sebastian Mumo shared his story of how the coronavirus is impacting his life.

Field Officer Dorcas met Sebastian outside his home to conduct the interview. Both Dorcas and Sebastian observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Sebastian's story, in his own words.

What is one thing that has changed in your community since the completion of the water project?

Water is life, and now with the sand dams and shallow wells in the community, community members' livelihoods have changed. We now plant vegetables for domestic use. Young men are making bricks the water in the sand dams. The rehabilitation of the areas was the sand dams had been constructed raising the water tables; hence water in the well is always available. We do not have to queue for long to get water. Our livestock also gets sufficient water improving their health.

How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?

With clean water, there few cases of waterborne diseases because the water is clean and is assured that the health of my family is protected. We also have enough water to practice washing of hands.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Kenya, has fetching water changed for you because of restrictions, new rules, or your concerns about the virus?

Yes, it has changed because now we have to follow government guidelines and make sure that at the different water sources, there are no many people and practice social distancing.

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

I would, at times, do business to take care of my family, but that is now a challenge as the demand for the products I sell is low; therefore, low income and I have had to cut expenditure on buying household goods. My children are young, and now they can not go for preschool classes.

What other challenges are you experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Meetings are restricted, affecting activities like table banking and merry go round gatherings that we attend. In the area, there are increase cases of petty theft because people do not have income.

What hygiene and sanitation steps have you and your community has taken to stop the spread of the virus?

My and family avoid crowded places and prefer staying home, we wear masks when we go out, and wash our hands with soap and water.

Like most governments around the world, the Kenyan government continues to set and adjust restrictions both nationally and regionally to help control the spread of the disease.

What restriction were you most excited to see lifted already?

The movement to Cities like Nairobi, the opening of worship places like churches

What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?

Opening of schools Allowing people with over 58 years old to go to church as most of them act as advisors

When asked where he receives information about COVID-19, Sebastian listed the radio, television, newspaper, loudspeaker/megaphone announcements, word of mouth, and our team's sensitization training.

What has been the most valuable part of the COVID-19 sensitization training you received from our team?

With the training, I was reminded of the importance of _wearing masks when I have visitors at home because one may not know their health status. We learned about the importance of eating healthy and continuing handwashing.

09/20/2018: A Year Later: Ilinge Community Sand Dam

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

12/21/2017: Ilinge Community Sand Dam Complete

Ilinge 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 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: House Visits

Earlier this year, Mwanyani Self-Help Group worked hard to finish a sand dam and well system, during which they met three days in a row for a hygiene and sanitation training. There, they learned about basic practices, behaviors, and tools they can use to improve their health. At the end of these sessions, members drafted and agreed to an action plan to implement everything they learned.

Since this first training was in March, we decided to make follow-up visits during the course of this project. 11 participant households were selected randomly to check for:

- water treatment

- hand-washing stations

- food handling habits

- latrines, dish racks, rubbish pits, and an animal shed

- personal hygiene practices

Through observation and interview, we found that:

- 91% of households are cleaned daily

- 91% have hand-washing stations with soap

- 46% have a dish rack

- 100% have latrines

- 100% treat their water before drinking

Training greatly impacted this group, with people adhering to most of the action plan. However there are still some gaps, so we plan to return for a review training soon.

Mr. Kilonzo Mutuku

Project Result: Seed Distribution

This project was implemented at a crucial time for self-help group members' farms. The ground near their older sand dams is fertile and ready for planting. ASDF distributed seeds for the members' group farm.

Group members received seeds to plan on their group farm.

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 the 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 5.6 meters and the length is 47 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.

Ann Nduku Mbuvi is a 46-year-old self-help group member and farmer. She is very happy about the new sand dam. "We will start growing vegetables as an income-generating activity for our group, and I will also personally grow vegetables for domestic use," she said.

10/27/2017: Ilinge Community Sand Dam Underway

Ilinge 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!

Project Photos

Project Type

Sand Dam

Seasonal streams (and the sand they carry) are trapped by dams, replenishing the water table and allowing for adjacent hand-dug wells. Almost completely led by community-supplied sweat and materials, and under the supervision of engineers, dams are strategically placed within those dry river-beds. The next time it rains, flood-waters are trapped.

With a sand dam, this trapped sand begins to hold millions of gallons of rainwater. Soon enough, sand reaches the top of the dam, allowing water to continue downstream – where it meets the next dam. The result? A regional water table is restored.

A Year Later: Ilinge Community

September, 2018

Currently, water is easily accessible and we walk for less than 500 meters to fetch the water.

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Ilinge 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 Ilinge 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.

People living in Ilinge are seeing much more successful farming activities since the provision of water through the sand dam and well system here. There is now food security for this community. The water from the well is fresh and easy to access, now that it is less than 500 meters from people's homesteads.

Thumbs up for a transformative source of water! From left to right: Lillian Kendi, Regina Nzau, Nicholas Kitusa

Mr. Nicholas Kitusa and Mrs. Regina Nzau met us at the sand dam and well to tell us more about how this system has impacted life over the past year.

"The hunger that was there initially has reduced tremendously because most members have the ability to farm at their homesteads," shared Mr. Kitusa.

Mr. Nicholas Kitusa

"Improved standards of hygiene can be observed, from the use of latrines to installing handwashing stations at our homesteads and also how we organize our utensils. The lessons have helped us a great deal."

The environment in Ilinge has improved drastically due to the presence of water; it is cool, serene and very lush with fruit trees such as mango, pawpaw, and other shade trees. There is great farming and irrigation being practiced in the region.

"We have managed to plant trees at our homesteads because there is water present," said Mrs. Nzau.

Mrs. Regina Nzau pumping water at the sand dam.

"We would also walk for very long distances and the water we would get was not clean or fresh for direct consumption. However, that is just a distant memory of the troubles we encountered. Currently, water is easily accessible and we walk for less than 500 meters to fetch the water. There's always water even during the dry seasons as there's a lot of sand along the river bed," said Mrs. Nzau.

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 Ilinge 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 Ilinge 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 - Barbara Belle Ash Dougan Foundation