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Location: Kenya

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  Installed

Functionality Status:  Functional

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

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.

Recent Project Updates

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.

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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!

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Explore More of The Project

Project Photos

Monitoring Data

Project Type:  Sand Dam
Location:  Machakos, Ilinge
ProjectID: 4774
Install Date:  12/21/2017

Monitoring Data
Water Point:
Functional - New Project


Project Sponsor - Barbara Belle Ash Dougan Foundation

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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.