Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 280 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2019

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/10/2024

Project Features

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This is our second year working with the 280 people who live in Kala Community. The sand dam we constructed last year helped solve the water needs for some people here, but another one is needed to reach more people. Some members of the community are found far from the current water source. This has forced them to travel for long distances in search of the valuable commodity, and sometimes results in the acquisition of water that is not safe for human consumption.

"The community is still suffering from the universal water access to all challenge even after implementing our first project. Some members are found far from the water point which has exposed them to longer walking distances in search of the important commodity," explained Ms. Felister Kyalo.

"We are ready to work on more projects evenly distributed within the village so as people can have easy access to water."

Our main entry point into Kala Community has been the Kwa Kituuti Ntheketha self-help group, which is comprised of 40 farming households that are working together to address water and food scarcity in their region. This is our second year working with this group on a water project. We work with self-help groups for an average of 5 years to sustainably improve access to reliable water. These members will be our hands and feet in both constructing water projects and spreading the message of good hygiene and sanitation to everyone.

The community is found in a peaceful rural area with average vegetation coverage made up of both indigenous and exotic trees species thanks to the initiative of the locals. The area is quite hilly with steep slopes. The majority of the locals have built decent houses made of bricks and covered with iron sheets.

Within Kala Village, the average family is made up of a man, wife, and five children. Many families within this community live in shared compounds hosting all the extended family members and the elderly members of the society.

From the community members interviewed, casual labor was reported as the highest source of income for more than half of the respondents. Some 20 percent said they make a living operating a small business. Other sources of income include formal and informal employment while others indulge in small-scale farming for home use and sale of surplus. The county government is encouraging people here to grow fruit crops such as mangos and oranges. As a result, more and more people are planting new trees.

What we can do:


We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with Kwa Kituuti Ntheketha 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.

Community members are recording significant strides towards improving their hygiene and sanitation, a majority of them have kitchens, latrines and other have hand washing facilities. Improvements are needed in ensuring the hand washing facilities have soap and water and regular cleaning of the latrines.

Most households have poor compound hygiene and their general hygiene and sanitation standards are still too low. This also exposes them to risks of contracting diseases such as cholera, typhoid, diarrhea and stomachaches. Most of the latrines visited were mud floor pit latrines, they were cleaned using ash which was noted to have been happening often. None of the latrines visited had water placed near them for use after visiting the facility.

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.

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 46.2 meters long and 4.6 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 Kala Village.

Project Updates

September, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with John Mutua

This post is part of a new series by The Water Project meant to highlight the perspectives and experiences of the people we serve and how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them. We invite you to read more of their stories here.

Our team recently visited Ndumbu Community to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training (read more about it below!) and monitor their water point. Shortly after, we returned to check in on the community, offer a COVID-19 refresher training, and ask how the pandemic affects their lives.

It was during this most recent visit that John Mutua shared his story of how the Coronavirus is impacting his life.

Field Officer Dorcas met John outside his home to conduct the interview. Both Dorcas and John observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is John's story, in his own words.

How has the new Coronavirus impacted your family?

"My family is facing a financial challenge because two of my children who used to work in Nairobi municipality, were laid off and are unable to support their families financially as they did before the outbreak of the Corona Virus. Schools were closed, and this exposed my teenage grandchildren to the risk of early pregnancy, which is on the rise, especially during this time when the children are at home and very idle. They have been engaging in bad companies and practicing bad habits like drug abuse. I am praying to God for this pandemic to end so that they can go back to school."

How is Kenya Working to stop the spread of the virus?

"Kenya is working to stop the virus by educating the public through media on the preventive measures they need to take to stop the spread of the virus. The president extended the night to dawn curfew by 30 days to reduce the spread of the virus. Towns registering high numbers of coronavirus cases like Nairobi, Mandera, and Mombasa have been on lockdown for close to three months to help curb the spread of the virus. Members of the public have also been encouraged to practice social distancing and wear masks every time they leave home. The country has also borrowed some amount of money from the World Bank and other countries to help vulnerable members of society."

How has got water changed for you?

"I am thankful to ASDF and TWP for supporting us to implement the sand dams and the protected shallow wells. Getting water is now easy, and there is no crowding at the water sources since the water is plenty, and a jerrycan is filled with just a few pump strokes."

How has getting food changed for you?

"We are currently surviving on the food in our stores, thanks to God for the good harvest we had last year. However, we are unable to have a balanced diet in every meal due to financial challenges. Before the virus, we would sell the surplus food to buy other processed foodstuffs from the market, which we are now unable to do because market centers were closed due to the Coronavirus."

How has (or will) having a well and a sand dam helped you through this time?

