Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Dec 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/15/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

The roads leading to Masola Community require a bumpy ride up and down hills. Once there, it's a much more peaceful environment. Homes are spread out over a large area, most of which are made of stone walls and iron roofs. Most of the families living here practice farming and raise livestock.

The majority of people share a common faith, Christianity, and come together often to meet. They're also united in the formation of the Masola Kaani Self-Help Group (Can you imagine where they got this name? It's because group members are from either Masola or Kaani Village.), which has the purpose of alleviating water and food scarcity in the greater region. We've been partnered with this group for the last two years and have seen the successful installation of two sand dams and two hand-dug wells. Each water project has brought clean water closer to hundreds of people. Check out all of the success they've already had in Kaani Community!


If a household can afford it, they'll purchase a large plastic tank that holds rainwater to lessen the number of trips they have to make for water.

Women and children are waking up at 6am every morning to fetch water to be used for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. If one of the two hand-dug wells is too busy, they'll continue walking to the next one. These water sources provide clean water to community members, and they consider it a very important asset.

They aim to continue adding these clean water points until they have enough for the hundreds upon hundreds of people living in their greater region. Farmer Kasyoki Kalii told us, "Our area experiences long dry periods across the year, leading to rampant water shortages. By working on water projects we hope to improve our living conditions and prevent diseases associated with dirty water."

Waterborne disease is still experienced among the self-help group and their neighbors; because there are so many people relying on the two wells, people sometimes have to resort to their old polluted sources.


We had the privilege of visiting the Mutinda household to talk about how health, water, and sanitation have played a part in their lives and the lives of their neighbors over the last year.

Thanks to continuous training since the start of our relationship with Masola Kaani Self-Help Group, this area has 100% latrine coverage. However, there are other things we taught about during training that still haven't been adopted into the households. For example, we need to see a lot more dish racks, bathing shelters, animal pens, and garbage pits.

What we plan to do about it:


We’re going to continue training Masola Community on hygiene and sanitation practices. Though our visits to households were encouraging, we want to ensure that community members are practicing the day to day habits we’re not able to observe. Food hygiene, water hygiene and treatment, personal hygiene and hand-washing will all be a focus during our next review.

Sand Dam

Building this sand dam at a spot further down the 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. Now, our engineers are busy drawing up the blueprints. We estimate the dam will be 66 meters long and 5.3 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 Masola, including the Mutinda 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 readability) thanks to the hard work of our friends in Kenya.

Project Updates

October, 2019: Giving Update: Masola Community

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

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

December, 2018: Masola Community Sand Dam Project Complete

Masola Community, Kenya now has a new source of water thanks to your donation. A new dam was constructed on the 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.

Sand Dam

"It has been the joy of Masola Community working on water projects. Realization of this water project is a big joy to all of the community members in the village as water will be held in the dam which we can use for agricultural activities and other household needs," said Mr. Nduva Wambua.

"We are happy that our hard work is yielding fruits towards achieving improved water access."

The Process:

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 raw construction materials takes longer than the actual construction. For a super large sand dam, materials collection could take up to four months.

Group members delivered sand and stones to the work site. These materials complimented the wood, metal, and cement that we had already delivered.

Siting and technical designs were drawn and presented to the Water Resources Management Authority and a survey sent to the National Environment Management Authority 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.

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 66 meters long and 5.3 meters high and took 1,296 bags of cement to build.

Sand dam construction was undertaken simultaneously with the construction of a hand-dug well that will give community members a safe method of drawing water. As the sand dam matures and stores more sand, a huge supply of water will be available for drinking from the adjacent hand-dug well.

To see that hand-dug well, click here.

New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was organized by the Masii area field officer Ruth Mwanzia, who communicated with the self-help group to choose a meeting point and time at their convenience. The training was held at the homestead of Jackson Kasyoki Katu, the secretary of the group.

Attendance was almost as expected, with a few members who did not attend the training because of a local funeral. Those there were eager to learn. This training was the first of its kind for most of the attendees.

Thus, we started them out on a lot of introductory topics:

- identifying common sicknesses
- studying the way germs are spread
- how to build and take care of a latrine
- how to make soap

Group members used our recipe to make their first batch of soap.

The group appreciated learning that latrine use is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. They were reminded that it's not only important to have a latrine at every household, but to have them out by the farms and marketplaces too.

"If we consider all that was taught in today’s training seriously, we might never get sick," said Mr. Nduva Wambua.

Mr. Nduva Wambua

"For example, using latrines and washing hands after visiting latrines will reduce... incidences of fecal-oral diseases. Some of us used mosquito nets for other domestic uses but from the seasonal calendar we learned that we should always sleep under treated mosquito nets to prevent malaria. Handwashing for the majority of us was an exercise that was not taken seriously, but now we will be following the right procedure and wash them with clean water and soap."

June, 2018: News from Masola Community

It won't be long now before the construction of the sand dam begins. As you can imagine, coordinating all the people involved is key to a great project. The field officers meet frequently with the community to verify that all the materials and volunteers are ready. Based on the last review, the community needs a more time to prepare. We've adjusted the expected completion date for this project, and we look forward to keeping you updated as the artisans and trainers get to work in the coming months!

April, 2018: Masola Community Sand Dam Underway

Clean water shortage around Masola Community drains people’s time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know this 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: Masola Community Sand Dam

October, 2019

A year ago, your generous donation helped Masola Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Miriam Kailo. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Masola 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 past year has been the best for my family and me," said Miriam Kailo, a 42-year-old farmer from Masola.

The lives of people here have improved in the past year due to the water harvested by the sand dam and pumped from the shallow well that was constructed a year ago. There is plenty of water which has been used for farming of vegetables such as tomatoes, kale, and spinach. The water source is easily accessible to the community members and the distance covered is less than 500 meters for the majority of households.

"The water attained is [in] plenty and it can sustain our needs. Since the completion of this project, the sand dam has harvested volumes and volumes of water," Ms. Kailo said.

The environment has improved as it is characterized by greener vegetation and serenity. Farmers tell us that they are now able to grow more crops due to the ability to easily irrigate their land - even during the dry season.

James Wambua and Miriam Kailo pose at the well with our Field Officer Lilian Kendi

"The water has been used to improve our farming activities which have expanded most of our business activities as well as income generation," said James Wambua, chair of the water committee.

Overall levels of hygiene and sanitation have improved as a result of sufficient water at the well. Health problems have reduced because the water used is safe and the members are keen on water treatment to help keep the water clean.

"There are fewer complaints of diseases such as typhoid and amoeba. Hygiene and sanitation have also improved and household chores are performed easily due to easy access to water," Mr. Wambua added.

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 Masola 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 Masola 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.


Project Sponsor - Pineapple Fund