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: 12/22/2022

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

The Mitini Self-Help Group was formed in 2013 and registered with the government in 2015. It started with a membership of 40 people, but currently only has 30 active members. Its leadership committee is composed of 11 members; two male and nine female. The average age is 53 years and the mean number of family members is five.

The group is located at Mitini Village, which has a population of 8,478 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.)

Subsistence agriculture is the main source of livelihood for this community. When the rainfall pattern is better, the members harvest enough both for their families and to sell at the local market to earn money for other needs.

Water Situation

The main source of water for the Mitini Self-Help group is the river, where they scoop holes in the sand to get drinking water. During the dry periods they have to walk for long distances by the river, looking for areas where they can scoop holes and find water. Some members have been able to afford a plastic tank and gutter to catch rainwater, which lasts for a few weeks before needing another rain.

62-year-old Annah Mueni is a farmer who doesn't have any alternative but to fetch water from the river.  "We fetch water from an underneath scoop holes at our stony river called Katheka. It's always crowded with many people fetching water from the same water point. It takes more than 30 minutes waiting for my turn. At my home, I don't treat drinking water. I use it for cooking, drinking and other household activities," she shared.

The water fetched from the holes is dirty, contaminated by erosion and surface runoff that washes things like animal feces into the water. Community members admitted that after drinking, they've suffered from waterborne illnesses like typhoid.

Sanitation Situation

100% of group members have a pit latrine at their home, though most of them just have a curtain hanging in the doorway that provides little privacy. There are no working hand-washing stations, but families do have other helpful tools like dish racks and clotheslines.

Around half of members pile their garbage up behind their compounds. To keep litter from blowing around in the wind and animals out, each home needs to have a deep pit to throw garbage in.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

Since this is our first hygiene and sanitation training in Mitini, training will be held for three 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.

Plans: Sand Dam

Their first proposed site for a sand dam in Mitini was also approved by our technical team because there is firm bedrock and wide banks. This particular sand dam is projected to be 58 meters long and 4.9 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 Mitini.

As the sand dam construction begins, community members will start excavating their first adjacent hand-dug well (click here to see that well project).

Project Updates

05/15/2019: A Year Later: Mitini Community Sand Dam

A year ago, your generous donation helped us construct a sand dam for Mitini 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…

03/13/2018: Mitini Community Sand Dam Complete

Mitini 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.

Project Result: New Knowledge

The field officers worked closely with the self-help group chairman, Alexander Kitavi, to arrange for hygiene and sanitation training. They wanted the best dates to ensure the attendance of all group members. Even community members who weren’t a part of the self-help group were invited to attend. Mr. Kitavi also offered up his land as venue for the sessions.

Both attendance and participation were great. Everyone was willing to learn new things, and promised to start practicing everything. There were four overall goals throughout these sessions:

- show the relationship between sanitation and health

- encourage community members to care for their water sources and build sanitation facilities at their homes and nearby the water points (but not too close!)

- help community members improve hygiene behaviors

- teach about diarrheal diseases and how to prevent them

We drew maps, brainstormed, investigated current issues and habits, explored the community, and made an action plan. We used illustrations to teach about the differences between good and bad hygiene habits. We discussed how different daily practices are connected and how germs spread, and could then list ways to build barriers.

Discussing the connections between different daily activities and how to stop the spread of germs.

We taught how hand-washing is one of the most effective barriers, when and how to do so, and how to build a simple hand-washing station. We also made our own soap together, and the group looks forward to both using this soap for themselves and selling it in the local market.

We built this "tippy-tap" together for our hand-washing demonstration.

Mr. Kyalo Mutinda said, "The training has been good and has a good impact on our health, especially on latrine construction by our water points to prevent water contamination. I have also learnt the importance of personal hygiene. For instance, washing hands after visiting the latrine with clean water and soap, and I have understood the diseases transmission route. Apart from the knowledge that we have gained on hygiene, we have also learnt how to make soap. This is an important activity for generating income. From the cash that we will generate, we will be able to do some investments and generate more money."

Mixing soap

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) 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. 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.

The finished height is 4.9 meters and the length is 58 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.

01/15/2018: Mitini Community Project Underway

Mitini 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: Mitini Community

April, 2019

“The access of water has been made easy through the implementation of this water project in our community,” said Hannah Kasiola.

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mitini 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 new sand dam and hand-dug well for Mitini 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.

In the past year, community members have experienced enormous change. There is now a lot of water which they have used for farming and for improving their hygiene and sanitation. The water levels have increased thanks to the sand dam, and their shallow well is being utilized for access to clean water. And thanks to that, there are fewer cases of waterborne diseases being reported in the region.

"The environment has changed. It is very cool and serene with very many trees growing in the area along the river bed. There have been great improvements especially on hygiene and sanitation since the training that was conducted," said Kyalo Wambua.

Construction of the well and sand dam 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 project in Mitini is changing many lives.

Water from the shallow well is very fresh for drinking. The spring of water near the sand dam has plenty of water, a phenomenon that has not been observed in a long while.

Field Officer Lilian Kendi, Hannah Kasiola, and John Kyalo Wambua

"The access of water has been made easy through the implementation of this water project in our community," said Hannah Kasiola.

"The water is very fresh with no salinity. I have managed to establish a small vegetable garden due to the availability of water, this has also helped in improving my diet at home."

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 Mitini 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 Mitini 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!


4 individual donor(s)