Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 255 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2019

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/20/2024

Project Features

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This is the second year we have worked with Maluvyu Community and the Ngwatanio ya Utui wa Maluvyu Self-Help Group. Two dams and two wells have been constructed, giving people access to safe water for drinking and a source for irrigating their crops.

"We use the water for domestic use. We have also grown some vegetables and fruits. We also use the water for drinking and it does not dry during dry periods," Mr. Kyalo Mutunga said.

However, many people still must walk more than a mile each way to access the new wells and benefit from the dams.

"We have lived many years with water problems. The construction of our first sand dam has helped us solve this problem and we hope to implement more projects and bring water close to us," Mr. Sammyu Wambua Kiele said.

So we plan to construct another well and dam to ensure that everyone has safe water nearby.

Go here to view previous projects in the community and see their progress over the past few years.

Maluvyu Village is very rural and peaceful despite the fact that its close to a Peri-urban market center called Kathonzweni, which is the administrative headquarters of the division. The area is generally dry and arid but that particular location where the group operates from is severely eroded. It gets pretty hot, dry and grey when it's not raining. There is a mix of both brick houses and mud, grass thatched shacks.

People either work as farmers or as casual laborers to make a living. Many of the jobs available are seasonal and often involve helping during the planting and harvesting seasons.

This self-help group is in the second year of our five-year development program. They were trained during the construction of their first successful sand dam, and have grown immensely since then.

Nearly every household now has a latrine. It’s a mixture of permanent and semi-permanent structures depending on the economic status of each household. The overall status of the latrines is improving, thanks to the previous training sessions. Most people now clean their latrines on a regular basis.

What we plan to do about it:

Our main entry point into Maluvyu Community has been the Ngwatanio ya Utui wa Maluvyu 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 our visits to households were encouraging, we want to ensure that community members are practicing the day to day habits we are 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 in Maluvyu 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 29.36 feet long and 4.85 feet 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 in Maluvyu.

Project Updates

October, 2019: Giving Update: Maluvyu Community D

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

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

January, 2019: Maluvyu Community Sand Dam Project Complete

Maluvyu 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.

Review and New Knowledge

Since we already trained people in Maluvyu Community in 2017, we planned a review training to check in on hygiene and sanitation progress. All of the self-help group members were informed and invited for the training by the area field officer, Muendo Ndambuki. Local leaders and other community members were also invited for the activity. The venue was chosen to be at Mutunga Kyunguti's homestead.

Attendance was good as expected. Some 17 people were present during the refresher training. The weather was calm and provided a conducive learning environment for the community members. The central location of the venue enabled many people to easily attend.

We reviewed disease transmission routes, how to care for and clean a latrine, and water treatment methods. We also brought some ingredients to make soap and reviewed the entire process.

The participants were taken through several water handling techniques like using clean jerrycans to fetch water, keeping drinking water safe from contamination, proper treatment of drinking water, covering water sources like boreholes and open wells, and also keeping animals away from water sources (among many other important steps). Different water treatment methods were highlighted during the discussion.

During the discussion on water treatment, one member of the group brought up the idea of using ash as a water treatment method. There were many reactions from the rest of the participants who argued that the use of ash was a traditional method and does not treat drinking water effectively. This discussion made the topic very interesting.

"The training was good. It has reminded me of many things that we learned in the previous training," said Mrs. Felisters Mbaika.

"For example, on water treatment, we learned various methods of treating our drinking water and this will help reduce waterborne diseases. I always clean my latrine every day because I have water and affordable soap which is a concept learned through this training."

Sand Dam

"We are very happy as community members of Maluvyu Village. Working on these water projects has not been easy but through commitment and hard work, we are making it. The fruits of our work are visible!" exclaimed Muema Mutunga.

"This is our third dam and we are looking forward to improved water access in our village as the projects will provide clean water to all of us."

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 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. All of this stone and sand compliments the tools, cement, lumber, and metal that we provide.

640 bags of cement were used to build this sand dam

Our engineers drew siting and technical designs 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.

Digging a trench to build a solid foundation

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 39.5 meters long and 5.3 meters high and took 650 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.

December, 2018: Maluvyu Community Sand Dam Project Underway

A severe clean water shortage in Maluvyu Community still affects hundreds of community members who have to walk miles to find water. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a sand dam that will bring water closer to these families.

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: Maluvyu Community Sand Dam

October, 2019

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Maluvyu Community 3A.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Maluvyu Community 3A 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!

Maluvyu community members are beyond excited due to the intensive changes experienced in their lives in the year since their sand dam and hand-dug well were constructed. Water scarcity was a huge challenge for these community members in previous years. It was the norm for people to walk long distances to access a mere 20-liter jerry can of water. The time lost fetching water is now over.

"This project is the blessing I was praying for. In the past year, I have been living a completely different life. I used to walk for more than 4 kilometers and spend more than 3 hours at the water source. Now, I walk just 200 meters and spend less than 20 minutes to get water. My tight schedule of waking up at the wee hours of the night to walk many miles in order to access water is gone," said Stella Kumo, a 39-year-old farmer who uses the well to get water.

"I prepare my children to go to school and their breakfast is always ready on time. A year ago, there were times when my children would go to school hungry and they would stay hungry till evening when they ate supper. Now, I can afford to provide all meals for them because I have more time to prepare meals."

The sand dam and hand-dug well system have been a successful and fulfilling project because the community has plenty of water at their disposal. The sand dam has harvested water since its completion and it has been a reliable source for the community members.

"My children really enjoy the duty of fetching water. I can delegate the duties of fetching water to them because the water source is a stone's throw away and it is safe for them because the water source is protected and in an open area," Stella said.

The water attained from the source is fresh and clean for drinking. In the past year, no cases of diarrhea or typhoid have been reported. Hygiene and sanitation have improved tremendously. People we spoke with said that they shower daily and household chores are performed easily because the water is readily available. There is more time available for income-generating activities.

"I have also had time to farm and harvest, unlike before when all my time was spent on fetching water," Stella explained.

Our field staff noticed that Maluvyu's environment has really improved as it is greener, cooler, and very serene. This is because farmers like Stella can grow more crops throughout the year, thanks to the water available at the dam.

"Initially, we solely depended on the drought-resistant crops as our foods, but now we can alter our diets as we please and plant what we want due to the availability of water. We have established vegetable gardens where we plant kale, tomatoes, spinach, arrowroot, onions, and coriander," said Mary Mutua, Vice-Chair of the water committee.

"We had a vague idea of what to expect but this project has done us great! Seeing the gallons of water that have been harvested by this sand dam makes us very happy and proud. All the community members have access to clean water throughout the year."

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 Maluvyu Community 3A 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 Maluvyu Community 3A – 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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