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The Water Project: Kathuli Community -  Standing With Water Container
The Water Project: Kathuli Community -  Self Help Group Members
The Water Project: Kathuli Community -  Mary Mwania
The Water Project: Kathuli Community -  Latrines
The Water Project: Kathuli Community -  Kitchen
The Water Project: Kathuli Community -  Hanging Clothes
The Water Project: Kathuli Community -  Donkey Carries Water Home
The Water Project: Kathuli Community -  Donkey
The Water Project: Kathuli Community -  Collecting Water From The River

Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Project Phase:  Donate to this Project
Estimated Install Date (?):  11/30/2019

Project Features

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Community Profile

“The lack of sufficient water has really affected us as a community as we don’t have access to clean water for drinking,” said Mary Mwania during our recent visit to Kathuli, Kenya.

The community is located in the larger Mwingi region, which is mostly semi-arid and sparsely populated region some 2.5 km from the nearest highway. Our teams had to travel that distance by foot because there is no road for cars. Kamumbuni Village is thinly vegetated, with most of the vegetation comprised of hardy bushes and thickets along the seasonal river.

That sandy, seasonal river is responsible for providing water for the more than 1,000 people living here. But there is only one rainy season, meaning that the river is dry for most of the year. Community members can travel 3 km to the nearest sand dam to collect water from scoop holes, but that requires owning donkeys to carry the heavy water such a long distance. Others scramble to find water in deep scoop holes from the dried up riverbed or purchase water from vendors.

All of these water options share a common problem – they are unsafe for drinking.

Waterborne diseases are common here, said Mrs. Mwania. She added that women spend a lot of their time fetching water rather than doing things like farming or attending to other family needs.

“I feel with easier access to water I would use most of my time tending the farm and growing vegetables,” she said.

Most of the community members are peasant farmers living in clusters with their extended families. In most cases, the men are the heads of the family. A large portion of the women are also work to earn an income. Some of them seek casual labor opportunities as a way to supplement the family income.

Our main entry point into Kathuli Community has been the Kamumbuni Self-Help Group, which is comprised of local 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.

What we can do:

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 32.3 meters long and 4.15 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 Kathuli, Kenya.


We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with Kamumbuni 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.

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.

We're just getting started, check back soon!

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.


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