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: 05/15/2024

Project Features

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Many people in Ngitini Community have to walk long distances 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.

This is the group's second sand dam and hand-dug well system for 2018. The system installed earlier in the year is currently maturing, and has already brought water closer to several families.


We train 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 are all focuses during training.

Sand Dam

Building this sand dam further down the river in Ngitini will bring water closer to hundreds more 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 60.8 meters long and 2.1 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 Sand Dam

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. Month after month, their giving supports ongoing sustainability programs that help this community maintain access to safe, reliable water. Read more…

February, 2019: 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.

Training Review and New Knowledge

Paulson Mukonzi is the field officer for this group and worked closely with them to agree on a training date. The self-help group secretary carried the plans to the rest of the group members as they were working on their sand dam. They agreed to meet at the homestead of a member, Robert Mbaluka, where they normally gather for group meetings.

Participants chose to continue a discussion on the different illnesses they most often encounter in their village. They drew out a calendar where they listed illnesses and the season during which they are most common. With that organization, people were able to brainstorm factors causing those illnesses.

They also wanted to review water treatment methods such as solar disinfection and the use of moringa seeds. This was an important session because we had been discovering that group members were not putting these methods into place even though they learned about them in past training sessions.

Training overview

We introduced more information about a balanced diet during the last session when group members measured their BMI and we discussed how this should inform food intake.

"This training will really help us change our lives because if we follow the content that has been trained, like for instance water treatment, it will help us prevent water-related diseases. Watching our diet will also help us prevent lifestyle diseases and thus live a healthy life. From the seasonal calendar, we have understood different diseases, what causes them, and how we can prevent them," said Mr. Mbuthu.

"This knowledge is very crucial in our lives because it's not only important to us who have been trained, but also to the entire community."

Sand Dam

"We are happy to have completed this project," said Mr. Kyalo.

"It was not easy with the numerous challenges we faced during the construction, but members stood their ground and completed this important project. The project will be instrumental towards increased water access to our people and improving on levels of hygiene and sanitation. We are a joy-filled community after the hard work!"

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.

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.

When the river flooded during construction, community members were patient and worked on what they could access.

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 60.8 meters long and 4.1 meters high and took 1300 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.

January, 2019: Ngitini Community Sand Dam Project Underway

A severe clean water shortage in Ngitini Community still affects hundreds of people. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a nearby water system and much more.

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: Ngitini Community sand dam

October, 2019

A year ago, your generous donation helped Ngitini Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Stanley Mbithi. 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 2A.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Ngitini 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!

Ngitini community members are reaping the fruits of their labor from the sand dam and shallow well project that they constructed a year ago. The water project has realized its main purpose of providing a sustainable water supply for the people here.

The distance covered to access the water source for these residents has reduced from 2 kilometers to less than 300 meters, for most households. People bordering the sand dam have utilized the water for farming.

Farmer Stanley Mbithi told us that he rented land to grow watermelons the past year. The crop succeeded, thanks to the available water from the dam, and he used the profits to help pay for his children's education.

"I am very content and happy about this project, currently my greatest worries are solved because I can easily access water. The environment of this area has really improved thanks to the sand dam and shallow well system. We never envisioned this place would ever have such kinds of improvements," he said.

"Water is readily available and easily accessible to all community members. The project has impacted our lives positively."

Stanley Mbithi on his farm

Rose Mwikali, a community member has been cultivating kale, spinach, green pepper and green beans which have boosted her income so she too can pay for her children's education. The verdant landscape and serenity of this region is impressive, reported our team after a recent visit. The availability of water has enhanced the regeneration of the area's natural vegetation. All the farms bordering the sand dam are healthy and productive boasting a promise of good yields for the community members.

Residents of this locality ooze happiness and contentment thanks to the water project completed a year ago.

"The availability of water in this community has made life easier. There are fewer health complaints and waterborne diseases such as typhoid, which were epidemic," said Robert Kyalo, a 40-year-old farmer who uses the water point.

In addition, the presence of water has assisted them in practicing good hygiene and sanitation habits such as frequent showers, doing laundry, hand washing and proper handling of foods. Subsequently, after the sanitation and hygiene training was conducted, the community members always treat their water before drinking which has significantly reduced the cases of waterborne diseases and unending trips to hospitals.

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 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 Ngitini 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.


Project Sponsor - Pineapple Fund