Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 250 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2019

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/28/2024

Project Features

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This is the third year we have worked with  Kiluta Sand Dam Self-Help Group. Two dams and two wells were constructed, giving people access to safe water for drinking and a source for irrigating their crops. These projects have touched the lives of families living in Matiliku. Now, group members are looking to bring water to other villages in the area.

They have made really good use of the already existing dams. Their aim is to avail more water near all the members of their group in order to widen the scope of water that reaches them thus improving their livelihoods.

Many people still must walk more than a mile each way to access the new well and benefit from the dams. Furthermore, two wells are not enough to supply clean water for the more than 2,000 people in this community. So, we plan to construct another well and dam to ensure that everyone has safe water nearby.

"Availability of water from the installed projects is helping improve our living standards through increased water access, many of our homesteads are now clean with high levels of hygiene and sanitation. Implementing more projects will continue bringing about positive change," Mrs. Felisters Kituku, a local farmer, said to us.

This self-help group works with us as a part of a five-year development program. They were trained during the construction of their first successful sand dam, and have grown immensely since then.

Go here to see the well and sand dam constructed last year.

The community is found in a rural hilly area with a rough terrain which is largely peaceful and has significant vegetation cover. The majority of the buildings are small houses of individual homesteads which make up a village.

Many people in these villages and the larger Nzaui District are actively involved in large-scale fruit farming in their pieces of land especially mangoes and oranges, the increased production of fruits in the area resulted to the Makueni County government installing a fruit processing plant at the nearby Kalamba Market to tap on produce from the locals.

While just about every home has a pit latrine, the latrines we visited were in poor condition and smelled bad. There were no signs of regular cleanings and no evidence of clean water available for handwashing.

Universal access to water by all community members remains a challenge with some members coming from far areas from the already implemented water projects. The community members exhibit high levels of commitment to ensure easy access to water by all the population through the implementation of more water projects to reach every corner of the village.

What we plan to do about it:

Our main entry point into Masaani Community is the Kiluta Sand Dam 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’re going to continue training the self-help group members and their communities on hygiene and sanitation practices. Though every single household in the area has a pit latrine, they were found to be below average in cleanliness. They were terribly smelly, but we noted that some families are using ash to try and cover up the smell from the pit. Nobody had any water around the latrine to rinse them after use. Less than a third of household have water for handwashing, either. We will affirm community members in what they are doing correctly but will focus on the areas of need improvement such as latrine hygiene and handwashing.

Sand Dam

Building this sand dam at a spot further down the river in Masaani 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 5 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 of people.

Project Updates

June, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Masaani 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 Masaani, 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: Masaani Community Sand Dam

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

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

February, 2019: Masaani Community Sand Dam Complete

Masaani 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

The construction process went smoothly as planned. The community had prepared well for work through timely collection of all local materials such as stones and sand.

"We are happy, especially us women... this project alongside the others we have implemented in the previous years will be key towards ending the water crisis in our village. We will now have easy access to water from within the village which will ease the burden on us women and children as we are majorly involved in the search for water," said Mrs. Mbithi.

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. This group of hardworking people started preparing for this project as soon as they heard about the opportunity.

The stones used for construction were gathered by community members

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 feet long and 5 feet high and took 370 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.

Review and New Knowledge

The hygiene review training was planned by the field officer and training officer. They communicated with self-help group leadership and agreed on a convenient date for the training to take place.

Attending members were actively involved in the training, especially the young women. The participants wanted to review family planning, menstrual hygiene, water treatment, personal hygiene and environmental hygiene.

For water treatment, an interactive session was held on how the community members had been handling water from their various sources. They were taught about the best ways of water treatment for their area. The topic addressed water issues that come up anywhere from the source all the way to their homesteads.

"This training has taught us important practices which can help prevent disease outbreaks and improve hygiene behavior at the household level. I have learned the importance of water treatment and its handling through use of containers with covers, cleaning of fetching containers, and other household utensils. Good hygiene and sanitation practices will also help us lead good lives full of health," said Mrs. Kituku.

February, 2019: Masaani Community Sand Dam Project Underway

A severe clean water shortage in dry, arid Masaani Community drains peoples’ time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we are working to bring water closer to people who have to walk over a mile to fetch water.

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 very soon!

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: Masaani Community Sand Dam

October, 2019

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Masaani 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!

At a time like this in previous years, Masaani community members would be stressed out due to water scarcity as a result of the lingering drought. However, in the past year, such concerns have never come to a head thanks to the sand dam and hand-dug shallow well they constructed.

The water source has been providing plenty of clean water to the residents throughout the year. The water is fresh and very sweet for drinking. People here no longer have to walk for about 5 kilometers a day in a bid to access water.

"My mother would send me and my younger siblings to fetch water for bathing and washing my uniforms after school. The distance was too long and we would get really exhausted. At times, we would hide and not bathe or wash our uniforms," said 7-year-old Mwendi Mutua.

The time expended in pursuit of water is now channeled to other, income-generating activities such as farming and businesses. For Mwendi, it means more time to be with her friends.

"Now that the distance has reduced and I enjoy fetching water, I also have time to play after school, do my homework, and catch up with my friends," she said.

Easy access to clean water has led to a happier and more productive community. The availability of water has sustained a green and serene environment. Community members now engage in farming of vegetables such as kale, spinach, tomatoes, green peppers, and coriander, which was a rare practice before.

"These days I perform my house chores very fast and I can also manage to farm and sell some products from my farm. Thanks to this project, I can sustain a living and meet most of my needs through the money I earn," said Veronica Musaa.

On the day of our visit, our field staff met Kwame Martin and his brother Baraka Martin, watering their father's vegetables which had been planted adjacent to the dam source. The 2 boys were very excited about the chore.

The availability of water has also resulted in improved hygiene and sanitation in their homesteads because the community members now bathe daily, have tippy taps erected outside their latrines for handwashing, and have nicely constructed latrine structures.

"I am very happy about this project because it has made my life easier," said Mrs. Musaa.

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 Masaani 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 Masaani 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 - Lifeplus Foundation - Love in Action