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: 02/15/2024

Project Features

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Kyamwao Village is a rural place that is situated in Muvuti. The area is very peaceful. It has a population of 840 people from 215 homesteads that host an average of four people each. The buildings here are built of bricks and have an iron sheet roofs, with some having grass-thatched roofs.

The most common livelihood in this area is farming. Each member has a farm where they till and harvest in a bid to sell their products to the market areas. Due to water scarcity and unreliable rain patterns, farming is only conducted when the rainy seasons approach. The Machakos County Government constructed a market area for the community where most women work as vendors of their farm products and sell them to passersby along the highway. Community members engage in small businesses such as salons, shops, welding, and wholesale product sales.

Our main entry point into Kyamwao Community is the Kwa Kalekye Self-Help Group (SHG), which is comprised of 40 farming households that are working together to address water and food scarcity in their region. We will work with the group on projects for up to 5 years in order to ensure that all 840 people living here have immediate access to a reliable source of 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.

Currently, the main water source for the community is the Kyamwao River. It is a seasonal river which only flows during the rainy season and dries completely a few months later. The water accessed afterwards is attained with a lot of strain, and there are minimal chances for the water being fresh for direct consumption. There are also many people depending on one water source, which makes it inadequate for all the community members.

A lot of time is consumed fetching water due to the long distances covered and the long queues at the sources. As a result, there are no other activities which can be conducted at the household level. Water scarcity has caused immense financial pressure and depletion because a lot of money is used on purchasing water. The water vendors take advantage of their vulnerable situations and inflate the prices on the cost of the commodity.

"It is very exhausting walking to the water sources because one needs to carry their jerrycans, tag along with the livestock, and still carry their own child," said Christine Musyoka.

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 68.95 meters long and 5.5 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 Kyamwao, Kenya.


We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with Kwa Kalekye SHG, 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. People here seem to be very aware of the dangers caused by poor hygiene and sanitation habits such as lack of handwashing, lack of cleaning the latrines, poor personal hygiene and poor compound hygiene habits. Therefore, the need for sensitization on the dangers of poor hygiene and sanitation and emphasis is key to boost an improvement.

In relation to this, our trainers will discuss topics such as compound hygiene, effective water treatment methods, handwashing training, soap making lessons and knowledge of disease transmission routes.

"Hopefully, if we get water we can work on improving our hygiene as well as reducing the transmission of diseases," said Mbithi Matheka.

Project Updates

May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Kyamwao 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 Kyamwao, 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: Kyamwao Community Sand Dam Complete!

Kyamwao Community, 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 point is set to be helpful to a large population of people who reside within this locality," said Bernards Nzai, a farmer who lives nearby. "The availability of water here will reduce the strains of walking for long distances. A lot of time which was consumed by fetching water will now be used for productive activities such as farming and businesses."

We worked with the Kwa Kalekye 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 dismantled and the dam is left to cure.

This dam measures 68.95 meters long and 5.5 meters high and took 1050 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.

The dam will continue to build up sand and store water with the ongoing rains. 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 since sometimes it only rains once a year!

New Knowledge

The 3-day Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation Training (PHAST) was planned and organized by Judith Kituta, the Tawa Region sanitation and hygiene officer who coordinated with the area field officer, Paulson Mukonzi, to mobilize for the attendance of the group members on the scheduled dates. The group's chairperson was notified to inform the members about the training to ensure they were present.

Judith 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. Despite the rains, the attendance of the members was fabulous and they even kept time, reported our staff. All of the group members made the training lively through group discussions, asking questions, and airing their views and opinions.

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.

Members were introduced to the common water-related diseases, their modes of transmission, and preventive measures that can be taken to forestall their occurrences. The community members learned more about the diseases in their locality and how to best prevent their spread. They also realized the hygiene practices that are amiss in their homesteads, vowing to improve and adapt to better hygiene and sanitation practices.

As a preventive measure, the members were shown proper handwashing habits to prevent the recurrence of the spread of diseases. They were also walked through how to construct tippy taps to ensure they keenly followed up on the handwashing at their households.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

January, 2020: Kyamwao Community sand dam underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Kyamwao 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 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: Kyamwao Community

February, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kyamwao 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!

"Before this project was completed, life was very hard. We had to fetch water very far from our homes at the mountain tops. Accessing water was very difficult as we had to walk with jerrycans of water descending and ascending the tough terrains. I would really strain. No other activities would be carried out in a day as I would return home very worn out," said 36p-year-old Christine Musyoka.

"In the past year, the distance covered in a bid to access the water point has reduced. We are utilizing the water at our farms for our livestock and household chores. Life is easier now, and we can engage in other income-generating activities such as farming. We also get very clean water for drinking and performing our household chores daily."

Christine Musyoka and son

"I can gain financial security because of the products that I farm. I have planted vegetables such as spinach, kales, and coriander on my farm. I also have maize and beans. There is sufficient food for us to consume thanks to the availability of water. I intend to work more now than I did before as I have seen that the water project is very beneficial."

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 Kyamwao 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 Kyamwao 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 - Lifeplus Foundation