Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/16/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

The Kyumbe Women's Group was formed in 2012 and later registered with the government in 2014. It has a current membership of 26 women. It is found in Kyumbe Village of Machakos County, Kenya. Their greater area has a total population of 2,176 people.

(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.  This community is a great candidate for a second project in the future so adequate clean water is available. To learn more, click here.)

The main objective for the group is economic stability through table banking, and the group also has tents and kitchenware for lending out during social events. These endeavors help all the women have enough money to send their children to school. The average age of group members is 50 years and the mean household membership is five members. A few of these members are widowed.

A majority of the women depend on casual labor and farming for their livelihoods, earning an average monthly income of 3,000 shillings.

Members of Kyumbe Women's Group heard about us from members of Mbuuni Self-Help Group. They then approached our field officer, Benson Kituku, with a request for support. Kyumbe was an obvious choice after we witnessed their water and sanitation challenges.


These women and their neighbors fetch water at springs that bubble up from the ground. These springs pool enough to allow a small cup to be dunked continuously to fill a 20-liter jerrycan. When these springs dry up for part of the year, community members must walk up to five kilometers to get water at a county government borehole.

Though the water fetched from unprotected springs is contaminated, it is closer to home and much more convenient. Mrs. Sapheth Kitema said, "We fetch water from an unprotected river source which is shared with livestock and drink it without treating. We also use it for other household chores." After drinking this water, people suffer from waterborne diseases like typhoid and bilharzia.


All members of Kyumbe Women's Group have a pit latrine, with quality depending on each family's economic status. Most were dilapidated and missing doors; instead, a curtain was hung in the opening. Just a couple of women had a container with water for washing hands after using the latrine. However, they didn't have soap or ash for scrubbing.

Less than half have other helpful sanitation tools like dish racks and clotheslines. Around half of the families just throw their trash in a pile behind their homestead. Only six families had purchased a garbage bin.

Here's what we're going to do about it:


To address gaps in hygiene and sanitation practices in Kyumbe 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.

Sand Dam

The group proposed a site for a sand dam, which was soon after approved by our technical team because there is firm bedrock and wide banks. This particular sand dam is projected to be 42.4 meters long and 5.5 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 dams mature and build up more sand, the water tables 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).

This project is a part of our shared program with Africa Sand Dam Foundation. Our team is pleased to provide the reports for this project (formatted and edited for readability) thanks to the hard work of our friends in Kenya.

Project Updates

October, 2018: A Year Later: Kyumbe Community

A year ago, your generous donation helped us construct a sand dam and hand-dug well for Kyumbe Community in Kenya. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow our 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...

April, 2018: Kyumbe Community Sand Dam Complete

Kyumbe 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.

New Knowledge

The field officers worked closely with the self-help group chairman to arrange for hygiene and sanitation training. They wanted the best dates to ensure the attendance of all group members. For three days of training, there was an average of 17 group members who met at Bernadette Ngui's homestead. Since her home is within walking distance of the new sand dam, we could take participants over there to talk about the ongoing construction.

In the first session, we had the participants share their expectations. What was it that they wanted to learn about most? Many wanted to learn about how to make sure water is clean for drinking. Thus, we started out by talking about water treatment methods.

We also taught about hand-washing; when to wash, how to wash, and how to build a hand-washing station. We talked about how to handle and store food, clean latrines, practice personal hygiene, and build a dish rack and animal shed. The participants were active in their learning, and were dedicated to putting together an action plan to implement everything they learned.

Participants gather around as we practiced hand-washing

To cap it all off, we taught group members how to make soap. This will not only help each household to stay clean, but will give them an opportunity to earn money by selling the soap.

Mixing soap

Mrs. Ngui was thrilled to have hosted such a great training.

"It has helped me learn many new things about hygiene. I learned about water hygiene; personally, I used to treat drinking water only for the little children but from today I will be treating water for the whole family," she shared.

"I never knew anything on latrine hygiene. I have constructed my pit latrine just next to the kitchen but through this training I have learned about the recommended World Health Organization spacing on latrine construction and I promise I will construct a new one following the guidelines I learned."

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) and a survey sent to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) 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. Rocks are heaped into the mortar once there is enough mortar to hold rocks available. 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 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 5.5 meters and the length is 42.4 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.

"We will now have clean water for drinking and for domestic use. Our area receives inadequate rains, but with the sand dam we will have water to sustain us even during dry periods. We are planning to plant vegetables and fruits using the water in the sand dam," Mrs. Ngui said.

March, 2018: Kyumbe Community Sand Dam Underway

Kyumbe 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 training to learn about practices that improve health. As you know, we've been hard at work in Kyumbe, and we'd love to introduce you to what we've been doing: Check out the project page for an introduction to the community, maps, and pictures. We look forward to reaching out again with even more exciting news!

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: Kyumbe Community

October, 2018

“Through the availability of water, I can now achieve some of my dreams such as establishing a vegetable garden.” – Paulina Nyiva

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Kyumbe Community 1A.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kyumbe Community 1A 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, your generous donation helped us construct a sand dam and hand-dug well for Kyumbe Community in Kenya. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow our 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.

Community members have really benefited from the water provided at their sand dam and well system. The members have used the water for farming vegetables such as kales and tomatoes.

We spoke to Michael Kitunguu and Mrs. Pauilna Nyiva about some of the other changes they've witnessed over the past year.

"A while back, we used to fetch water about two kilometers away. Personally, I used to send my son with the donkey to get the water but now work is easier. We get water nearby and our plants can survive because it does not take long to water them," shared Mr. Kitunguu.

"It is easier to access water since the water point is very adjacent to our homes. The water levels have increased and there is a lot of water in the shallow well which we use for farming, for our domestic uses such as cooking, washing utensils and drinking after we have treated it."

Construction of the sand dam and well system 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 sand dam and well in Kyumbe are changing many lives.

"My life has changed because it is easier for me now. As I grow older, I realize that fetching water has been made very easy for me through this project. I walk for a shorter distance and water is readily available, said 71-year-old Paulina Nyiva.

Paulina pumping water at the hand-dug well

"Through the availability of water, I can now achieve some of my dreams such as establishing a vegetable garden. I have planted kales near the water point which I water using the water attained from the shallow well. Carrying out the domestic chores such as washing clothes, feeding the livestock and watering the farm is very easy," continued Paulina.

The environment is green with vegetable gardens established near the water sources. The riverbed has already built up a lot of sand, so the water levels have increased and their shallow well has plenty of water.

The members have benefited greatly from the hygiene training, too. Most households have handwashing stations and some even have moringa trees that they use for water treatment. It is impressive to see that the members' lives have improved.

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 Kyumbe Community 1A 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 Kyumbe Community 1A – 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.


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