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The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Celebrating The Dam
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Sand Dam From Left
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Sand Dam From Below
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Complete Sand Dam
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Complete Dam
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Action Plan
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Building Up Dam Wall
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Dam Construction
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Laying Cement
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Construction
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Trench In Progress
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Gathered Rocks
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Materials
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Latrine
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Working On The Farm
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Working On The Farm
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Garden
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Dishrack
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Chicken Coop
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Tippy Tap
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Compound
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Compound
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Cooking
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Walking At Home
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Kitchen
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Latrine
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Inside Kitchen
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Mwikali Kimwele
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Tabitha Mutheke
The Water Project: Kathamba ngii Community B -  Beatrice Mwikali

Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 2,008 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

Kathamba ngii Community is found in a rural, peaceful area that has an average vegetation coverage of mainly indigenous trees. Most of the buildings here are made of bricks and covered with iron sheet roofing.

On a typical day, community members here wake up very early to fetch water and complete chores before working on their farms or as casual laborers for others. But it is the first task that defines the rest of their daily routine; accessing water is a challenge in this semi-arid region of Kenya.

“Our area suffers a long dry season every year. In such times, the few water points present are unable to meet the water demands of the existing population,” explained Beatrice Mwikali.

Our main entry point into Kathamba ngii Community is the Kwa Mbunza 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 in this area. This is the third project we will complete with this group to improve water access for the more than 2,000 people living here.

Community members living on the edges of the village are still struggling with long distances to access the few water points available. This brings out the need for more water projects near their homes to achieve universal water access to all residents of the locality. We work with groups over multiple years to ensure that everyone has access to safe, reliable water close to home.

“Despite having implemented 2 water projects in our locality, the need for more water is rife because water is such an essential commodity in human life. I come from a bit far from the already-done projects and I have been struggling with the long walks to access water, which derails my personal development since I spend much time in the pursuit of water,” said Tabitha Mutheke.

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 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 Kwa Mbunza 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

08/05/2021: Kathamba ngii Community Sand Dam Complete!

Kathamba ngii, 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.

"This water point will offer me clean water for irrigating my crops and drinking. It will also offer my cattle a place to access clean water. The sand dam will hold sand, which retains water for longer periods that can sustain me and my community during long drought periods," said Peter Mutuku, 42.

"It will offer me a job opportunity to acquire income, since I will plant crops and sell them. It will also save my community from walking over 4 kilometers in search of water. My community's hygiene levels will improve since we will have clean water for cleaning, cooking, and drinking. This will reduce the spread of hygiene-related diseases such as cholera and COVID-19."

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 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.

This dam measures 45 meters long and 2 meters high and took 380 bags of cement to build.

As soon as it rains, the dam will 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, because sometimes it only rains once a year!

We worked with the Kwa Mbunza 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 soapmaking and improve behaviors such as handwashing.

New Knowledge

This is the third project in this community. Our 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 training was held near the construction site. Though the weather was hot, the trees around the place gave enough shade and fresh air; it was a conducive place to conduct the training.

We decided to train on health problems in the community, good and bad hygiene behaviors, the spread and prevention of disease, sanitation improvements, planning for behavioral change, handwashing, and soapmaking.

Different methods of water treatment were discussed, including water guard use, moringa seeds, boiling, and SODIS (Solar Disinfection). The group said that they learned boiling is the safest method of water treatment, since it doesn’t use any chemicals, and no germs can survive when water reaches its boiling point. Also covered were latrines: proper use and sanitation. Several members of the group stated that they had not previously considered latrines an important structure, but now they knew their importance in cleanliness.

Tabitha Matheka, the vice chairlady of the group, shared the following: "Some members who were not in the first training have gained sufficient knowledge on hygiene and sanitation that will help them in improving hygiene at their homes, thus reducing diseases. Water treatment is an activity that hasn’t been practiced well by many, but from today, we will put it into practice since we have learned the stages at which our water can get contaminated."

When an issue arises concerning the sand dam, 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.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

The Water Project : kenya21414_celebrating

06/07/2021: Kathamba ngii Community sand dam underway!

Dirty and unreliable water is making people in Kathamba ngii 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!

The Water Project : 9-kenya19211-fetching-water

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.


Project Sponsor - Barbara Belle Ash Dougan Foundation