Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/20/2024

Project Features

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"The pursuit for water is a very energy-draining duty in this area," said Mary Nguno.

The more than 2,000 people in Katovya Community must travel more than two kilometers to collect water from Masaki River or from a neighboring community's water kiosk. Both sources provide water that is unsafe for drinking because it comes from sources open to contamination.

Masaki River is seasonal and the area is prone to prolonged dry seasons. There were small wall gabions which were constructed by the county government along this river in a bid to curb water run-off during the rains, but the wall is not functional as it is very porous and causing lots of water loss.

People dig into the sand of the riverbed to get water. These scoop holes provide water but run dry very fast because they are often overcrowded and the water table is usually very low. In addition, these sources are always open and so are also used by animals. There's a water kiosk, but it is very far and the water is usually very costly to purchase.

"Attaining clean water is very hard. At times we forego such luxuries because we have other duties to perform," Mrs. Nguno explained.

"During the drought periods, there are usually a lot of feuds at the water sources, long queues, theft of donkeys and jerrycans, animal attacks from the donkeys and snakes. The water source may be overcrowded so one has to wait for more than four hours waiting for their turn to fetch the water."

The water kiosk is a popular alternative during the dry season, but it too is a long distance away from the community and people have to pay to fill up water at the source. That is a burden on many of the households that already struggle to get by.

Our main entry point into Katovya Community is the Nzighi Masaki Self-Help Group, which is comprised of 271 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.

Community members of Kalovya Village depend on farming as their primary source of income, although it is not reliable because they only farm during the rainy seasons. The region is prone to perennial water problems and inconsistent rainy patterns rendering only the financially capable homes to depend on farming, as it often becomes an expensive activity during the dry seasons. This is as a result of the water challenges experienced in the area.

In this community, the building structures are a mixture of both bricks and mud. The area is scarcely populated as the homesteads are roughly one or two kilometers apart. It is a fairly vegetative area; the most popular planted crops are sorghum, millet, maize, and beans.

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 64.4 meters long and 6.3 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 Katovya, Kenya.

Hygiene and Sanitation

The community members of Katovya Village attempt to maintain good hygiene and sanitation lifestyles when the water is available as they have clothes lines, some homesteads have latrines, a bathing shelter and a kitchen. However, their biggest area of improvement is on latrine hygiene, compound hygiene, handwashing habits, water treatment and enlightenment on disease transmission.

"We can go for days without bathing because water is so scarce; we are struggling to survive," said Bernard Mwangangi. "Cleanliness is honestly not well maintained. The latrines are rarely washed at times we used to apply ash to dispense the odor."

We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with Nzighi Masaki 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.

Project Updates

April, 2020: Katovya Community Sand Dam Complete!

Please note, all photos in this report were taken before social distancing recommendations went into effect.

Katovya, 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 are happy to have successfully completed the construction of this amazing water project. It is a good project which has already started showing how it will help change our lives - it currently holds water and the shallow well has had water flowing," said Kyambi Mwangangi, a 43-year-old farmer who lives near the dam.

"It is the joy of all of us in this village tackling our water challenges head-on through the implementation of this water project."

We worked with the Nzighi Masaki 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.

This dam measures 64.4 meters long and 6.3 meters high and took 980 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.

With each rainy season, the dam will build up sand and store water. With this water, the surrounding landscape will become lush and fertile. It could take up to 3 years of rain for this sand dam to reach maximum capacity, however, since sometimes it only rains once a year!

New Knowledge

Members had agreed to hold the training under a tree close to their sand dam but because of the rain, we requested one member and the group's secretary, Jedidah Musyimi, to allow us to have the training in her homestead. The venue was conducive to the training since it kept us dry!

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.

Training demonstration

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.

Attending members were active throughout the training period, they engaged the trainer actively and participated well in activities such as the group discussions and presentations.

handwashing demonstration

One member who did not have a latrine promised to construct one within the week. This was after the emphasis on the importance of having a functional latrine and the dangers of open defecation for the community.

We demonstrated the construction of a simple handwashing facility (tippy tap). This was meant to improve hygiene practices, especially handwashing at key times, to reduce incidences of diarrhea and other fecal diseases. The proper steps of handwashing were also demonstrated and a member requested to demonstrate it to the other members.

"This training has imparted us with enough knowledge to generate more income. Through improved hygiene, incidences of disease transmission are going to decline," said Ms. Mwangangi.

Mixing soap

"This will improve our life quality because the money that we have been using to pay for treatment will be used to do other activities like providing our families with a balanced meal and paying school fees for our children."

Thank you for making all of this possible!

March, 2020: Katovya Community sand dam underway

A severe clean water shortage in Katovya Community drains peoples’ 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: Katovya Community

February, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Katovya 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!

"Getting water was a full-day affair that was tedious and took a lot of time. We would walk along rivers searching for river scoop holes, sometimes traveling up to the Kamunyu river downstream more than 4 Km away. The water was neither clean, but we had limited options because of the dry condition associated with our area," said 54-year-old Kyambi Mwangangi.

"Getting water has now been reduced to a simple activity, being able to walk down to the well in less than 5 minutes, pump water and walk back home since there is no much wait as the well has plenty of water. Having water from within has always been a lifetime goal. It is improving hygiene levels at home while also creating a healthy community because of drinking clean water."

Kyambi Mwangangi

"I can wash my clothes, house, and utensils more regularly than before because clean water is available in plenty. I am also planting fruit trees in my small farm using water from the well, they are doing good, and the future is bright with a reliable water source to sustain them during this dry season."

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 Katovya 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 Katovya 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.


Project Sponsor -
1 individual donor(s)