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: 02/19/2024

Project Features

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Kaketi Community is a very peaceful rural location in Makueni County of southeastern Kenya. More than 1,500 people live here, but most homesteads are built one to three kilometers apart. Most buildings are made of bricks and have iron sheet roofing. Its topography is characterized by dry vegetation, hilly grounds, rocky terrain, and dry rivers.

On the day of our visit, the sun was radiating its hot rays though the atmosphere was still somewhat chilly. High humidity showed us signs of incoming rains.

This region receives very little rainfall throughout the year. However, most community members are farmers who depend on the rainfall for large scale farming. Farming of maize, sorghum, millet, green grams, pigeon peas, cowpeas, and other drought-resistant crops is thus very common.

The community members fetch water at River Kaketi, which goes through their village. However, the river is seasonal and only flows during the rainy season. They rely on this water to ensure that their farms succeed.

On the day of our visit, the river was dry and the community members had to dig scoop holes to access the water. The paths leading to the water source are very rough and rocky, and one may trip and fall on their way there. All of this effort is spent collecting water from an open source which is often contaminated by nearby farms and livestock that drink water from the riverbed.

Some community members hail from far and have to walk for very long distances to access the water source, and their journeys range from two to five kilometers each way. In addition, not all members have donkeys to ferry their jerrycans.

"At times we walk for very long distances to access the water point. It is usually very exhausting," said Lenah Wanza.

"A lot of time is expended in pursuit of clean water and no other activities can be carried out in a day. The water is usually dirty and people contract diseases."

Water scarcity in this region results in many negative consequences. It leads to the contraction of diseases such as bilharzia, cholera, typhoid, and dysentery. The treatment of these diseases is usually very costly for community members, and they have to walk for long distances because there are no nearby health facilities. This leads some families to not seek treatment - putting them at risk of complications from an untreated illness.

Unscrupulous water vendors take advantage of people's dire need of water and inflate the water prices. Due to the extreme poverty levels in the area, they can rarely raise enough money to buy the water. So, they have no choice but to walk these very long distances to access water. When the main river runs dry, some people travel even further to find other sources of water.

Our main entry point into Kaketi Community is the Kalawa People Living with HIV Self-Help Group, which is comprised of 25 farming households that are working together to support people and families affected by HIV/AIDS. They gather together and help out at social events and support people when they are in the hospital. In addition, the group members work together on development projects that are meant to improve the living standards of the entire community. 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 44.6 meters long and 4.8 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 Kaketi Community of Mwingi, Kenya.


We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with the Kalawa People Living with HIV 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.

Project Updates

July, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Kaketi 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 Kaketi, 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.

February, 2020: Kaketi Community Sand Dam Complete!

Kaketi, 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 very proud of ourselves for completing this project as we were very eager to begin the whole construction process since the first day. Now that we have attained water, we are certain that the prior struggles that were encountered such as trekking for long distances, digging extremely deep scoop holes to fetch water, and long queues are now stories of the past," said Benson Ndaka, a local farmer who helped with the construction.

We worked with the Kalawa People Living with HIV 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.

"We are very excited and grateful for this project," said Mr. Ndaka.

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 44.6 meters long and 4.8 meters high. It took 663 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 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.

The 3-day training took place in the homestead of Benson Ndaka, the group's Chair. The presence of the rains made the community consider the use of a tent in a bid to accommodate everyone in a safe and conducive environment free from rains and cold weather. The environment was conducive and quiet for the learning and training purposes. Attendance was better than expected with members of the self-help group at the training as well as a village administrator, the Chief, Sub-Chief, and village elders.

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.

All of the members of the group made the training lively through group discussions, asking questions, and airing their views and opinions. The members were excited because they were now more aware of the risks exposed through bad hygiene practices.

"This training really enlightened us on how to improve our standards of hygiene and sanitation, prevent diseases, enhance the community’s capacity to educate each other on prevention of diarrhoeal diseases, and the management and protection of water and health facilities," said Mr. Ndaka.

Soapmaking was one of the most popular topics we covered. We thoroughly discussed the purposes of soap in our homes, its medical uses, the ability to clean their clothes, and the ability to disinfect their surroundings from harmful bacteria and dirt. The topic was special because the members learned the importance of using the products at home. They learned how to make soap for handwashing and for cleaning at home. With the new knowledge, people can produce soap for themselves and even sell some for a small profit to other community members.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

January, 2020: Kaketi Community sand dam underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Kaketi Community drains people’s time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a reliable 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: Kaketi Commiunity

February, 2021

A year ago, your generous donation helped Kaketi Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Mutinda Mateng’e. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kaketi 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!

"Water scarcity was a great challenge before. I would leave home at 6:00 am and return home at 4:00 pm. We would fetch water at scoop holes, and it was not clean for use. The nearby river would dry very fast, and we would have to dig deeper wells, which was dangerous. Sicknesses were very rampant," said Mutinda Mateng'e.

"Fetching water now is easy. There is no time-wasting. We are using the water for household chores, and our homes are cleaner than they were. For the year we have had the project, we have never lacked water. Water has been available throughout the year."

Mutinda Mateng'e

"The water point has made my life easier. I spend less time thinking of fetching water. I have managed to establish a tree nursery, which I water daily, thanks to the sand dam project. Now, I can eat out of season fruits thanks to the availability of water."

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 Kaketi 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 Kaketi 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