Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/16/2024

Project Features

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An average day for the 500 people living in Kitile B Village begins by waking up in the wee hours of the morning, around 5:00 am, to walk to the nearest source of water. Their primary water source is a river located anywhere between a 30-minute to 2-hour walk from community members' homes, depending on which side of the village they live.

People use open scoop holes dug into the dry riverbed to fetch their water and then return home. The chore is often delegated to the women and children.

The region is arid due to climate change, and it has wavering rain patterns. Due to the challenges of water scarcity in the region, community members often find long queues at the scoop holes, which are their nearest water source at the onset of each dry season.

The long wait times cause delays for everyone fetching water, affecting their daily schedules. When they are held up fetching water, mothers cannot get home in time to make breakfast for their families, and children leave for school without eating and arrive at class late.

When even the scoop holes in this nearby river dry up quickly during the dry seasons, community members have to rely on yet another river, the Athi River, which is more than 4 miles away, for scoop holes. It is very strenuous for them to walk this far, especially considering some do not have donkeys and must carry their heavy containers on their backs for the 8-mile round-trip.

"I have to walk very far to fetch water. The water is scarce, and it runs out very fast. It barely lasts us a year," said John.

Water from scoop holes or even flowing rivers is not safe for human consumption as it contains a lot of contaminants from the surrounding area. This includes human and animal waste, dirt, and farm chemicals. Livestock also rely on the rivers, drinking directly from the same source people collect from, thus exposing the locals to risks of contracting water-related diseases. Community members are often fighting cases of amoeba, typhoid, and dysentery as a result of drinking this water.

Water from these scoop holes is not only unsafe but inadequate to serve the entire community.

"Water scarcity is a great challenge in my family. We have to purchase water during the dry periods. Hygiene and sanitation practices are quite difficult to manage and sustain due to insufficient water. We neglect the basic cleanliness practices that we need to adhere to, such as bathing, washing the house, cleaning the clothes, among others. My children have been so used to fetching water after school for use at their homes and the strains of carrying water from the river at the scoop holes," explained Winfred Ndinda.

The most common livelihoods in this community are farming, casual labor jobs, and running small entrepreneurial businesses such as shops. Men tend to opt for motorcycle taxi businesses to earn a living as it is the primary mode of transportation in the area. Households are made of bricks and iron sheet roofing. The homesteads are very sparsely populated as community members own substantial pieces of land.

What we can do:

Our main entry point into Kitile B Village has been the Mbotela 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 Mbotela 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

February, 2022: Kitile B Clean Water Update!

You were a major part of establishing a sand dam in the community of Kitile B. When we install sand dams, we build up sand to raise the water table and naturally filter water. However, it often takes a rainy season or two for the projects to reach their full potential. We are thrilled to report the sand dam and shallow well are now filled with water and fully functional, providing clean water to the community. Thank you for making clean water a reality for this region. By having consistent access to reliable water, the people of this community’s health, energy, finances, and free time are sure to improve!

August, 2021: Kitile B Village Sand Dam Complete!

Kitile B, 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.

"Access to reliable and safe water will enable me to engage in all the chores that are at home peacefully and on time," said Mutheu M., a 12-year-old student. "I will not have to spend time fetching water from scoopholes, because the water will be protected and safe for direct consumption.

"For now, I find it difficult getting back home with the donkeys carrying heavy jerrycans of water because the terrain is very sloppy. Through this project, I will easily fetch water and get back home without any strain. I will use the water to wash my clothes/uniforms, wash the house, cook, wash my utensils, and maintain proper hygiene and sanitation."

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 36 meters long and four meters high, and took 750 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 Mbotela 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.

"Access to reliable and safe water will enable me to access clean drinking water within a very short distance as compared to how far we used to walk to fetch water for use," said George Munyoki, 62, who is a farmer, and also the group's chairman. "I will have enough water for hygiene and sanitation practices in my home. The water will be clean and also reduce the chances of contracting diseases because the water will be safe and protected.

"More of my time will be saved to engage in other income-generating activities. I will utilize the water for farming. I plan to engage in intensive farming activities because I believe the sand dam will harvest a lot of water for use here. I will plant vegetables such as spinach, kale, and coriander; I also plan to start fruit farming such as watermelons for agribusiness."

We also conducted hygiene and sanitation training to teach skills like soapmaking and improve behaviors such as handwashing.

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.

The training took place at the sand dam site. The weather was moderately favorable as it was cold, chilly, and (at times) sunny. The training venue was accommodative as it had plenty of trees to provide shade. There was a very high turn-out, with all 45 members attending. They were very active throughout the training session: asking questions, volunteering to participate in the roleplay activities, and engaging each other in the hygiene and sanitation activities.

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 soap-making.

The most memorable topic for this group was COVID-19; specifically, preventing the spread, its cause, and ways of curbing the disease within the community. We had a tippy tap placed in a strategic place for handwashing to ensure that everyone observes protocols and government guidelines. The community members were very excited to learn how to make and wear masks, and how to protect themselves from contracting the disease through their way of living.

"The training was very helpful and knowledgeable," said Winfred Muinde, 45, the group's secretary. "We have learned a lot of skills, knowledge, and information such as soap making, proper handwashing procedure, and the importance of managing/ maintaining proper hygiene and sanitation.

"As a community, we will manage to sustain proper hygiene and sanitation practices thanks to the training that we have received."

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!

June, 2021: Kitile B Village Sand Dam underway!

Dirty and unreliable water is making people in Kitile B Village 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!

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: Productive Farm Dream Realized!

August, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kitile B 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, we could trek all day long to search for water which would be hardly enough to implement any agricultural practice. All the trees I tried to grow went dry during [the] dry seasons," said 62-year-old George Kasomo.

"We used to get water from River Athi whenever the river adjacent to us went dry. One would only make one trip to [the] river as it's very far. One [trip] could take around 3 hours. For one to be able to attend [to] other household chores, it was necessary to leave as early as 4:00 am."

But life has been different for George and his family since a sand dam was installed last year.

"After constructing this sand dam, life has changed a lot. Since I was a boy, I had had a wish to have my farm become productive, a goal that has been realized through intervention by your organization. I have managed to grow cowpeas, kales, arrowroot, [and] bananas, along with many other different types of trees. I have also encouraged my sons to focus on farming as water is available throughout.

"We never have to worry about what we shall drink nowadays. Life is good for us now. A lot has greatly changed, and we are optimistic that we shall witness more changes as we continue to construct more sand dams along our river channel."

George tends his farm.

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 Kitile B 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 Kitile B 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.


Project Sponsor - Barbara Belle Ash Dougan Foundation