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The Water Project: Utini Community -  Water Storage Continaers
The Water Project: Utini Community -  Raising Chicks
The Water Project: Utini Community -  Latrine
The Water Project: Utini Community -  Household
The Water Project: Utini Community -  Dish Drying Rack
The Water Project: Utini Community -  Cooking
The Water Project: Utini Community -  Kitchen
The Water Project: Utini Community -  Anastacia Kanini
The Water Project: Utini Community -  Carrying Water
The Water Project: Utini Community -  Water Source
The Water Project: Utini Community -  Fetching Water
The Water Project: Utini Community -  Water Containers At Source

Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Project Phase:  Funded - Project Initiated
Estimated Install Date (?):  03/01/2019

Project Features

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Utini is located on the slopes of Iveti Hills, which stretch from Machakos Town to the Kathiani/Mitaboni area and has a man-made forest called Katunga Forest. The area is vegetative, as it is predominated by trees and it has red fertile soil. Most of the natural vegetation has been cleared to make room for agricultural practices. Thanks to the high altitudes that the area boasts, a lot of coffee is planted by local farmers.

On an average day for the community members, the women and children wake up at 6am to go fetch water to use for cooking breakfast while the children prepare to go to school and the men ready to tend to their farms. Some people travel more than 3 hours to get water from an unprotected spring – a trip that takes up to 5 hours.

A lot of the time is spent waiting in line to collect water. During the dry seasons, the waiting queues at the water sources are usually even longer, as people from all corners merge at the same water point.

Due to the water scarcity in the area, the members of the community opt to buy water from vendors, which is expensive for them. Rampant cases of waterborne diseases, such as typhoid and skin diseases with symptoms that resemble ringworm, are reported due to the stagnant water pools that are near the spring.

“Now that the December rains failed, our spring is overcrowded and the water levels are really low. Water vendors have taken advantage of the situation and fetch water from earth dams which have dirty water. They then sell it to unsuspecting buyers. There are a lot of waterborne diseases, with the most prevalent being typhoid and skin diseases that have symptoms similar to ringworms. All these are as a result of ingesting contaminated water,” Mrs. Josephine Kalekye said.

Constructing a dam and new well will help provide the community with a solution to accessing clean water, it will reduce the rate of contracting waterborne diseases and also help in their farming activities.

What we plan to do about it:

Our main entry point into Utini Community has been the Jirani Mwema 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 in feet in both constructing water projects and spreading the message of good hygiene and sanitation to everyone.


We’re going to train the self-help group members and their communities on hygiene and sanitation practices. Not much more than half of the households here have a place to use the bathroom. Sanitation conditions are poor. Even if a family has a pit latrine, they are not washing them because of the water shortage. Water is not set aside for washing hands after either.

Most homesteads have clotheslines, latrines and bathing shelters. However, there needs to be an improvement in hygiene and sanitation – especially when it comes to handwashing, cleaning of latrines and proper storage of utensils in the kitchen area. All of this will also be improved if they have a nearby water access point.

Sand Dam

Building this sand dam at a spot further down the river in Utini 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 27 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 people in Utini.

We're just getting started, check back soon!

Project Photos

Project Type

Sand Dam

Seasonal streams (and the sand they carry) are trapped by dams, replenishing the water table and allowing for adjacent hand-dug wells. Almost completely led by community-supplied sweat and materials, and under the supervision of engineers, dams are strategically placed within those dry river-beds. The next time it rains, flood-waters are trapped.

With a sand dam, this trapped sand begins to hold millions of gallons of rainwater. Soon enough, sand reaches the top of the dam, allowing water to continue downstream – where it meets the next dam. The result? A regional water table is restored.


Project Sponsor - Pineapple Fund