Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2019

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 01/10/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

Unpredictable rainfall patterns can't guarantee water for communities, like Katuluni Village, all year round. Most rivers in the entire county are seasonal. Sand dams harvest rainwater where it falls and make it available to the community through the next rainy season, providing water for households, livestock, and income-generating activities.

This is the second dam and hand pump for the community, having worked with them last year. It is a part of a long-term partnership between The Water Project, ASDF and community members to ensure access to safe water all year. Click here to see the projects they built in nearby Ikulya Community last year.


The Ndineesi Uu Self-Help Group dug a well in this community last year, but it can only serve 500 people out of more than 2,000. That means that many people still have to go to other open sources to collect water. Some members of the group still walk for long distances to access the water point.

Water in this region is most often collected from open scoop holes in sandy, seasonal rivers using 20-liter plastic jerrycans. The water is then loaded onto donkeys or some carry it on their backs. The majority of drinking water is then stored in high capacity plastic containers, but it is generally untreated for contaminants.


Roughly two-thirds of community members have latrines. The latrines exhibited average levels of cleanliness. Some were made of permanent and semi-permanent structures, chances are high that some latrines have been affected by the ongoing rains leading to their sinking or fall.

The group members are showing commendable strides in use of the information from the sanitation and hygiene training, like tippy taps and garbage pits. This can be attributed to a positive mindset among the community members willing to embrace constructive ideas.


Katuluni is more than 300km away from ASDF's offices in Mtito Andei. We traveled to the site by car with the majority of the roads up to Mwingi Town being tarmacked. We had to camp in town for several days due to the distance to the project area so as to cover many projects within the area.

The community group is found on a silent rural village which is largely dry except during the rain seasons. The area has limited tree coverage with a charcoal burning menace affecting the area which has led to many trees being sacrificed for charcoal trade. Majority of households had decent houses made of bricks and covered with iron sheets, However, there also cases of households living in grass thatched mud houses.

Marginalization by successive government regimes has led to low levels of development in the area with no medical facilities and access roads. Cases of illnesses have led to many deaths as the area lacks a health facility and the poor roads lead to delays in emergency responses for ailing community members.

A typical day starts at 6am. The children prepare for and go to school. After that, livestock are either taken for grazing or tethered in the bush. The husband and wife are free to engage in the main income generating activities, farming, casual labor, etc., for the rest of the day.

What we plan to do about it:

Our main entry point into Katuluni Community has been the Ndineesi Uu Self-Help Group, which is comprised of 39 farming households that are working together to address water and food scarcity in their region. These members will be our hands and feet in both constructing water projects and spreading the message of good hygiene and sanitation to everyone.


We’re going to continue training Katuluni 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 handwashing 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 31 meters long and 2.8 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 Katuluni.

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

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Katuluni 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 Katuluni, 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,

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.

October, 2019: Giving Update: Katuluni Community

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

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

February, 2019: Katuluni Community Sand Dam Complete

Katuluni 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.


The training was planned through close collaboration and communication between the Waita area field officer Patrick Musyoka, community group leadership, and our training officers. Mr. Musyoka mobilized and invited all community members to the training after agreeing on the best suitable date for the event. Trainer Veronica Matolo was notified of the schedule far in advance so that she could prepare materials on time.

Community members met outside at the self-help group chairman's home. They discussed health problems still persisting in their community. They also reviewed the strengths of weaknesses of their current daily cleaning and health habits.

The participants also chose to review handwashing and how to make soap.

One of the most popular activities was "three pile sorting." This is a problem analysis tool. Its main aim is to discuss daily individual behaviors. In two small groups, participants were given the task of sorting posters illustrating different behaviors into good, in-between, and bad behaviors.

The group said that they found the session very interesting because they did not know that a lot of the practices they were doing have been causing illnesses.

"The hygiene training that has been done to us will be a very beneficial training. This training will help in reduction of diseases since we now know very well what causes them; from stopping open defecation to using latrines, drinking treated water, improving our compound hygiene and personal hygiene, among other improvements. Incidences of waterborne diseases will reduce at a greater rate," said Mrs. Makau.

Sand Dam

Despite the many weather challenges, sand dam construction is finally finished!

"We are delighted to have completed this project at last," said Mr. Muketha.

"It is such an amazing water project for the whole community, which is geared towards improving water access in our village and the general living standards at large. Community members will now have water from within the village which will improve levels of hygiene and sanitation."

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.

We delivered the more expensive materials and hardware to the construction site, including cement, lumber, and rebar.

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 31 meters long and 2.8 meters high and took 900 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.

February, 2019: Katuluni Community Sand Dam Close to Completion

Community members in Katuluni have had to persevere to see this sand dam to completion. They have done such a great job! When the flood waters finally receded at the end of last year, the group had to wait even longer because the soil was still too wet for digging. The wet soil made it so diggers couldn't reach the bedrock to confidently make a stable sand dam foundation - which of course is essential for a quality, lasting sand dam.

Our artisans and the community did not want to sacrifice the integrity of this project, so they patiently waited until the conditions were right. The picture sent along with this update shows just how close they are to success!

December, 2018: Progress in Katuluni Community

Katuluni Community is halfway through the construction of their new sand dam. Heavy rains have delayed progress, and the community needs at least another month to finish this hard work. These heavy rains will be more than welcome once the project is complete, since the sand dam is built to store water!

New pictures of the construction process have been added to the project page. We look forward to reaching out again in January with news of success.

July, 2018: Continuing Work in Kataluni Community

Everyone in Kataluni is excited about their new sand dam. Timing is very important as we ensure that everyone is ready for these big changes in their community. The field officers, local leaders, and community members have agreed that the right time for construction and training will be over the next few months. We had previously scheduled this project for September, but have modified that date to reflect the planning change made by the team. Thank you for standing with us as we continue work in Katuluni.

We're always open to conversation about our process and are happy to answer your questions. And, if you get a notice like this – it’s actually further proof your gifts are being carefully used towards a water project that lasts.

June, 2018: Katuluni Community Sand Dam Project Underway

A severe clean water shortage in Katuluni 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 area and its people 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: Katuluni Community Sand Dam

October, 2019

A year ago, your generous donation helped Katuluni community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Musyimi Musyoka. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Katuluni 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!

People in Katuluni Community are enjoying the benefits of having a functional water project within their locality. Community members can now get clean water from within the village at the sand dam and adjacent hand-dug well that have been reliable sources of water in the year since they were constructed.

"The water point has made our lives easier. We are now getting water from within our village. We are no longer walking for long distances in search of water for household use," said Musyimi Musyoka, a member of the self-help group that supports the dam and well.

The levels of hygiene and sanitation at the locality have significantly improved owing to the water availability and the hygiene training which was conducted as a part of this water project.

"Our life has been made simpler and happier through the implementation of this water project. We are happy the water is clean and sweet," David Mutemi said.

The surrounding landscape looks beautiful with green vegetables and plants growing as a result of the available water. Livestock and other domestic animals are now healthy since they can access more water for drinking unlike before where they had to walk for long distances.

"Our livestock now get enough water easily from within the village, something which was never possible in the past before this project," Mr. Mutemi 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 Katuluni 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 Katuluni 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.


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