"Having a well and a sand dam has been very helpful to me, especially during this time. I am very thankful to ASDF and TWP for supporting us in implementing the water projects. It's like they knew there was going to be a coronavirus outbreak in the future. The water in the sand dams has enabled every member of our group to have a kitchen garden at home, and this has ensured we have a good supply of vegetables in the family. The ministry of health has encouraged the public to take more green vegetables to boost their immunity to increase their chance of survival just in case they get infected with the virus. This has been made possible by having plenty of water in the sand dams. I have also grown trees, especially fruits using the water from this dam. The water in the dams has also enabled me to water my animals (cattle and goats). If animals could talk, then they can express the joy of drinking clean water every day. Lastly, having the sand dams and the shallow wells has ended the community water crisis because before we constructed the dams, people used to fight daily at the few water points in place by then. Still, today we are living in peace and harmony with our neighbors because water is plenty, and there are no queues."

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Kala 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 Kala, 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.

November, 2019: Kala Community Sand Dam Complete!

Kala, 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.

"The water project will be instrumental in providing a nearby water source to the community members. We have been walking for long distances to access water but this site will enable us to attain water close to our homesteads," said Charles Kimatu.

"We are very excited about this project in our community."

We worked with the Kwa Kituuti Ntheketha Earth Dam 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.

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 then dismantled and the dam is left to cure.

This dam measures 46.2 meters long and 4.6 meters high. It took 544 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 Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Officer notified the field officer on the training that was scheduled for the group and he mobilized the participants for the attendance, as he communicated to them in advance concerning the planned training. The members have constructed 2 sand dams and 2 shallow wells over the past 2 years. Each time, a hygiene and sanitation training was conducted to help improve their hygiene and sanitation habits, encouraging community members to take care of their water sources and to have sanitation facilities at their homes and the water points.

Evaluations were carried out based on the action plan that was developed which the members promised to implement. 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 personal hygiene; latrine hygiene, water treatment; handwashing; tippy tap construction; and soapmaking.

The venue for this training was in an old building at Charles Kimatu's homestead. Charles is the chairperson of the group. His homestead is near their first dam where they could easily access water to use during the training. The venue was also a central place for all of the participants. The weather was cold during the training but the environment was conducive for training.

The participants were taken through a demonstration on how to make soap for cleaning their latrine pits. The main purpose of the project is to help the members improve their sanitation and also generate income from the sale of these products.

During the demonstration, 2 donkeys who were used to transport water to the venue started fighting and making a lot of noise, thus interrupting the training session. The training, therefore, had to stop for some time to separate the fighting donkeys. This made the topic memorable to all of us who were present.

Attendees also learned about constructing tippy tap handwashing stations. During the recent follow up which was conducted to several homesteads belonging to members of this group, it was noted that some members had forgotten how to construct a tippy tap. The members were therefore refreshed on how to construct one.

The members were very excited to learn how to construct a tippy tap and they all promised to construct one in their homesteads the same evening.

Charles Kimatu

"Our knowledge of hygiene and sanitation has been increased and we are happy and very ready to change our hygienic behaviors. We will not give up as a group but instead, we will be more focused and more united to improve our lifestyles and hygiene and sanitation," said farmer Charles Kimatu.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

October, 2019: Kala Community Sand Dam Underway

Some people in Kala Community still travel a long distance to access the water they need to meet their daily needs. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to construct a sand dam that will bring water closer to their homes.

Get to know your community through the narrative 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: Kala Community

February, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Kala Community 2A.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kala Community 2A 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!

"Initially, water scarcity was a really great challenge experienced in this region. We used to rely on water from scoop holes, an open water source. As a result, many diseases were contracted, such as typhoid, cholera, stomach upsets, and diarrhea. Often, we would sleep at the river beds waiting to fetch water because the water table was very low, and its recharging rate was very low. Household development/ progress was very stagnant, resulting in fights at home and a lack of peace. We would send our children to stand in for us by waiting at the queues, and once the jerrycans are full, we'd go back to carry them back home. Life, then, was very hard," said Anna Mathias.

"Life has changed totally. Getting water from this water point has improved our lives for the better. There no more complaints about illnesses as there were before. We have been using the water to clean our utensils, farm, make bricks, and drink, among other household activities. There are no homesteads without vegetable gardens as we were trained on smart agricultural practices and have had an abundant water supply. It takes less than twenty minutes to draw water from this well. I am very comfortable sending my children to fetch water at any time of the day because it is safe and easy for them to use. Availability of water has made us very independent as we now all have something of our own. We don't have to ask from our men all the time."

Anna Mathias

"Through this project, I have managed to sustain cleanliness, good hygiene, and sanitation at my homestead. Before, I did not have a tippy tap outside my latrine, but now I do. I also built a dish rack for placing my utensils. It's keeping my house very organized. I established a vegetable garden where I have planted various vegetables such as kales, spinach, and onions, which have helped alter my diet at home. I have also sold a few of them to some community members, which has boosted my pockets as I am now able to join a table banking kitty. As a group, we plan to continue saving and eventually purchase a water pump for use at our farms."

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 Kala Community 2A 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 Kala Community 2A – 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.


Project Sponsor - Barbara Belle Ash Dougan Foundation