Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 255 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/20/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

Maluvyu Village is very rural and peaceful, despite the fact that it's close to a market center called Kathonzweni, the administrative headquarters of the division. The area is generally dry and arid. Most of the buildings are family homes made of a mix of both brick, mud, and grass-thatched shacks.

Maluvyu is home to the Ngwatanio ya Utui Wa Maluvyu Self-Help Group, which is made up of farmers who unite to address food and water scarcity in their region. If a farmer doesn't have a large farm for themselves, they are paid a salary to work on their neighbors' farms. The majority of group members earn no more than 2,000 shillings ($20) a month.


We teamed up with this group to bring clean water closer to their village. They've already built one sand dam and well system, and look forward to building this second system on the Kituluni River.

"We have lived many years with water problems. The construction of our first sand dam helped us solve this problem and we hope to implement more projects and bring water close to us," shared Mr. Sammyu Wambua Kilele.

Before this first system, everyone was just digging holes in the sandy riverbed to find water. These would sit open and unguarded from contamination. Waterborne diseases were the norm for the people the drank the dirty water from there.

There's now a clean water system within a good distance of many people, but the group wants to build more to reduce the busyness around the pump and bring clean water closer to others. To see all of the work being done in Maluvyu, click here.


Part of our relationship with Maluvyu is constant training on and evaluation of their sanitation and hygiene practices. One of those visits was to the household of Mrs. Kathikwa Mutunga, who graciously allowed us to take pictures. All households in Maluvyu built at least a basic pit latrine since the start of our training schedule. About 90% of households have a handwashing station with soap.

All of these households are looking clean, thanks to many other great tools like garbage pits, dish racks, clotheslines, and animal pens.

Here's what we're going to do:


We will be engaging with the group members to review some of the things they've learned. Though their household compounds look great, we want to review some of the daily practices we don't get to observe. We'll talk about food hygiene, water hygiene and its treatment, and personal hygiene, including hand-washing.

Sand Dam

Building this sand dam at a spot further down the Kituluni River will bring water closer to hundreds of other people. After the community picked the spot, our technical team went in and proved the viability by finding a good foundation of bedrock. This sand dam is projected to be 29.36 meters long and 4.85 meters high.

We are unified with this community to address the water shortage. As more sand dams are built, the environment will continue to transform. As the sand dams mature and build up more sand, the water tables will rise. Along with these sand dams, hand-dug wells (check out the hand-dug well being installed next to this dam) 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 Maluvyu, including the Mwatunga family.

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 (edited for clarity) thanks to the hard work of our friends in Kenya.

Project Updates

September, 2019: Giving Update: Maluvyu Community

A year ago, your generous donation helped Maluvyu Community in Kenya access clean water.

There’s an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Maluvyu Community. Month after month, their giving supports ongoing sustainability programs that help this community maintain access to safe, reliable water. Read more…

June, 2018: Maluvyu Community Sand Dam Complete

Maluvyu 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 and 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

Our main contact for Maluvyu Community was the chairman of Maluvyu Self-Help Group. He worked directly with our field officers to plan the best date for community members to attend hygiene and sanitation training sessions. They then agreed on a venue, the homestead of Mr. Mutunga Kyunguti, another one of the group members who was kind enough to offer the land outside his home where there was a little bit of shade to keep everyone cool. There were 15 group members in attendance.

We made household visits to plan for training, listing the areas of needed improvement. Our trainer started by sharing the overall situation with community members, who then took that information and turned it around to make an action plan. How many more latrines did the community need to build for everyone to have one?

Counting the number of good facilities and practices present in the community to make an action plan.

The trainer also taught about these topics and many more:

- Making soap

- Importance of covering a latrine pit

- Making and using drying racks

- Household hygiene

- Food preparation and storage

- Water treatment

The group particularly enjoyed learning how to make soap because they knew it wouldn't only benefit each individual household, but that they could sell it to other people in the local market too.

The group had always assumed that if water looked clear enough, it was clean. They were surprised to learn that you should always treat water before consumption because even clean water can get dirty after transportation and storage. The trainer introduced solar disinfection, boiling, water guard, and Moringa seed as options.

"The training was a good one and it will bring a lot of changes in our lives," Mr. Kyunguti said.

"For instance, on water hygiene, we now know better than we used to know. Especially on the solar disinfection method, since some of us have been doing it through the wrong way. Through the water treatment, our lives will change in that we will not be getting sick often."

"Again we will generate income from the soap making activity. Apart from the income, we will improve on our hygiene and sanitation by cleaning our clothes, washing our hands and other general household activities because we have learned that the soap can serve different activities."

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, materials collection could take up to four months.

Cement bags and iron rods were delivered to the construction site, but the community had to help us find enough stones, sand, and water.

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.

The excavation was the toughest step for this group, who encountered a lot of water as they dug. We had to confer and then hire a petrol pump to suck up water as they worked. Then at the tail end of construction, it poured rain unexpectedly.

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 are 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 are built up. The vertical timber beams are dismantled and the dam is left to cure.

The wooden frame will hold stones, iron rods, and cement together until they've bonded.

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 sand dam to reach maximum capacity. It is 29.36 meters long and 4.85 meters high and took 575 bags of cement to build.

It's rained once since completion, and look at all of the sand that's already built up behind the dam!

Sand dam construction was undertaken simultaneously with the construction of a hand-dug well which gives community members 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.

April, 2018: Maluvyu Community Sand Dam Underway

A severe clean water shortage still affects tons of families living in Maluvyu Community. Families are having to walk long distances to find clean water, wasting hours of time and tons of energy. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point nearby and much more.

Get to know your community through the introduction and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with more good 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!

Giving Update: Maluvyu Community B

September, 2019

A year ago, your generous donation helped Maluvyu in Keya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Anna Samuel. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Maluvyu Community 2A.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Maluvyu Community 2A 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!

Life for Maluvyu community members has never been the same since the sand dam and shallow well water project was constructed in their area a year ago. The sufficient supply of water for this community has made life easier for the community members.

"My children rarely miss school because their school uniforms are always clean and there's always food prepared for them when they get home from school," shared Anna Samuel, a farmer who lives near the project.

Time wasted walking long distances to fetch water is a thing of the past for them. The water table levels have increased due to the dam. It takes only a single pump before lots of water flows from the shallow well.

"It is easier to farm both individually and as a group. Each member has managed to set up a vegetable garden at their homesteads which has also helped in value addition as one can have a variety of meals to feed," said Dominic Muema, the head of the self-help group that supports the water projects.

There is notably less pressure in the management of household duties by the community members. Mrs. Samuel is using the time freed up by the well to make and sell soap in the community.

"I am very grateful for this project in our community, I feel very proud to be associated with it," she said.

Anna Samuel

Hygiene and sanitation levels have improved since the training that was conducted as a part of the water project. The majority of people are keen on maintaining clean latrines in their homesteads to avoid the transmission of diseases.

"The tippy taps that we were taught to construct are of high standards and even non-members have visited my home just to see it and construct similar ones in their homes," Mr. Muema said.

"Hygiene and sanitation levels have improved and a handwashing culture has developed at our homes. My children even constructed a song for washing hands after visiting the toilet."

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 Maluvyu Community 2A 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 Maluvyu Community 2A – 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.


Project Sponsor - Yakima Foursquare Church