Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/21/2024

Project Features

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Kangalu Community is found in a semi-vegetated, peaceful, and rural locality of Southeastern Kenya. Most people here live in houses made of bricks that are well roofed with iron sheets. However, a majority of the homes lack cemented floors and plastered walls. The most common livelihoods in this community are either farming or working casual labor jobs, such as construction or motorcycle taxi driving.

Our main entry point into Kangalu has been the Kangalu Chanuka 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 in the area.

We completed our first project with this group last year, but that water point alone is not enough for this community.

"My village faces the challenge of a lack of adequate clean water sources. This has led to us waking up early in the morning at times to reach the few available water sources," said Josephine Kilonzi, a member of the self-help group.

"The need to end the challenges brought us together to work jointly and implement many water points."

We typically work with self-help groups for 3 to 5 years on multiple water projects to ensure that everyone in their community has access to water. For this community of more than 600 people and their neighbors, a series of dams and wells are needed to address water access issues here.

"We are very happy to be working with you. Our community lacks adequate water access all year round which leads to poor hygiene, underdevelopment, and malnutrition. That is why we remain committed to working together on more water projects aimed at bringing water to the doorstep of everyone and leading to general improvements in living standards for all," said Felisters Mumbe, another member of the self-help group.

We are continuing to work with this group on a new project.

What We Can Do:

Sand Dam

Building this sand dam at a spot further down the river will bring water closer to hundreds of other people. 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 30 meters long and 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, a hand-dug well will be installed to give community members an easy, safe way to access that water.

With these projects, clean water will be brought 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 Kangalu Chanuka 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

May, 2021: Kangalu Community Sand Dam Complete!

Kangalu, 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.

Because sometimes it only rains once a year, it could take up to three years of rain for this sand dam to reach maximum capacity. As the sand dam matures and stores more sand, a water supply will be available for drinking from the well. With this water, the surrounding landscape will become lush and fertile.

We will return to the project when the sand dam begins to fill and water is available in the well. We will check on the progress and take pictures to share with you. Be on the lookout for another update in the coming months!

"I am happy to have been a beneficiary of these amazing water projects. I will now access unlimited clean water supply from the projects for my drinking and household use. This will lead to improved levels of hygiene and sanitation at home while also maintaining a healthy family. I will now be able to start a small kitchen garden within my home and grow vegetables for boosting family eating habits while also selling the surplus to earn income," said Josephine Kilonzi.

Completed dam and well

"Through this water project, water fetching has been made easier," said Paul, a young boy in the community.

"I will no longer be required to walk for long distances with donkeys in search of water from rivers and earth dams. The shallow well will provide us with clean water from a source we can trust because it is well covered and secure. Water has been brought close to home, which will save a lot of time. I am planning to start a tree nursery at home and nurture seedlings for planting in our compound. The existence of water will aid this at the sand dam to facilitate watering of the seedlings throughout the year."

We worked with the Kangalu Chanuka Self-Help Group for this project. The members and their families contributed materials and physical labor to complete the project. We trained the group in various skills such as bookkeeping, financial management, project management, group dynamics, and governance. We also conducted hygiene and sanitation training to teach skills like soapmaking 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.

Sand Dam

The community members collected all of the local materials like rocks and sand required to complete 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 four months.

Cement bags

Siting and technical designs were drawn and presented to the Water Resources Management Authority, and a survey was 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 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 poured into the mortar once there is enough to hold. Barbed wire and rebar are used to reinforce the mixture.

Trench for dam wing walls

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 30 meters long and 2 meters high and took 369 bags of cement to build. Sand dam construction was simultaneous to constructing a hand-dug well, which gives locals a safer method of drawing water. As the sand dam matures and stores more water, more 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.

New Knowledge

Community members were expected to attend training after the construction of their sand dam and shallow well. The trainer conferred with the field staff about their previous visits to households and interviews with community members to determine which topics the community could improve upon. The field officer Bernadette Makau was informed about the training after planning. She managed to reach the group secretary, who then informed the entire group on the training dates during their normal work at the shallow well.

The facilitators decided to train on 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.

Handwashing demonstration

The training was held at Kangalu Gospel Furthering Bible Church. Most meetings are conducted here because it is a central place found near most of the homes in the community.

Mixing soap

"This training will be of great importance to us and is expected to bring about adequate changes in our lives. I have really benefited since our last training. I normally make soap that I have been selling and restocking my business. I also use that money to buy school essentials for my children and also buy them food. I have regular customers," shared Felistus Mumbe.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

March, 2021: Kangalu Community sand dam underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Kangalu Community drains people’s 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!

A Year Later: Improved Crop Yields!

January, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Kangalu Community 2A.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kangalu Community 2A 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 built a second sand dam and shallow well in Kangalu Community, most people had to walk for several kilometers to fill a container with water.

"I had to go fetch water for my family, but I returned home feeling exhausted due to the long distance under the burning sun," said 51-year-old Jessica Mutua Katumo. "I would have to walk about five kilometers to [the] Kasovi surface water [source], which was contaminated because it was shared with livestock that would excrete inside the water. This exposed me and my family to infections like typhoid and amoeba.”

But now that there's a reliable water source close to her home, Jessica no longer has to worry about water scarcity.

“I am now able to get water for cooking and drinking within a short time because the shallow well is close to my home," Jessica said. "I also get more time and energy to focus on activities like tree planting, cultivating kitchen gardens, and crop cultivation. This waterpoint also enables proper hygiene and sanitation (both personal and general) because it offers sufficient water.”

Having water close by has improved everyone's health and outlook, making it easier for them to provide for their households.

“This water point has enabled me and the rest of the self-help group members to get more time and energy to focus on farming, which has led to improved yields," Jessica said. "Hygiene and sanitation at home has also improved and I am no longer exposed to maladies like typhoid, dysentery, or amoeba.”

Jessica 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 Kangalu Community 2A 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 Kangalu Community 2A – 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.