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The Water Project: Thona Community -  Celebrating The Dam
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Community Members At Their Dam
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Sand Dam Plaque
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Community Members At Hygiene Training
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Construction Materials
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Nzambi Musyoka
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Soap Making
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Soap Making
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Soap Making
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Training
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Training
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Complete Dam
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Completed Dam
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Dam Progress
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Dam Walls Continue To Build
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Scaffolding Dam Walls
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Working On Dam
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Livestock
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Self Help Group Members At The River
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Landscape
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Community Members At The Open Water
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Compound
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Carrying Rocks For Project Construction
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Clothesline
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Water Storage Containers
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Carrying Water Home
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Carrying Water
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Compound
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Kitchen
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Coooking
The Water Project: Thona Community -  Lucy Kanini

Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 12/04/2021

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

Thona Community is found in a peaceful rural setting with characteristic steep slopes and hilly terrain found throughout southeastern Kenya. The area has sparsely distributed vegetation cover as a result of dry conditions experienced in the area. More than 1,300 people live in this community, but they are spread out from each other since most families make a living through farming. Some people here earn an income through informal labor jobs, as well.

The main water point here is a sand dam and a hand-dug well constructed here last year. However, that alone cannot meet the water needs of all the people here. Many community members still struggle with traveling long distances to access water. This means there is a need for more water projects near their homes to achieve universal water access to all residents of the community.

“Life in our village has been improving since the day we started working with The Water Project. Our first water project came with water and knowledge on some of the best ways to improve our cleanliness levels and avoid diseases in our lives. We need more projects in order to have unlimited water access by everyone in our area,” shared Luzy Kanini, a farmer who lives in the community.

On an average day for most of the community members, women and children wake up early in the morning to get ready for the day. The women usually prepare breakfast for the family as the children get ready to go to school. The women or the children will go to fetch water at the best possible source, depending on the time of the year. The men go to the farm to get grass for the livestock and also prepare to run his errands. During the day, the women wash the family’s clothes, tidy up the house, cleans utensils, and prepares lunch as well as supper for the family, among other household chores.

For some people here, the time lost to fetching water is significant.

“More water projects are welcome as they will bring water even closer and continue reducing the distances covered and time taken at the water points,” said Wanza Ndembei.

What we can do:

Our main entry point into Thona Community has been the Ndithi Tuinuke 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 a comfortable, 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 significant hindrance to reaching their fullest potential.

We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with the Ndithi Tuinuke Self-Help Group and other community members to teach about essential 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.

The community and we firmly 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 training 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

04/30/2021: Thona Community Sand Dam Complete!

Thona, 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.

"This new water project is like a dream come true. It will bring water close to my family and me. Having easy access to clean water all the time will be good for us as it will lead to improved living standards and improved levels of hygiene and sanitation, especially at times like now during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Wanza Ndemmbei.

"I am looking forward to improved income generation through poultry and livestock farming because my chicken and animal population will have easy access to water from the new water points."

We worked with the Ndithi Tuinuke Self-Help Group for this project. The members and their families contributed materials and physical labor to complete the project. Also, they were trained on 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.

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.

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 38 meters long and 3 meters high and took 723 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. However, it could take up to three years of rain for this sand dam to reach maximum capacity; sometimes, it only rains once a year!

"This sand dam and the shallow well project will help increase access to clean water and water for farming activities to our homes. Our community will now be more water secure. The project is close to my homestead, and access to clean water will now be from a stone's throw distance," said farmer Lucy Kanini.

"I am now in a better position to engage in irrigation farming because water is available in unlimited quantities. I will establish a kitchen garden and help improve my family's eating habits using the available water resources from the project."

New Knowledge

The area Field Officer Patrick Musyoka was in charge of community mobilization for the training. He called the self-help group chairperson and notified him of the date of the training. All community group members were invited for the training alongside local community leaders.

Patrick 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.

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.

The community members chose to have their training at the local shopping center called Ndithi. The training was done in a commercial plot built by the community group.

A notable topic during the training was latrines. Latrine construction at home is emphasized since open deification is one factor leading to diarrheal diseases. During a follow-up that our team did in 2019 at almost all the self-help group member's homesteads, it was noted that there happened to be a member who did not have a latrine. The member was encouraged to construct a latrine but never did it.

During this training, the member testified that he came to learn that open defecation can make someone sick. He said that this pushed him to construct a latrine. Members were impressed by his decision and found the topic memorable.

Soap making

“The hygiene training has been of great importance to us in so many ways. Since we first attended the training, a lot of positive changes have been experienced. Waterborne diseases have reduced, people in our area that did not have latrines have constructed latrines, and implementation of other sanitation infrastructures has been done," shared Nzambi Mysyoka.

"Today's refresher has woken us up, and it will really help us much since it has reminded us where we have fallen as far as hygiene and sanitation is concerned. Handwashing stations in most homes at the gate were not functional, but now we are going to fix them."

Mixing soap

Thank you for making all of this possible!

The Water Project : kenya21408-community-members-at-their-dam

03/01/2021: Thona Community sand dam underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Thona Community drains peoples’ 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!

The Water Project : kenya20328-20329-self-help-group-members-at-the-river

Project Photos

Project Type

Sand Dam

Seasonal streams (and the sand they carry) are trapped by dams, replenishing the water table and allowing for adjacent hand-dug wells. Almost completely led by community-supplied sweat and materials, and under the supervision of engineers, dams are strategically placed within those dry river-beds. The next time it rains, flood-waters are trapped.

With a sand dam, this trapped sand begins to hold millions of gallons of rainwater. Soon enough, sand reaches the top of the dam, allowing water to continue downstream – where it meets the next dam. The result? A regional water table is restored.


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