Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 575 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/09/2024

Project Features

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Nduumoni is a rural, fairly vegetated and peaceful community in Kenya. It is sparsely populated with most houses made of bricks that are home to some 335 people.

An average day for the community members starts at the crack of dawn with women walking while carrying containers of water on their backs. All roads here lead to the Nduumoni River where the women go to fetch water for the day. The water level is usually higher in the morning compared to later in the day, hence their early arrival.

The community members suffer a lot during the dry seasons because the Nduumoni River dries up very fast and people have to dig deep scoop holes to access water. The scoop holes are usually overcrowded because the water table is so low that typically only 1 scoop hole has water at any given time.

"I am an old woman now and water scarcity affects me a lot," shared 76-year-old Rebecca Kama.

"During the dry seasons, I have to dig very deep scoop holes in order to fetch water. Often times, the water source is crowded."

Depending on the queues, the women might decide to stay and wait for their turn, or they might try leaving and coming back. If they do not return home with water early enough, however, their children go to school hungry. If they get home in time, then they can prepare their children for school and feed them breakfast.

By 7:00 am the men are up and ready to go to their farms or their other work. By around 10:00 am, the water that was fetched in the morning has ended and the women are expected to make a trip back to the river. A lot of time is expended on this duty. Once they fetch water, they perform other household duties. By evening, when everyone returns home, the women prepare supper for the family and sleep.

The next morning, the cycle continues.

"Insufficient supply of water has contributed highly to the poverty levels in the region because we are unable to farm well. We spend a lot of our finances on [medical] treatment and fetching water at times," said Bramwell Mwenzwa Muu.

"Life is hard without water."

The most common livelihood in this region is farming. Most members rely on subsistence agriculture to earn income, but these practices are highly affected by unreliable rainfall patterns and climate change. Other common jobs here include the operation of small businesses such as driving a motorcycle taxi or running a small shop. Casual labor jobs such as house construction and farm work are also typical among young adults.

What We Can Do:

Our main entry point into Nduumoni Community has been the Wathanaa Self-Help Group, which is comprised of 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.

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 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 Wathanaa Self-Help Group and other community members to teach about important hygiene practices and daily habits to establish at the personal, household, and community levels. 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 the 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 typically work with self-help groups for 3 to 5 years on multiple water projects. 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

June, 2021: Nduumoni Community sand dam complete!

Nduumoni, Kenya, now has access to a new source of water thanks to your donation. We constructed a new sand dam on the riverbed, which will build up sand to raise the water table and naturally filter water. We also constructed a new hand-dug well with a hand pump adjacent to the sand dam, providing the community with a safer method to draw drinking water supplied by the dam.

"Access to reliable and safe water from this water point will help in getting clean drinking water for use at home. This will be beneficial because it will help in reducing the chances of contracting water diseases. The distance covered to fetch the drinking water has reduced, and this will make life easier as I will have time to engage in other activities such as farming and high-quality cleanliness at home," said Miriam M.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

We worked with the Wathanaa Self-Help Group for this project. The members and their families contributed materials and a tremendous amount of physical labor to complete the project. We trained the group on various skills, including bookkeeping, financial management, project management, group dynamics, and governance. We also conducted hygiene and sanitation training to teach skills like soap making and 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 field officers to assist them.

"Water from this water point will impact my life positively as I will use it for drinking, watering plants, for our farm, and the livestock. It is also easier for me to get water for bathing and cleaning my school uniforms because the water point is easily accessible, and the pump is easy to use," said Bahati M.

Sand Dam Construction Process

The community members collected all of the local materials like rocks and sand required to complete the dam. The collection of raw construction materials takes longer than the actual construction, lasting up to four months for a large sand dam. The group also dedicated their time and energy to support our artisans with physical labor throughout the project.

First, our team drew siting and technical designs and presented them to the Water Resources Management Authority. We also sent a survey to the National Environment Management Authority for approval before we began construction. Once approved, we established firm bedrock at the base of the sand dam wall. In the absence of good bedrock, we excavate to a depth at which the technical team is satisfied that the ground is firm enough to stop seepage.

Next, we mixed and heaped mortar (a mixture of sand, cement, and water) into the foundation, followed by rocks once there was enough mortar to hold them. We then used barbed wire and rebar to reinforce the mixture.

Once the foundation was complete, we built a timber skeleton to hold up the sludge and rocks above ground level. We then repeated the process until reaching a sufficient height, width, and length. Finally, we dismantled the vertical timber beams and left the dam to cure.

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, and the well will provide drinking water to the community. It could take up to three years of rain for this sand dam to reach maximum capacity, however, since sometimes it only rains once a year!

New Knowledge

The ASDF field officer in charge of the region, Jeff Maluki, first met with the area Assistant Chief to seek permission to organize the three-day training. The Assistant chief, who is also an active member of the group, approved the request. The field officer later met with the group committee, informed them about the training dates, and discussed the venue. The group leaders then informed the rest of the members about the planned training through phone calls.

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. And because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we focused on specific ways that community members can protect themselves and others from the virus.

"The training was very good, and we have all benefited. The training will help improve the hygiene standards for the members of this community. We have learned how to construct cost-effective sanitation infrastructures, and this has given us a lot of options to choose from to improve our hygiene and sanitation," said Stephen Mutuku, the assistant chief for the community.

Mixing soap

The attendance was good and as expected, with more than 30 people attending each of the three days. Soapmaking was one of the most popular topics during the training. The main aim of the training on soap making is to help the members improve their hygiene and sanitation and enable them to have a new income-generating source.

"The soap-making training will from today be an income-generating activity to most of the families in this area. We are very thankful for the training," said Mr. Mutuku.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

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: Increased Financial Stability!

June, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Nduumoni 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 we implemented a well in his community last year, Farmer Bramwell Mwenzwa, 48, had shared how things were for him and others.

"[An] insufficient supply of water has contributed highly to the poverty levels in the region because we are unable to farm well," he said. "We spend a lot of our finances on [medical] treatment and fetching water at times. Life is hard without water."

When we spoke with him recently, one year later, Bramwell reiterated the same sentiment. "Before the implementation of this water project, getting water was a very difficult task. The river would totally dry out during the drought seasons, and we had to dig very deep scoop holes to access water for use."

He continued, "Farming activities were very hard to sustain. Our crops always dried up because of insufficient water supply. A lot of time was also spent searching for water, especially as we approached the end of the year since most water sources had dried up."

But now, with readily accessible water, things are different for Bramwell and his fellow community members.

"In the past year, we have experienced really great changes such as the consistent and stable availability of water for household uses and farming activities," said Bramwell. "Through the implementation of this project, I have managed to regain my financial stability thanks to [the] availability of water.

"I embarked on the farming of kale, coriander, and spinach for sale as well as for my personal domestic consumption. It takes very little time to fetch water from the well and get back home. As a result, my wife and I are able to engage in other development activities that are less time-consuming or draining."

Bramwell at the well.

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 Nduumoni 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 Nduumoni 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