Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/01/2024

Project Features

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People in Ngitini Community have to walk for a long distance to collect water and traverse steep and rocky terrain just to reach the source. It is exhausting and dangerous to carry heavy cans of water along that path.

All that effort is to fetch water from a scoop hole that is dirty, untreated and unprotected. It poses a high risk of contracting diseases waterborne such as typhoid, cholera, or diarrhea.

"The water we get from these scoop holes is very little, especially during the dry seasons. It is dirty and we have to spend a lot of time and money to make it safe for consumption," Mr. Daniel Kyalo, a local farmer, said.

It is very dangerous to consume such water because the water is also used for livestock and other domestic animals. These scoop holes dry up when there are no rains. Some people will dig deeper holes to try and find water, but most will look to other sources for water.

As a result, people turn to the nearby river for collecting water - a source that is also open to contamination and poses a risk to young people who can fall in. The water used for drinking is often untreated in this community, too.

"It is very expensive to treat since the water is salty; washing clothes is usually very exhausting because the soap does not lather," Mr. Kyalo said.

Kinyenyoni Self-Help Group heard about our work to build dams and new wells from other communities and decided to contact us through a field officer. We learned about their water problems and that fewer than half of households have latrines.

The latrines we observed are rarely cleaned due to the water scarcity. As a result, the latrines have a foul smell and are in generally poor shape. Handwashing is also infrequent as a result of the restricted access to water.

"Our children suffer the most because they usually come home from school very thirsty and that's the water they will drink because they have no option," Mr. Kyalo said.

"They fall sick very easily."

Ngitini Village is a serene rural area that is fairly vegetative, as a result of reforestation. It is fairly flat with very few hills around.

Most of the natural vegetation has been cleared to pave way for agriculture. The area boasts of red fertile soil. The households of the area are made of fairly permanent red bricks and are roofed by iron sheets. Most of the families that we visited had a connection to the main electricity grid.

On an average day for the community members, the women wake up at 6am, go to fetch water, and then prepare breakfast for the family as the children prepare for school.

The men go to the farm to get grass for the livestock and also prepare to run errands. Common tasks include: farming, taking farm products to the market, feeding the livestock, and more.

Most of the families earn their income through farming. For instance, one of the families that we visited were farmers and they had harvested a lot of watermelons.

During the day, the woman does the laundry, tidies up the house, washes utensils and prepares lunch as well as supper for the family.

What we plan to do about it:

Our main entry point into Ngitini Community has been the Kinyenyoni Self-Help Group, which is comprised of 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 are going to train the self-help group members and their communities on hygiene and sanitation practices. We want to ensure that community members are practicing the day to day habits we are not able to observe during household visits. Food hygiene, water hygiene and treatment, personal hygiene and handwashing will all be a focus during training.

Sand Dam

Building this sand dam in Ngitini 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 63.8 meters long and 4.3 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 people like Mr. Kyalo.

Project Updates

June, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Ngitini 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 Ngitini, 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: Ngitini Community

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

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

October, 2018: Ngitini Community Sand Dam Complete

Ngitini 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.

New Knowledge

Our Tawa Region Field Officer, Paulson Mukonzi, liaised with the self-help group chairman to organize hygiene and sanitation training. We held sessions at the homestead of Benson Kyalo, the group vice chairperson.

There was a total of 30 out of the 34 active group members in attendance. These 30 people act as representatives of their own households and greater neighborhoods to learn this new information and disseminate it for the rest who weren't able to attend. On the last day of training, the village administrator attended and was happy with the content being taught to his community.

Our first icebreaker activity

The trainer, Veronica Matolo, organized topics by what we observed and heard during our tour of the community. She and the participants worked through different daily habits and how they affect health, decided what is beneficial and what should not be done. We talked about how diseases are transmitted, and some of the things people can do to build germ barriers.

Ms. Matolo taught how to make a handwashing station called a tippy tap, and shared the recipe to mix homemade soap. She and the group mixed their first batch of soap together during training.

Mixing soap

The group's favorite topics were on daily habits and water treatment methods. For the daily habit activity, group members split into two groups and sorted illustrations between good, bad, and in-between piles. After some sorting, we joined back together to discuss our reasoning.

We discussed different ways to treat drinking water. Community members said this was special because they had never learned about water treatment before.

A high level of interest, respect, unity, and willingness to change were noticed during training. They were so open in discussing their current habits and were very much willing to change and adopt new behaviors as taught during the training period.

"This training will make a greater impact in every member’s life and their families because we never knew that hygiene and sanitation entailed so much information and requirements," admitted Mr. Kyalo.

"From today, diseases will reduce because we will improve our behavioral practices; for instance, construction of latrines...handwashing with clean water and soap after visiting latrines, water treatment, among other improved practices."

Mr. Daniel Kyalo

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

Stones the community gathered for sand dam construction

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 63.8 meters long and 4.3 meters high and took 880 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 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.

"Water has been our biggest problem here in Ngitini Village where our community group is based. By working on these kinds of water projects, we hope to harvest enough water and propel the community members to improved living standards and income generation through agriculture - among other activities," shared Mr. Kyalo.

"Everyone is happy with this water project and we are looking forward to implementing more."

September, 2018: Ngitini Community Project Underway

People in Ngitini Community walk a long way just to get dirty water that makes them sick. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to bring an improved water source to their village.

Get to know your community through the narrative 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: Ngitini Community

September, 2019

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Ngitini 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!

Since its installation last year, the water project in Ngitini has provided a sufficient water supply for community members here, which has made them very happy. Among other things, they are utilizing the water for farming and to sustain their livestock. The environment has improved tremendously as the vegetation is greener and the area looks more fertile.

"I have managed to establish a nursery of tomatoes and kale at my vegetable garden which I intend to use for both eating at home and selling in markets," said Sedrack Mwanya.

There is plenty of water at their shallow well which is clean and has been flowing throughout the year. Due to the availability of water, there are job opportunities for young adults who are engaging in farming. There is a surplus food supply in the community and improved dietary habits because they can farm diverse crops.

We met Benson Wambua, a farmer in the community, during a recent visit to the project. The regular availability of water has transformed his life, he said. Mr. Wambua shared the following story with us:

"One year on and I am very grateful for this project. I have managed to earn great income through the water attained from the sand dam. I had planted watermelons in my 1-acre piece of land and I had bountiful harvests in which I earned 1.2 million Kenyan Shillings (~$12,000). In addition, I bought a car that will help me improve my agribusiness."

Benson Wambua and his truck and watermelon harvest

"When I am not on my farm, I am at the market selling my goods. I also have green peppers, tomatoes, and kale which I harvest twice a week. Within a week of sales, I make at least KES 20,000 (~$200). Since the sand dam harvested water, I have been working extra hard on my farm to ensure I achieve all my goals. I wake up at 6:00 am to go to my farm because water is readily available. The water project has provided employment opportunities for the youth in my community. Our livestock also drinks water easily from the sand dam. We do not have to walk very far with them. I am very happy about this project. It has elevated us to levels we never expected."

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 Ngitini 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 Ngitini 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 Underwriter - In Memory of Ahmed Samir
Florence MacDougall Community School
Data Abstract Solutions, Inc.
Unitarian Universalist Church
North Dunedin Baptist Church
All Saints Episcopal Church
Tara Redwood School
Motorola Solutions Foundation Matching Gift
Kristine Baker
Faith Chapel
ATS' Campaign for Water
33 individual donor(s)