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The Water Project: Kithoni Community -  Shg Members
The Water Project: Kithoni Community -  Latrine
The Water Project: Kithoni Community -  Clothesline
The Water Project: Kithoni Community -  Inside Kitchen
The Water Project: Kithoni Community -  Dishes Drying
The Water Project: Kithoni Community -  Water Storage
The Water Project: Kithoni Community -  Judy And Her Family
The Water Project: Kithoni Community -  Judy Kalekye
The Water Project: Kithoni Community -  Carrying Water
The Water Project: Kithoni Community -  Carrying Water
The Water Project: Kithoni Community -  Carrying Water
The Water Project: Kithoni Community -  Current Water Source
The Water Project: Kithoni Community -  Current Water Source
The Water Project: Kithoni Community -  Current Water Source
The Water Project: Kithoni Community -  Current Water Source
The Water Project: Kithoni Community -  Current Water Source

Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  Under Construction
Estimated Install Date (?):  06/30/2019

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

On the day of our first visit to Kithoni, the weather was cold and chilly. It was drizzling by the time we arrived to meet with Ukava wa Kithoni Self-Help Group (SHG).

This is a peaceful, rural set-up. The homes are made of bricks and some are made of mud and grass-thatched roofs. The roads leading to most homesteads are steep and rocky. Some households host extended families where the land is subdivided – equally granting each son or daughter a portion for establishing their own family. This particular region has a population of 1,050 people.

The most common livelihoods are farming, raising livestock, horticulture, beekeeping, and motorbike taxiing. Most homesteads farm cowpeas, pigeon peas, maize, beans, and green grams. Young men engage in casual labor such as farming for other families, construction projects and carrying luggage for travelers. Motorbike businesses are popular in this region, with most young men between the ages of 20-30 owning one for business. Other families solely depend on remittances from relatives to survive. Small businesses such a vegetable vending and liquor stores are common ventures too. After finishing their education, youths mostly migrate to urban areas in search of better job opportunities, leaving behind their parents to work on the farms.

But everyday activities are disrupted by long, arduous trips to find water. Most rivers in this area are seasonal. Once the rains end, there is a lot of water runoff that renders tons of gallons lost. The community members have to walk for long distances in a bid to fetch water. They have to dig very deep scoop holes in the sand until they find it. These scoop holes are left open, exposing them to a myriad of contaminants such as animal urine, soil erosion, and farming fertilizer. This exposes the community members to waterborne diseases.

Most community members live two kilometers or less from Kwa Makiti River, but its water table is very low. Once the rains cease, the river dries up completely and the members are often unable to attain water there. They are forced to then walk to River Kikuo which is approximately four kilometers from their village.

Water is collected from the scoop holes using 20-liter jerrycans. The community members ferry them using donkeys. For the members without donkeys, they have to carry the water on their backs or borrow donkeys in order to ferry many jerrycans of water at a go.

Water is stored in tanks with different capacities depending on the family’s finances. Most tanks have capacities varying between 1,000 liters to 10,000 liters, but some households just store their water in the same jerrycans they used to ferry it.

“I need five 20-liter jerrycans of water a day to survive since I have three children. Unfortunately, I do not have a donkey so I have to borrow one from my neighbors and it can be inconveniencing to some extent,” shared Mrs. Miriam Mwende Mumo.

“Going to fetch water while carrying the baby on my back is very exhausting, especially due to the distance covered. The water fetched is also not clean as it is attained from an open [hole]. At times the queues are too long and we have to wake up very early which risks my child to dangers of catching a cold or other respiratory complications.”

What we can do:

New Knowledge

We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with Ukava wa Kithoni SHG, which are also open to non-members. These will teach about important hygiene practices and daily habits to establish in the community at the personal and household levels. Taking good care of self and environment will make for a healthy community.

Baseline Sanitation Facility Coverage:

Latrines 90%
Handwashing Stations 10%
Clotheslines 90%
Dish Racks 60%
Bathing Area 70%
Animal Enclosure 40%
Proper Garbage Disposal 30%

Most households have poor compound hygiene and their general hygiene and sanitation standards are low. In relation to this, they need improvement on compound hygiene, effective water treatment methods, handwashing training, soap making lessons and knowledge of disease transmission routes. The members of this group seem to have little knowledge on hygiene and sanitation. This also exposes them to risks of contracting diseases such as cholera, typhoid, diarrhea, and stomachaches.

“The current hygiene and sanitation levels are very low because most families live far from the river. Personally, I have to walk for more than four kilometers to the water source. My donkey can only ferry four 20-liter jerry cans of water in one trip. This amount of water is not enough to sustain all my domestic needs. I have five children whom I need to wash clothes for, cook for them, maintain compound hygiene, spare some water for the livestock and also water my farm,” said Judy Kalekye.

“I have to use the water sparingly because the distance covered is too long. At times I have to go fetch the water in two rounds.”

Sand Dam

Ukava wa Kithoni SHG is made up of farmers who want to tackle water and food scarcity in their arid region, so we have partnered with them to achieve these goals. We plan to install their first sand dam and hand-dug well system to bring water closer to .

This type of intervention helps people to improve their lives. Unpredictable rainfall patterns have made it impossible to guarantee water for communities all year round, as most rivers in Southeastern Kenya are seasonal. Sand dams harvest rainwater where it falls, making it available to the community until their next rain season.

Building this sand dam at a spot on Kwa Makiti River will bring water closer to hundreds of 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 71.1 meters long and 4.5 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 in Kithoni Village of Makueni, Kenya.

Project Updates

04/10/2019: Kithoni Community Sand Dam Project Underway

People living in Kithoni currently have to walk a very long way to find water, and that water isn’t even clean. Thanks to your generosity, we are working to build a sand dam that will bring water closer to home for hundreds of people.

Get to know this community by reading the introduction and pictures we’ve posted, and read more about this water, sanitation, and hygiene project and how it works. We look forward to reaching out again when we have more news!

The Water Project : 3-kenya19188-current-water-source

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 - Lifeplus Foundation - The Workshop Team