Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 255 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2019

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/20/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

Maluvyu Village is at the outskirts of Kathonzweni Town which is the administrative headquarter of the entire region. It is a rural community that is peaceful and fairly vegetative with indigenous trees crowding the unoccupied land. Residential homes in this area are a mixture of bricks and grass-thatched homes. The homesteads are very spread out.

People here make a living either as farmers or casual laborers. On an average day, community members wake up at 6 am. The women will go to fetch water and then prepare breakfast for the family as the children prepare to go to school. The men go to the farm to get Napier grass for their livestock and also prepare to work for the day. During the day, the women wash the family’s clothes, tidy up the house, wash utensils, and cook for the family.

The community has village elders and "nyumba kumi" council of elders who gather to solve any issues that may arise. Women are known to have their own gatherings for saving and contributing money.

Our main entry point into Maluvyu Community has been the Ngwatanio Ya Utui wa Maluvyu Self-Help Group, which is comprised of 52 farming households that are working together to address water and food scarcity in their region. We have worked with this group for the past three years on water projects to improve access to every household in this community.

For more than 250 people in the community, water access is getting better but there is still a need for improvement. The water from the nearest well is salty, meaning it is only suitable for feeding livestock, washing dishes, and farming.

Ending the water crisis in Maluvyu

Sand Dam

Erratic rainfall patterns can't guarantee water for communities all year round, as most rivers in Makueni County are seasonal. Sand dams would, therefore, harvest rainwater where it falls and make it available to the community for longer periods of time.

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.

Building this sand dam at a spot on the 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 54.9 meters long and 4.95 meters high.

With these projects, clean water will be brought closer to hundreds of people in Maluvyu Village of Kenya. That makes it possible for communities to utilize the time saved fetching water and the water in the dam for income generating activities and farm irrigation.


Ngwatanio Ya Utui wa Maluvyu Self-Help Group and Maluvyu Community have participated in training sessions that teach about important hygiene practices and daily habits to establish in their homes. Taking good care of themselves and their environment will make for a healthy community.

"Our hygiene and sanitation levels have improved tremendously since the WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) training was conducted. Most members are practicing what we were taught; hand washing, water treatment, and compound hygiene," Ruth Mwikali said.

"I did not have a garbage pit before the training but we were taught on its importance and benefits prompting me to implement one in my home. We were also educated on the cost-effective ways of treatment."

The latrines here are cleaned often due to the easy access to water. The hygiene and sanitation levels are highly maintained with all the visited homesteads having tippy taps and washing agents installed nearby the latrines. The latrines are cleaned very well with water and soap. For the ones which have mud pit floor latrines are sprinkled with ash.

They, however, need a follow-up training on soap making and water treatment because some reported to still be drinking the water directly. This is dangerous as they may be exposed to risks of contracting waterborne diseases.

Project Updates

October, 2019: Maluvyu Community Sand Dam Complete!

Maluvyu, Kenya now has access to a new source of water thanks to your donation. A new sand dam was constructed on a sandy riverbed, which will build up sand to raise the water table and naturally filter water.

We worked with the Ngwatanio Ya Utui wa Maluvyu Self-Help Group for this project. The members and their families contributed materials and physical labor to complete the project. In addition, they were trained on various skills such as bookkeeping, financial management, project management, group dynamics, and governance. We also conducted a hygiene and sanitation training to teach skills like soapmaking and to help improve behaviors such as handwashing.

When an issue arises concerning the water project, the group members are equipped with the necessary skills to rectify the problem and ensure it works appropriately. However, if the issue is beyond their capabilities, they can contact our team of field officers to assist them.

Sand Dam

The community members collected all of the local materials like rocks and sand that were required for the 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 large sand dam, materials collection could take up to 4 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.

Next, 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 them. Barbed wire and rebar are used to reinforce the mixture.

Once the foundation is complete, a skeleton of timber is built to hold up the sludge and rocks 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.

This dam measures 54.9 meters long and 4.95 meters high and took 568 bags of cement to build.

Sand dam construction was simultaneous to the construction of a hand-dug well, which gives locals a safer method of drawing water. As the sand dam matures and stores more water, more of it will be accessible as drinking water from the well. To see that hand-dug well, click here.

The dam is already beginning to build up with water after recent rains. With this water, the surrounding landscape will become lush and fertile. However, it could take up to 3 years of rain for this sand dam to reach maximum capacity.

"The water from the project is fresh for drinking and has no salinity, unlike the other water sources we used to use," said Mary Mutua, a farmer who lives near the well.

"All the group members now have easy access to the water source. Less time is spent on sourcing for water. Community members are very excited about the project because they can relax and life has improved."

New Knowledge

Our hygiene and sanitation trainer Veronica Matolo and the area field officer, Muendo Ndambuki, conferred about previous visits to households and interviews with community members to determine which topics the community still could improve upon. We have worked with this self-help group on previous projects, so the training focused on improving on the lessons they have already learned.

The majority of the group members went to the training and even some non-members were in attendance, an encouraging sign that people in the community value the lessons on improved hygiene and sanitation. The community members were motivated and interested in learning and reviewing the topics that were of concern to them.

The training was held at the homestead of Dominic Mutunga, who is an active group member. This location was best suitable for the training because it is centrally located near most members' homes and the sand dam site. The environment was conducive for learning since it took place under trees which provided sufficient shade for everyone despite the sunny weather.

They decided to train on topics including health problems in the community; good and bad hygiene behaviors; how diseases spread and their prevention; choosing sanitation improvements; choosing improved hygiene behaviors; planning for behavioral change; handwashing; and soapmaking.

The participation levels of the group members were commendable. There were many questions asked about the appropriate health practices and the installation of sanitation facilities such as the tippy taps.

"A healthy community is a wealthy one. We will reduce the chances of contracting diseases by improving compound hygiene, food hygiene, and water treatment practices," said Mr. Mutunga.

"The training has refreshed us on key factors in the journey of attaining good hygiene and sanitation."

Thank you for making all of this possible!

June, 2019: Maluvyu Community Sand Dam Underway

A severe clean water shortage still affects hundreds of people living in Maluvyu Community. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to solve this issue by building a clean water point 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 news of success!

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

February, 2021

A year ago, your generous donation helped Maluvyu Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Mary 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 Maluvyu Community 4A.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Maluvyu Community 4A 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!

"Before the sand dam and shallow well project, this area had very many challenges concerning getting water. We used to walk up to Kituluni River to fetch water around two kilometers from my home, and the water was very salty. The water source had long queues because a large population depended on it. The quest for water was very time consuming, and very little was accomplished in a day as lots of our time was expended on the task of fetching water," explained Mary Mutua.

"Now, I can leave food cooking on my jiko (stove) and rush to fetch water in a few minutes and go back home. This project has really saved my life in terms of development at my homestead. The water is very pure and sweet for drinking. I feel very blessed to have water nearby, which has motivated me to start a vegetable garden at home. My children can now have a variety of meals and diet because I can farm any crop I want."

Mary Mutua at the well

"The community members have agreed to buy water from our water point, which we plan to save in our group table banking. During the dry season, the water point will be strictly under lock and key policy and will be opened at specific times when people want to buy the water. Community members are pleased with the water point because it has fresh water and is easy to use. Additionally, through this project, I established a vegetable garden at my home, which has helped improve the health and dietary plans for my family. I also sell the vegetables and fruits on my farm at Kathonzweni market. I can have my own money and not entirely depend on my husband to make ends meet."

Mary shows off her garden

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 4A 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 4A – 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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