Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/20/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

Kangalu is a generally dry community in Kitui County of southeastern Kenya. It is a typical community for this region with thorny trees, bushes and dryland grasses sparsely spread across the otherwise open landscape.

Residents report that most of the land is used for free-ranging their livestock, which is mostly comprised of cows, small goats, and one or a few donkeys for those who can afford them. The soils range from loosely held sand to loam.

The residents affirm the soil is highly productive, but it is only possible when there is enough rain. However, this is a region where rains often come once a year and from seasonal riverbeds that dry up soon after the rains end.

During the driest months of the year, the day for the women starts as early as 3:30 am when they leave to find water located five kilometers away. They have a target of getting there before 5 am. The school-going children will then wake up around 6 am and leave for school at 6:30, while the men either leave the house in search of casual labor or go out to tend livestock.

Meanwhile, women wait for their turn at the watering point: an earth dam built in the 1970s. Most of them get back home around 11 am. All of this effort is to collect water that isn't even safe for drinking.

"The water we get from the earth dam is dirty and contaminated. But we do not have any alternative other than the scoop hole which is miles and miles away," said Grace Nzioka Mutui.

"It is not easy to access it, so the majority of us have to settle for the earth dam source for both our livestock and ourselves. But due to its state, we often get infected with typhoid and dysentery."

For families that can afford donkeys, the trip is made easier by the fact that they can carry jugs of water the long distance. Families that do not have donkeys must either carry the water themselves or pay a fee to use someone else's donkey.

What we can do:

Our main entry point into Kangalu Community has been the Kangalu Self-Help Group, which is comprised of 184 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 29.9 meters long and 4.65 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 Kangalu, Kenya.


We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with Kangalu Chanuka 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.

Due to the challenge of water availability, the hygiene level is highly compromised. But the group members seem keen to improve hygiene standards and state, it as one of the key benefits they will derive from the project.

Project Updates

June, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Kangalu 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 Kangalu, 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.

March, 2020: Kangalu Community sand dam complete!

Kangalu, 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.

"This is a very important project to all of us in Kangalu village," said Linah Vundi, a farmer who helped with the construction of the project.

"We have been walking for more than 5 kilometers in search of water for drinking. Thanks to this new water project, the future looks bright with access to clean drinking water."

We worked with the Kangalu Chanuka 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 29.9 meters long and 4.65 meters high and took 308 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 field officer in charge of the region, Daniel Kituku, was contacted to organize the training. He informed the community while they worked at the site of their completed sand dam. He also informed the village administrator for neighboring Kavuvwani village to join the training too.

The attendance was as expected with a majority of the group members turning up for the training for all 3 days. Members agreed that the training was to be held in a nearby church compound. The weather was conducive but the better part of the 3 days it was cold. There was enough shade throughout the training.

The village administrator for Kavuvwani Village, Simon Kaviu Mwinzi, was present and he was impressed with the methodology that was used in this group. He assured the members that he will be part of the sanitation committee that was selected to monitor the hygiene of the locality.

Trainer Victoria Matolo conferred with the field staff about their visits to households and interviews with community members to determine which topics still had room for improvement in the community. They decided to train on:

- 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

- Soapmaking

The attendees remained actively involved throughout the training and asked numerous questions on concepts they sought further understanding. For one of the activities, we walked around Kangalu and Mumbuni villages to inspect the sanitation and hygiene of the 2 villages as far as the use of latrines was concerned. As we walked around, we identified the spots where open defecation was done and we identified 10 points with 4 homesteads that did not have latrines, plus 6 more homes that were identified by the village administrator.

People said the walk was a special activity because they knew of people who didn’t have latrines, but they did not know that open defecation was to such an extent that people were doing it in the rivers near where scoop holes for collecting water are normally dug. Together with the entire group, we identified routes of disease transmission from human feces to their bodies.

"Through this training, we have learned that we can prevent fecal-oral disease transmission and this will only be achieved through stopping open defecation," said Felisters Mumbe.


"We also gained a new skill [in] soapmaking, something that is very vital as far as hygiene is concerned. This will help us improve on hygiene as well as make it an income-generating activity for us all as a group and at [a] personal level."

Thank you for making all of this possible!

January, 2020: Kangalu Community project underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Kangalu Community drains time, energy, and health from people here. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know this school 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: Kangalu Community

February, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kangalu 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!

"We used to come to the river and dig river scoop holes immediately after the rains which would provide us with water for some time, once they dried up we would resort to walking to Kasovi earth dam more than 3Km away in search of water mostly using donkeys. Available water sources never provided us with clean water save for human consumption. Sometimes the water would be colored, which exposed us to possible diseases," shared Josephine Kilonzi.

"Getting this sand dam and the shallow well project has provided a big reprieve to all of us in this community. Getting clean water has now become easy and such a simple activity. I have been walking to the well, sometimes with my children, and it takes us less than 15 minutes to draw water and get it home. Having enough clean water from within is helping us save much time and concentrate on farming. It is also helping us improve our levels of cleanliness at the household levels."

Josephine Kilonzi

"The shallow well has been helpful in the provision of enough clean water at all times of the year. This has provided us with much extra time to engage in other income-generating activities and fend off for our families. I have been able to open a shop at the local market where I sell basic products and earn myself to support my children and family. Again, having enough water is helping us have clean houses and other facilities at home because there is no more rationing."

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 Kangalu 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 Kangalu 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.


65 individual donor(s)