Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 456 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/04/2024

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

Kianguni Self-Help Group is made up of several community members living in Katung'uli Community. They aim to work together to seek financial stability. Members of the Kianguni Self-Help Group heard about us from members of Itatini, Kwa Kitilo and Wendo wa Mwau Self-Help Groups. Ever since they heard about the sand dam projects we've been doing with those groups, they have been volunteering at different times to help with construction. They approached our field officer with a request for support, and after verifying that they had the relevant registration documents, they were put on the mandatory 6-month probation period. After that we went back to verify their water challenges and their need for support through baseline activities. The evidence to warrant support was sufficient, and the group was taken on board.

68% of the members reported that they rely on casual labor as their main source of income, which involves doing odd jobs on other people’s businesses or farms. An interesting find is that this is regardless of their level of education; from the interviews, we found out that those involved in casual labor are the most literate. Only 14% of the respondents report that farming is their main source of income. These are the people who have planted crops on their farms, which are fully grown. However, their income is seasonal and therefore not reliable. The other 18% rely on other activities like small businesses and remittances from relatives as their sources of income. Those relying on casual labor make 3,000 to 10,000 shillings while the 9% who depend on farming earn an average income below 3,000. This is because the rain pattern of the area is erratic, leading to poor yields or no yields at all.

Water Situation

Water in most parts of Makueni is collected from open scoop holes in sandy, seasonal rivers using 20-liter plastic jerrycans. These 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 it home on their backs. However, most households will have at least one donkey. Of late, households that can afford it use motorbikes to carry water home.

For members of Kianguni, the longest distance covered to a water source is four kilometers, which takes over two hours. The respondents who cover this distance make up 59% of the total respondents! 27% of the members walk for about three kilometers, taking 1-2 hours to get to the water point. The rest take 30 minutes to an hour, with only 5% within an acceptable distance of one kilometer.

The scoop holes at the river are entirely open to different sources of contamination. They are especially dirty after it rains, when rainwater washes farming chemicals, feces, and dirt into the water.

After drinking this water, rampant waterborne diseases and resultant treatment costs become the norm. Common diseases include amoeba, typhoid, bilharzia and ringworm. Long hours have been wasted walking to and lining up at water points. All these have economic implications in the sense that treatment costs divert substantial family income and the time lost on one activity alone could have been used in other income-generating activities.

Sanitation Situation

Over 75% of households have at least a basic pit latrine. Those we visited are beginning to wear down, and lack doors with just curtains hanging in the openings. Out of 39 households, only four report to have a dedicated place to wash their hands.

36% of households have a proper garbage pit to keep litter away from wild animals, while the rest pile their garbage in open places.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

Since this is our first hygiene and sanitation training in Katung'uli, 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 Katung'uli was also approved by our technical team because there is firm bedrock and wide banks. This particular sand dam is projected to be 62.6 meters long and 4.2 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 Katung'uli.

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

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Katung'uli 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 Katung'uli, 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.

The line for the handwashing station.

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: Katunguli Community Sand Dam

A year ago, generous donors helped build a sand dam for Katunguli 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…

March, 2018: Katung'uli Community Sand Dam Complete

Katung'uli 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, Arbunus Munyao, 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. A portion of training took place in a small hall at Katung'uli Market, a central venue for all the group members. Being the rainy season, it was good to have a roof to keep everyone dry. There was an average of 31 people there each day.

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.

Participants doing a role-play that demonstrates the importance of working together.

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.

The trainer helping a little boy practice hand-washing.

Mr. Arbunus Munyao said, "The training was good! I have never learnt anything about hygiene in the past, but this week I had the opportunity to do that. I was very worried because the old members in our group kept asking me how they will learn because they have never been to school, but now they are very happy because the methods used during the training were simple for all of us. Am thankful to the trainers, because you taught us so much on hygiene and sanitation."

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 2.25 meters and the length is 23.4 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.

Mr. Arbunus Munyao said, "We had a big water problem in our community. The area is very dry but the new sand dam and shallow well have solved the problem. It is the first dam to be constructed in the community. We now have clean water for drinking and for domestic use. We will plant vegetables and fruits using the water in the sand dam. The sand dam is very big and will sustain us even during dry periods."

December, 2017: Katung'uli Community Project Underway

Katung'uli 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. 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 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: Katunguli Community

March, 2019

“We used to walk for 5 kilometers to fetch water from River Thwake. It was very far. Now, water is just a stone’s throw away,” said Daniel Mutula.

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Katunguli 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 Katunguli 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 community is very excited about the water project because of the changes that they have observed over the past year. Water is available for them all year round and the source is just 500 meters away for most families.

"We used to walk for 5 kilometers to fetch water from River Thwake. It was very far. Now, water is just a stone's throw away," said Daniel Mutula.

"More than three hours of our day was expended on fetching water. Now, we spend less than thirty minutes. It is such a relief to us."

Daniel Mutula

Since the construction of the sand dam and shallow well, there is plenty of water along the river bed which is adequate for farming and for their livestock. The homesteads near the water source have established vegetable gardens as a result of the water available. The members of this group can now farm easily thanks to the close access to water.

"The sand dam has held gallons of water where our livestock gets water easily. I have also used the water for farming of kales and tomatoes which has helped me in improving my diet at home," explained Munyoki Kitundu.

The environment in Katunguli has improved due to the presence of water in their region. It is very cool and serene, said our field staff after a recent visit.

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.

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 Katunguli is changing many lives.

"At a time like this in the previous years, this river bed would be so dry to a point where we would dig extremely deep scoop-holes to access water. Now, the water levels have really increased," said Mr. Kitundu.

Munyoki Kitundu

"We were taught on cost-effective ways of treating water which has aided us in reducing the dangers of contracting diseases."

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 Katunguli 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 Katunguli 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.


Epiphany Lutheran Church
Data Abstract Solutions Inc.
Hampton Roads Irrigation & Landscape
North Dunedin Baptist Church
CASA Family Foundation
In honor of The Oklahoma Allergy and Asthma Clinic Providers
Miller Family
Precast Engineering Company
In honor of Bonnie and LaMar Havens
Folsom Memorial United Methodist Church
Jarnagin Family
Darby High School Interact Club
Floyd Central High School
Sofie-Cami-Eleanor Water Group
Litnak family
The Water Project
Christ Outreach Church Women of Faith
Many individual donors