Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/20/2024

Project Features

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The daily routine for the people living in Yathui, Kenya, starts between 5:00 am and 6:00 am. This is when the community members have to wake up to go to the river to dig scoop holes for fetching water. The distance covered to bring the water is very far, which makes the chore of fetching water very time-consuming. Their river is seasonal and often dries up during the dry season, making the locals walk for long distances to alternative water sources that are far from their homes to fetch water.

It takes more than two hours to walk to the river, fetch water, and walk home for some people. A lot of money is spent purchasing water for use while it could be used for other income-generating activities.

"Our children have to spend a lot of their time fetching water instead of studying. We have to keep buying vegetables treated with unknown chemicals, unlike if we had water to establish our own vegetable gardens. A lot of our time is spent on fetching water," added Rachel Mwende.

Some 500 people here rely on this water point that is far away and often crowded. The people fetching water - usually women and girls - spend a lot of time at the water source waiting their turn to fetch water. For those without donkeys, the strain is deeper as they have to ferry their jerrycans on their backs and return to the water point several times per day until they fetch enough water for use.

"I have to pay water vendors to deliver water for use at my home, which is expensive. The vendor delivers six jerrycans of water, which I have to use sparingly to meet all my needs for four days. We often struggle to get enough drinking water," said Raphael Mathendu, a 52-year-old farmer.

Community members with donkeys typically fetch four jerrycans in the morning, getting back at midday. The morning water typically goes toward household chores such as washing clothes, dishes, and cooking. They return in the afternoon to bring more water for evening uses. A lot of time is spent in search of water.

What we can do:

Our main entry point into Yathui Community has been the Maluti Women 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 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 and 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 hindered their fullest potential.

We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with the Maluti Women 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 ensure that participants know 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 handling, storing, and treating 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

January, 2022: Yathui Community Sand Dam Complete!

Yathui, 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 sand dam] will enable me to easily get water for drinking, bathing, and washing my uniforms," said six-year-old Joseph M. "My mother will not get tired of walking for long distances to fetch water. This will allow for preparation of meals on time."

"I will use the water for farming and for improving my hygiene and sanitation at home by washing hands, making soap, and also ensuring my family bathes on a daily basis," said Francesca Mutuku, 50.

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 64 meters long and three meters high.

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 Maluti Women's Self-Help Group for this project. The members and their families contributed materials and a tremendous amount of physical labor.

New Knowledge

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.

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.

Raphael Muasya Mathendu, chairman of the self-help group, said, "As a community, there will be a lot of change in our lives and our hygiene and sanitation practices. Additionally, the skills that we have been taught will be key in generating income. I anticipate my life to improve thanks to the training that we have received."

All the members of the group participated fully during the training by asking questions, adding informative comments in relation to their day-to-day activities, and joking as well. Their active participation made the entire session very fun and enjoyable.

The group members expressed the most interest in learning about COVID-19, where they were excited to dispel some of the myths and misconceptions they had picked up about how the virus can be spread.

When asked about how the community plans to respond to COVID-19 after the training, Francesca said, "We will start washing our hands with clean running water and soap. We will establish handwashing tippy taps to ensure we wash hands at all times. We will also continue wearing masks at all times in public places. Soap-making will now be very key in ensuring all community members wash their hands and protect themselves against contracting the virus. If we continue practicing proper hygiene and sanitation and all the guidelines given, we will manage to control the spread of the virus and suppress it."

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!

November, 2021: Yathui Community Sand Dam Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Yathui 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: "Now, fetching water has even become fun!"

January, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Yathui 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 the construction of this project, life was very hard. We had to walk through very dusty roads to the river each and every day. Young people in our community have had it rough over [the] years as they are the ones responsible for collecting water in the society," said 18-year-old Eunice M.

Eunice continued: "Walking for two kilometers wasn’t very easy considering the terrain of our community. At times, we had to walk to River Athi, which is four kilometers away."

But last year, a sand dam was built and the attached well is providing plenty of water for everyone in the community.

"Now, fetching water has even become fun! Before, [my parents] would send me to the river, but I would be hesitant, considering the distance and the kind of energy it requires, both physical and psychological. I have loved fetching water now, and I’ve become responsible of late. I am currently helping out in the shamba (family garden), where we have grown a lot of vegetables," said Eunice.

With ready access to water whenever she likes, Eunice has made good use of her time and started some agricultural projects.

“In the past year, I have been able to establish tree planting in my home, and now the trees established are doing quite well. I have also been involved in vegetable growing which has made me realize that when you want to think about farming, water is key,” concluded Eunice.


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 Yathui 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 Yathui 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.


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