Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 408 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/10/2024

Project Features

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Mung'alu Community is found in a peaceful, rural area with hilly terrain made of many steep slopes. The area has significant tree coverage made of both indigenous and exotic species. A majority of people live in houses made of bricks roofed with iron sheets.

Our main entry point into the Kathungutu Community has been the Mung'alu Self-Help Group. It is an all women's group 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.

On an average day, the women in this group wake up at 6:00 am to fetch water and prepare breakfast before their children go to school and their husbands go to work on the family farm. The main water source for this community is a shallow well and sand dam which they were supported in implementing last year together with our team. However, many people here still live far from this new water point or the line to get water is too long. So they turn to other, often unsafe places to get water.

"I am thankful to our donors for having supported our community with a water project. There are still water challenges in our community because the sole water facility is not able to meet the high demand for water from the existing population. Sometimes I have been forced to seek alternative water sources when I am not able to get water from the facility," said Mdinda Musyoka, a 71-year-old farmer who is a member of the self-help group.

That is why we are committed to working with this women's group for multiple years to complete water points that will ensure everyone here has equal access to safe and reliable water.

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 Mung'alu 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 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

January, 2022: Kathungutu Community Sand Dam Complete!

Kathungutu, 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.

"I will be able to acquire water within a short distance, unlike before where we had to walk several kilometers," said 17-year-old Mercy W. "This will reduce exhaustion and offer me time and energy to focus on other activities."

Mercy in front of the sand dam.

"At home, my parents will be able to practice farming during the drought periods and sell their produce," Mercy continued. "They will use the income to pay my school fees which puts me at better career opportunities."

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 66 meters long and two meters high and took 394 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, because sometimes it only rains once a year!

We worked with the Mung'alu Women's Self-Help Group for this project. The members and their families contributed materials and a tremendous amount of physical labor.

Self-Help Group members hard at work.

New Knowledge

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.

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. As we've worked with the Mung'alu Women's Self-Help Group before, this training was a refresher for topics they asked for more guidance on.

"This reminder will help us improve on our hygiene not only at [a] personal level, but also in the environment," said Viata Mulinga, the group's chairlady. "I have learned that mostly we get sick because of eating and drinking contaminated food and water."

Viata at the training.

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

"We have set up tippy taps in our homes near the gate so that when people visit, they first wash their hands using soap," said Salina Mwende, 54, a SHG member. "We are also practicing contactless greeting, wearing masks and maintaining social distance during gatherings."


"This training will help me avoid various infections including COVID-19 that can be fatal," Salina continued. "It will also help me improve hygiene and sanitation in my home because I will use kerol (disinfectant) to clean my latrine and construct a tippy tap for handwashing after visiting the toilet."

Members expressed their thanks to all the people who partnered to bring them reliable, safe water close to their homes.

When an issue arises concerning the well, 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!

August, 2021: Kathungutu Community B Sand Dam Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Kathungutu 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: "I never thought I would own a green farm."

January, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kathungutu 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 the construction of this sand dam, we faced various challenges because getting water was a difficult ordeal," said 42-year-old Ann Mbuvi.

Before this past year, life was not easy for Ann and the other community members. They spent most of their time and energy just trying to find enough water to meet their basic needs, ending every day exhausted.

Ann continued: "We wasted a lot of time walking to rivers, which are very far from here. We had to queue at the rivers only to get water from unprotected sources, which was very unclean and unsafe for human use. This exposed us to water-related infections like typhoid, amoeba, and dysentery."

But after the sand dam was completed last year, things changed for everyone, and water became accessible.

"After constructing this sand dam, life has changed a lot. We have plenty of water which is clean and well-protected in the shallow well," Ann said.

"In the past year, I have planted numerous trees and also ventured into cash crop farming. I have also planted many trees on my farm and at home. Due to the availability of water, I am able to water my plants adequately. This project has made me acquire income and feed my family, as I never thought I would own a green farm like I do," Ann concluded.

Ann smiles as she pumps water provided by the sand dam.

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 Kathungutu 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 Kathungutu 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.


Project Sponsor - Barbara Belle Ash Dougan Foundation