Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/15/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

Water scarcity is a great challenge in South Eastern Kenya. Most rivers flowing in this area are seasonal - they only flow during the rainy seasons. Afterward, the communities are faced with water scarcity challenges such as walking for long distances to access water and then having to dig scoop holes to fetch water from open water sources which lead to contracting waterborne diseases.

The residents of Kiteta and Muluti villages are fortunate. The Tawa River is relatively close to them, but for the nearly 2,500 people living in the area it is not a reliable source. That is changing.

Our main entry point into Kiteta Community has been the Muka Self-Help Group, which is comprised of households that are working together to address water and food scarcity in their region. These members are our hands and feet in both constructing water projects and spreading the message of good hygiene and sanitation to everyone. We started working with this group last year and completed our first project together. But one water point and dam are not enough to support 2,500 people. For some, it is not close enough.

"The water point has been very helpful to our community because less time is spent fetching water. However, walking to the water point and coming back home has been very hectic because the water source is very far," said Mutinda Muatha to our field team.

"The terrain that leads to the water point is very rough and steep which is risky for carrying water. At times, when we are sent to get water we get back home late which delays the duties to be done at the household level."

We typically work with self-help groups for 3 to 5 years on multiple water projects to ensure that everyone has access to a reliable water source. Because some people are still using open sources to meet their daily water needs.

"On very tough days, I fetch water from nearby scoop holes and the water is usually not clean because livestock depend on the same sources," said farmer Agnes Musyoka.

The water she is fetching is not safe. The water attained from the scoop holes is contaminated and exposes the community members to risks of contracting waterborne diseases such as typhoid, brucellosis, cholera, and dysentery, among others.

Most of the community members here rely on subsistence agriculture farming to make a living. They depend greatly on access to water in order to ensure that their crops succeed each of the growing seasons. Ms. Musyoka said she sometimes resorts to paying for water, but it is hard to afford it - hence why she turns to the scoop holes.

Many young adults migrate to urban regions to seek employment. Others remain to work in other casual labor jobs such as motorcycle taxi driving, construction, working on people's farms, and selling charcoal at Tawa market.

What we can do:

Sand Dam

After the community picked the ideal 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 meters long and 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 this sand dam, a hand-dug well will be installed to give community members an easy, safe way to access that water.

Building this sand dam along with the well in this community will help bring clean water closer to hundreds of people living here.


These community members currently do their best to practice good hygiene and sanitation, but their severe lack of water has been a big hindrance to reaching their fullest potential.

We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with the Muka Self-Help Group and other community members to teach about important hygiene practices and daily habits to establish at the personal, household, and community level. This training will help to ensure that participants have the knowledge they need to make the most out of their new water point as soon as water is flowing.

One of the most important topics we plan to cover is the handling, storage, and treatment of water. Having a clean water source will be extremely helpful, but it is useless if water gets contaminated by the time it is consumed. We will also emphasize the importance of handwashing.

We and the community strongly believe that all of these components will work together to improve living standards here, which will help to unlock the potential for these community members to live better, healthier lives.

We will conduct follow-up visits and refresher trainings during this period and remain in contact with the group after all of the projects are completed to support their efforts to improve sanitation and hygiene.

Project Updates

January, 2021: Kiteta Community Hand-dug well complete

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

Kiteta, 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 worked with the Muka 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 a 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 69 meters long and 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.

With the recent rains, the dam will begin to 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

The group's chairperson, Mr. Nicholus K. Kisyula, was notified about the scheduled training by the area field officer, Paulson Mukonzi, and informed the group members during the final processes of their sand dam construction.

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.

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.

More than 30 people attended, including two village elders. The training was conducted at their sand dam site; the environment was friendly and conducive as it provided sufficient space for movement and demonstrative learning.

The most memorable topic was on personal hygiene and COVID-19 disease. During the discussion of this topic, we explained to the community members about the signs and symptoms of the disease and how to protect themselves against contracting it.

"The training has been very educational for us. Skills about soapmaking have been advantageous for the community members. Sanitation is emphasized in the sustainable development goals and is a cornerstone in the fight against poverty," said Nicholas Kisyula, a farmer who attended the training.

"The lack of basic sanitation puts millions of lives at risk hence the increasing morbidity and mortality rates. We feel that we are now capable of raising an independent society thanks to the knowledge imparted. The availability of water at our sand dam alongside the skills taught will help us, in the long run, to be financially secure.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

November, 2020: Kiteta Community sand dam underway!

Dirty water is making people in Kiteta Community sick. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know this 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 news of success!

Project Videos

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!

A Year Later: A Tree Nursery and a Garden on the Way

September, 2021

” Life has changed and improved for the better. It takes me at most ten minutes to draw water and get back home. I usually manage to complete my household chores on time and, with that, I can indulge in activities which I enjoy, such as farming and catching up with friends. Additionally, the cleanliness, hygiene, and sanitation of my home has improved because water is readily available. I can also fetch water at any time of the day with no strains at all”, shares Jacinta.

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kiteta 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 the construction of this sand dam project, I used to walk for long distances in order to fetch water for use. The river would dry very fast as it is a seasonal river, hence we had to dig very deep scoopholes to access water for basic household uses. A lot of time would be wasted in search of water for use, time that could be expended on other productive or developmental activities. Life was generally difficult.

Life has changed and improved for the better. It takes me at most ten minutes to draw water and get back home. I usually manage to complete my household chores on time and, with that, I can indulge in activities which I enjoy, such as farming and catching up with friends. Additionally, the cleanliness, hygiene, and sanitation of my home has improved because water is readily available. I can also fetch water at any time of the day with no strains at all.

Through this water point, I can manage to water the tree nurseries we have at home for income generation. I plan to establish a vegetable garden where I will plant kale, spinach, and onions for boosting my family’s diet.”

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 Kiteta 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 Kiteta 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