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: 05/21/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

Katalwa Twooka Oyu Self-Help Group was formed in the year 2007 and registered with local government in the year 2009. The group is found in Katuluni Village, which has a population of just 47 people. However, their great location has a population of 2,256 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 will be a great candidate for a second project in the future so that adequate clean water is available. To learn more, click here.)

The self-help group has a membership of 23 people who started the group with the aim of doing merry-go-round banking, poultry, and goat farming. They also wish to help each other do terracing on their farms and establish kitchen gardens. But due to the issue of not having enough water in their region, they were not in a position to start gardening. The average age is 54 years, with the mean household size being five members.

A while back, the son of one of the members who works as a lab technician in Garissa District Hospital saw ASDF's profile on Facebook. He then contacted the area's field manager, Cornelius Kato, and expressed his interest to put forward groups from his village. He and the area chief brought together 12 groups for us to meet with. From this pool, three pilot self-help groups were chosen - but Katalwa Twooka Oyu was not one of them. They instead opted to help one of the pioneer groups finish all of their activities as they leaned about how these projects worked. Later, when they felt ready to start, they gave the area field officer, Benedetta Makau, their registration documents and were fully brought on board for this water project!


Katuluni Village relies on holes dug in the riverbed to get their water. This is used for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and watering livestock and farms. River Nuu is located over two kilometers for many people, and so it's helpful to bring a donkey that can carry a heavier load.

There is no doubt this water is contaminated; this surface water is subjected to erosion, dirty surface runoff, and animal waste. The group reports that during the driest months of the year, they have to walk farther along the riverbed to find any water at all - up to five kilometers.

"Fetching water has always been a hard task. I walk for more than five kilometers to River Nuu with a donkey to fetch water from open scoop holes. I have no knowledge of water treatment methods and other sanitation practices," reported Mrs. Margaret Kasau.

After drinking this water, community members suffer from typhoid, amoeba, bilharzia, and ringworm. On top of all the time it took to get water, more time is lost as they fight waterborne diseases.


100% of group members have a latrine at home. Most of these don't have doors, but instead have curtains hanging in the opening. Despite each household having a latrine, open defecation is still an issue here. There's no good place to relieve oneself on the long walk to water!

There are no hand-washing stations here, while around half of households have other helpful tools like dish racks and clotheslines. Trash is disposed of improperly, with piles behind the household compound.

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


Since this is our first hygiene and sanitation training in Kataluni, training will be held for four days. The members will learn about useful practices and tools to improve health, and will be encouraged 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

Their first proposed site for a sand dam in Kataluni was also approved by our technical team because there is firm bedrock and wide banks. This particular sand dam is projected to be 21.9 meters long and 4.1 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.

With these projects, clean water will be brought closer to hundreds living around Kataluni.

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

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Katuluni Community

Our teams are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us in our fight against the virus while maintaining access to clean, reliable water.

We are carrying out awareness and prevention trainings on the virus in every community we serve. Very often, our teams are the first (and only) to bring news and information of the virus to rural communities like Katuluni, Kenya.

We trained community members on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19.

Due to public gathering concerns, we worked with trusted community leaders to gather a select group of community members who would then relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

We covered essential hygiene lessons:

- Demonstrations on how to build a simple handwashing station

- Proper handwashing technique

- The importance of using soap and clean water for handwashing

- Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces including at the water point.

We covered COVID-19-specific guidance in line with national and international standards:

- Information on the symptoms and transmission routes of COVID-19

- What social distancing is and how to practice it

- How to cough into an elbow

- Alternative ways to greet people without handshakes, fist bumps, etc.

- How to make and properly wear a facemask.

During training, we installed a new handwashing station with soap near the community’s water point,

Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we also dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the disease and provide extra information where needed.

Water access, sanitation, and hygiene are at the crux of disease prevention. You can directly support our work on the frontlines of COVID-19 prevention in all of the communities we serve while maintaining their access to safe, clean, and reliable water.

May, 2019: A Year Later: Katuluni Community Sand Dam

A year ago, your generous donation helped us construct a sand dam and hand-dug well for Katuluni 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: Kataluni Community Sand Dam Complete

Kataluni Community, Kenya now has a new source of water thanks to your donation. A new sand dam was constructed on a sandy riverbed, which will build up sand to raise the water table and naturally filter water. Community members 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.

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 their water becomes contaminated, and by what.

We took participants out into their community to find potential contaminants, and we demonstrated how these contaminate an entire body of water.

Demonstrating how water is easily contaminated

We mapped out the community together: plotting all of the water sources, households, latrines, and many other things. This map helped us draft an action plan so we could work on solving the most important issues first.

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 training was very educative," Mr. Pius Kavila said.

"Personally as the chairman, I will be having some refresher trainings with the group to remind them what we've learnt today. I was very much impressed with the topics on importance of having a latrine and its cleanliness, personal hygiene, water treatment, and how feces can cause diseases. We also learned that it's important to keep our water sources clean and fenced to keep them from contamination."

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. The 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.

Rocks collected for sand dam construction

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 before construction started. Once approved, we established 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 to hold. 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.

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.

March, 2018: Kataluni Community Sand Dam Underway

Kataluni 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 Kataluni, 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: Katuluni Community

March, 2019

“I love my life now. I enjoy fetching water because the distance I cover is very short.” – Rachel Fundi, 28

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Katuluni 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 enabled us to construct a sand dam and hand-dug well for Katuluni Community in Kenya. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow our local 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 local team member Lilian Kendi with you.

The sand dam and well system has greatly improved the living standards of these community members. The water table has increased immensely, with lots of sand along the riverbed.

"I love my life now. I enjoy fetching water because the distance I cover is very short," said Rachel Fundi.

Rachel is using the water to make soap that she then sells to local schools. She says that the money she earns has helped her family.

Construction of the dam and well are 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 project in Katuluni is changing many lives.

"The greatest change observed so far is the improvement of hygiene and sanitation. Most homesteads of both members and non-members have installed latrines, thus alleviating the culture of open defecation," said Mary Nzoka.

The members attest to having improved their general hygiene and sanitation. The presence of water has also helped in boosting cleanliness in their homesteads as most of them installed tippy taps near latrines. Some members have also started domestic farming for the first time due to the easy water access.

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 Katuluni 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 Katuluni 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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