Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/10/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

Ndue Nguu Self-Help Group is comprised of several farmers from a large region in southeastern Kenya. They came together to address water and food scarcity in Kivandini Village and the surrounding communities through the sharing of resources and the building of new water and agriculture projects.

It is a peaceful and hilly rural area about five kilometers from Wote Town. Some 40 different households dot the landscape, with each having an average of five family members. Their homes are usually made of mud bricks and carved stones.

Most people depend on farming and make an average of 3,000 shillings ($30) per month. Children head out to school in the early morning after which their parents head straight to the farm.


The majority of people in this area rely on water vendors. They're in the water business because the water source is far, and they have the motorbikes needed to cover the distance. They fill 20-liter containers with water from the Ndue Nguu River and sell them for 50 shillings ($0.50) each. Some people make the more than mile-long walk to the Ndue Nguu River for themselves.

The water fetched from Ndue Nguu is contaminated. This river is a sandy riverbed for most of the year. Community members have dug holes to access the water underground. Though the women who travel to the river are saving the money that would have been paid to vendors, they are not saving their time or their health.

"Water shortage has been a problem in our village. We fetch water from unsafe sources that are shared with livestock, resulting in a prevalence of different waterborne diseases," Mr. Bernard Mbithi said.

When delivered home, water is stored in larger 200-liter drums or an even larger tank. A couple households have been able to afford a large plastic tank that catches rainwater but must strictly ration water to avoid buying from vendors or traveling to the river themselves.

Hygiene and Sanitation

We visited with self-help group members to assess the level of hygiene and sanitation in their community. Mr. Mbithi and Mrs. Nzioka were both especially helpful in opening up their households, allowing us to take pictures of the situation they're living in. They shared that all households have a pit latrine, though most don't have doors for privacy. These latrines are a mix of permanent and semi-permanent structures, depending on the economic status of each household. Mud floors make these latrines difficult to clean.

We came across one or two handwashing stations, but there was no soap available.

More than 80% of the people here aren't doing any type of water treatment, not even boiling. This was a surprise since this area is so close to urban Wote Town.

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


To address gaps in hygiene and sanitation practices, training will be offered to self-help group members and any willing community 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 handwashing will be a focus. Group members will learn how to make their own handwashing stations with everyday materials. To motivate participants, we must show the links between these activities and their health.

Sand Dam

Members of this group heard about us from a neighboring self-help group that we are working with. They then approached our field officer with a request for support, and after verifying that they had the relevant registration documents, they were put on our mandatory six-month probation period. During this time, locals are expected to seriously take development to heart and begin constructing hygiene facilities and gathering local materials to be used in the construction process. After that, we returned to verify their water challenges and their need for additional support. The evidence to warrant our support was sufficient, and the group was taken on board. Their first proposed site for a sand dam in Kivandini's Ndue Nguu River was also approved by our technical team because there is firm bedrock and wide banks. This particular sand dam is projected to be 52.7 meters long and 4.3 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 in Kivandini and the surrounding villages.

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 (ASDF). 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

September, 2019: Giving Update: Kivandini Community

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

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

June, 2018: Kivandini Community Sand Dam Complete

Kivandini 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

Hygiene and sanitation training was planned and coordinated by field officer Rhoda Ndindi in collaboration with the community and self-help group members. Training was held at the homestead of Sarah Matheka, who is the treasurer of the Ndue Nguu Pamoja Self-Help Group. All we welcome to attend, and it drew the attention of both this specific group and their neighbors. There were way more participants than we expected, including a self-help group from a different community.

Mrs. Matheka's property had enough trees to shade participants when it was sunny, and enough room inside to host them when it rained.

The trainer highlighted:

– Ways to treat water

– Proper handling and storage of drinking water

– Protecting water sources

– Food preparation

– Building and using a dish drying rack

– Building and using a handwashing station

People's favorite activities were all hands-on. They enjoyed analyzing problems by sorting illustrations of daily habits into piles of good, in-between, and bad practices. They learned how to prevent illness by doing the right things, and were surprised that these good practices were both affordable and sustainable.

"We have learned different infrastructures that we should implement to help us maintain proper hygiene; infrastructures that are cheap and affordable," a participant said.

They also loved making simple handwashing stations with sticks, thread, and a jerrycan. They were surprised that these could be made as hands-free stations with materials that they already owned.

"From the training we have had, we have really gained a lot of knowledge on hygiene and sanitation and more so on lifestyle. We will adjust our lifestyle to suit a style that will prevent us from lifestyle diseases. We will save a lot of money that we have been using for treatment if we adhere to the training content," Mr. Philip Munyao said.

He continued, "On the other hand, waterborne diseases will be minimized because we have enough knowledge of water treatment. We will also improve on our group's income as well as a personal level through soap-making. Apart from the money that we will generate, we will improve on our homestead hygiene since the soap is multi-purpose; we will wash our hands, clean our utensils, houses, and wash clothes."

Mr. Munyao is 89 years old; living proof that you're never too old to start something new.

Mixing ingredients to make soap

Sand Dam

The sand dam was constructed during the rains, and some days it would rain the entire day. Nonetheless, community members started the process by gathering all of the supplementary materials like sand, stones, and water. 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.

Tons of stones were delivered to the construction site!

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 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.

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 52.7 meters long and 4.3 meters high and took 558 bags of cement to build.

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.

As water flows, sand catches behind the dam. Once sand has built up, it will stores water and keep it from evaporating.

"I want to thank ASDF for their support in helping us realize such a mega project! This water held by the dam will go a long way in changing the lives of our people," Mr. Kamba Mativo shared.

"Water is now available in plenty, and we are looking towards utilizing it fully for the benefit of community members. It's the joy of everyone to be part of this life-changing project."

March, 2018: Kivandini Community Sand Dam Underway

Kivandini 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!

Giving Update: Kivandini Community

September, 2019

A year ago, your generous donation helped Kivandini in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Michael Mbithi. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kivandini 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!

The lives of many community members in Kivandini have changed in the year since the completion of the sand dam and hand-dug well. For Michael Mbithi, the access to water throughout the year and near his home allowed him to start his own brickmaking business. He is now selling the bricks he makes using water from the dam to make $40 per shipment.

"With that money, I am able to pay school fees for my children and cater for other family needs," he said during a recent visit to the community.

Kivandini community members are marveling at the surplus supply of water that has been attained in their region. The distance traveled to fetch water has reduced as the water source is just a stone's throw away from most homesteads. The water table is very high and the water fetched from the shallow well is fresh for drinking.

"The water source is 300 meters away from my home which makes the performance of household duties very seamless," said Caro Kithiaka.

Caro Kithiaka

"I created a vegetable garden near the water project where I have planted kales; this allows for a variety of meals at home."

The time that was spent in pursuit of water in the past is now channeled to income-generating activities such as farming and brickmaking. People like Caro and Michael are thriving thanks to the water made available from the dam.

Michael holds one of the bricks he made with water from the dam

There are other benefits realized by the community, too. Bathing which would occur once or twice a week is now a daily activity. Overall hygiene and sanitation is getting better due to both the access to the water and the lessons learned during the training.

"We always wash our hands before eating and after visiting the latrines with soap and water. There are fewer cases of stomachaches and diarrhea in my family as I have administered a handwashing habit in my home," Caro said.

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 Kivandini 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 Kivandini 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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