Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/28/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

The more than 1,300 people in Mukuku Community depend on open river scoop holes found along Thwake River to meet their daily water needs.

Available water is from open river scoop holes which expose the community members to potential health dangers. Since these sources are left open, livestock and other wild animals come to sate their thirst as well.

"Our community suffers from a lack of a reliable clean water source. We are always forced to fetch water from insecure sources which expose us to potential health risks because the water is open to many possible contaminants," said Kyalo Ndeto.

Many community members are required to cover long distances to and from the water source, which makes the hunt for water a tedious affair for women and children who are the ones naturally involved in the activity. Further, queues at the river channel and the long waiting time devastates those involved in the process.

"It takes more time - thus depriving people of valuable time which could be utilized in development-oriented activities," said Mr. Ndeto.

Mukuku Community is found in a silent rural setting with a relatively flat terrain which favors motorcycle transport and use of bicycles. The area is characterized by a low vegetation cover made up of indigenous tree species.

The majority of the people living in this area practice small-scale agriculture for family upkeep and sale of surplus. Locals grow maize, peas, and green grams, and have recently started growing fruit trees such as mangoes and oranges. Their close proximity to Thwake River has led to a good number of community members engaging in irrigation farming at times of the year when water is available there.

What we can do:

Our main entry point is the Mukuku Self-Help Group, which is comprised of 69 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.

Sand Dam

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 55 meters long and 5.2 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 Mukuku, Kenya.


We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with Mukuku Self-Help Group, 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.

The majority of community members have latrines, a kitchen and clotheslines which presents a good gesture for a new community group. Improvements are needed in areas such as the regular cleaning of the latrines, implementation of handwashing facilities, and digging of garbage pits within the homesteads.

In relation to this, the community needs 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.

Project Updates

July, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Mukuku 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 Mukuku, 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.

February, 2020: Mukuku Community sand dam complete!

Mukuku, 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 Mukuku 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 the 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.

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 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.

The dam measures 55 meters long and 5.2 meters high and took 2000 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.

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. However, it could take up to 3 years of rain for this sand dam to reach maximum capacity.

New Knowledge

The trainer conferred with the field staff about their previous visits to households and interviews with community members to determine which topics the community still could improve upon.

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 training was held at Musee Ngumbi’s homestead, who is a member of the group. The weather was sunny throughout the training. The venue had several trees that provided adequate shade for all of the participants. It was a peaceful and quiet environment that was conducive to learning.

The level of participation was "impressive and admirable," said our staff when it was complete. The attendees were very active throughout the training sessions. They readily volunteered to participate in training activities. Additionally, they expressed immense interest in the topics of discussion as evidenced by the questions they asked and their general willingness to learn.

“The training was very good and involving. We have gained a lot of knowledge within the 3 days," said Mr. Kyalo, after the training was complete.


"The training has increased our knowledge on how to prevent diseases and from today we will live a healthy lifestyle. Our minds have been opened and we will be a source of light to our community.”

Handwashing demonstration

Tippy tap construction was a particularly interesting topic for the group. Tippy taps are hands-free handwashing stations that can be constructed quickly and easily with just a few common household objects. By using a small plastic container, the members were very happy to learn how to construct a tippy tap and promised to construct them in their homesteads. They all discovered that it was an easy method to prevent diseases. They took turns washing their hands following the procedure that they learned. This made the topic interesting.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

December, 2019: Mukuku Community sand dam underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Mukuku Community, Kenya drains people’s time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know the 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: Mukuku Community

February, 2021

A year ago, your generous donation helped Mukuku Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Christine Musyoka. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Mukuku Community 1A.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mukuku Community 1A 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 this project was completed, life was very hard. We had to fetch water very far from our homes at the mountain tops. Accessing water was very difficult as we had to walk with jerrycans of water descending and ascending the tough terrains. I would really strain. No other activities would be carried out in a day as I would return home very worn out," shared Christine Musyoka.

"The distance covered now has reduced. We are utilizing the water at our farms for our livestock and household chores. Life is easier now, and we can engage in other income-generating activities such as farming."

"I can gain financial security because of the products I farm. I have planted vegetables on my farm. I also have maize and beans. There is sufficient food for us to consume. I intend to work more now than I did before as I have seen that it is very beneficial."

Christine Mukonyo

Christine pumps the well

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 Mukuku Community 1A 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 Mukuku Community 1A – 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.


Alka Pool
The Hermosillo Family
Calder Road Elem. - Mrs. V's Class
Mitch Brownlie, Queensland, Australia
13 individual donor(s)