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: 05/06/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

Nduti Community is found in Mbiuni Village of Makueni County. The community hails from a peaceful rural area which has average vegetation cover made of both planted and naturally occurring trees. The majority of community members live in brick houses covered with iron sheets while others opt for mud-walled houses covered with iron sheets.

Community members have been relying on open river scoop holes in their quest to get water for drinking and household use. The scoop holes are found on a seasonal river channel and are prone to running dry at certain times of the year - which makes life unbearable for community members as they struggle for water.

"Our community lacks a reliable water source, and we are currently depending on water from river scoop holes which is not safe for human consumption nor enough for the village population needs. Cases of amoeba have been reported in the past as a result of using water from this source," said Katunda Kyungu.

The available water source is shared with wild animals and looks exposed to many other possible contaminants. Locals are required to cover substantial distances to get there, which makes it a burden for women and children who are traditionally tasked with fetching water for family use in this community.

The existing water source is depended upon by the whole village population. At certain times, there are huge lines of people waiting to get water, which means people lose even more time each day fetching water.

Many people in Mbiuni are actively involved in fruit farming on their pieces of land, especially of mangoes and oranges. The increased production of fruit in the area is the result of the Makueni County Government installing a fruit processing plant at the nearby Kalamba Market. But the gains made through money made by selling fruit to the processing plant are wiped out by the high cost of problems caused by the lack of safe water.

What we can do:

Our main entry point into Mbiuni Community has been the Nduti Self-Help Group, which is comprised of 42 farming households that are working together to address water and food scarcity in their region. These members will be our hands in feet and 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 38 meters long and 4.5 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 Mbiuni, Kenya.


We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with Nduti 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.

"Levels of personal and household cleanliness have been below required standards because we lack enough water in our community," said Mrs. Kyungu.

The majority of the community members have latrines and clotheslines, which is a positive sign that they will implement the lessons they learn. Improvements are still needed in leading high levels of cleanliness, implementing handwashing facilities, as well as digging garbage pits within the family compounds.

Project Updates

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

We trained community members on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19.

Before there were any reported cases in the area, we worked with trusted community leaders and the Water User Committee to gather community members for the training. At the time, social distancing was a new concept, and one that challenges cultural norms. Although community members were hesitant to adopt social distancing during the training, we sensitized them on its importance and effectiveness in combating the spread of the virus.

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: Mbiuni Community Sand Dam Complete!

Mbiuni, 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 project is a new intervention in our area and we are very optimistic about it. As soon as we had completed the construction, the project had already harvested gallons of water which are set to assist the community members in easy access to clean water. The distances initially covered to fetch water will now be reduced for people here and the quality of water will improve," said Mr. Eluid Kyungu, Chair of the water committee here.

We worked with the Nduti Self-Help Group for this project. ‘Nduti’ is the local name given to very tiny insects that work very hard in unity and with great dedication to collect food for themselves. The self-help group, therefore, named their group Nduti to emulate the behaviors of these insects.

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 dismantled and the dam is left to cure.

The dam measures 38 meters long and 4.5 meters high and took 510 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

Upon completion of the dam and well, this group was taken through a Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation training aimed at enabling them to improve their hygiene and sanitation as well as manage their water and sanitation facilities. The 3-day training was arranged when the field officer in charge of the Matiliku region, Mr. Jeff Maluki, informed the members about the training during their sand dam construction. The chairperson followed up with all of the members to ensure they attended the training on the scheduled 3 days.

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.

On the day of the training, the weather was cold and chilly as it was the rainy season. The participants converged at Joseph Ndemange's homestead. Joseph is one of the members of the group and his homestead was centrally positioned to most of the other members' homes as it is 100 meters from their sand dam. The attendance was as expected with all of the group members participating, as well as several local leaders.

The participation and involvement levels of the members were commendable as they were active throughout the session. This was attributed to the training methodologies that were applied by the facilitator which encouraged the members to participate. Some of the methods employed included group discussions, a recap of the previous lessons at the beginning of each day, and demonstrations, among others. This ensured maximum participation from all of the participants.

During the soapmaking demonstration, the participants shared stories of how they have compiled and stored many dirty clothes due to a lack of soap. Seeing the final product excited them as they were very happy to have finally gotten affordable soap which requires very little skill to make. This made the topic interesting with all of the participants willing to buy the ingredients. The main purpose of this project is to help the group to improve their hygiene and sanitation as well as generate income through the sale of their homemade soap.

The participants were very happy to learn how to construct a tippy tap and most of them vowed to construct one back at their homesteads as soon as they got home. Tippy tap construction topped their list when they were writing their action plan. This was a good gesture from the participants and it made the topic memorable.

"The training has increased our knowledge of hygiene and sanitation. Through this training we have learned very simple sanitation infrastructures like the tippy taps, utensil racks, and the establishment of garbage pits, among others, which we will implement at our homesteads to enable us to improve our health and hygiene," said Eluid Kyungu after the training.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

December, 2019: Mbiuni Community sand dam underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Mbiuni Community 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 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 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: Mbiuni Community

February, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mbiuni 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 walk for very long distances to fetch water. We had no donkey at home, so we had to borrow from a neighbor to ferry the jerrycans back home. There were many complaints of water-related diseases such as stomach aches and diarrhea. This would often lead to absenteeism from school," said 15-year-old Maondo K.

"Getting water from this water point is very easy and efficient. It takes less than five minutes to get a jerrycan full of water and get back to the house. My life is much easier now. I drink clean water, which does not pose any health dangers to me. I do not worry about the strains of borrowing donkeys to fetch water. My home diet has improved due to the availability of water because now my mum has planted vegetables that we have feeding on. Livestock can also drink water to their fill."


"I plan to build a house using the water from this sand dam and shallow well project. I have the skill of making bricks, and I plan to use it during my free time as there is a sufficient water supply nearby. I hope to have my own home while I am still young."

Dam and well a year later

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 Mbiuni 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 Mbiuni 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.


First Congregational Church of Chatham
Paradigm Strategy Inc.
Data Abstract Solutions, Inc.
National Christian Foundation - GA
Timothy Coors
Immaculate Conception Cathedral School
Fox Valley Church of Christ
Pledgeling Foundation
Washington State Combined Fund
Bounce Treatment Services, LLC
Folsom Memorial United Methodist Church
Network for Good
St. Francis of Assisi Middle School
Sustainable City Solutions
Jonny Blockchain
YourCause, LLC Trustee for Pricewaterhouse
CyberGrants, LLC
Sustainable City Solutions
98 individual donor(s)