Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/15/2024

Project Features

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Nzimba village is found on fairly hilly terrain with natural vegetation cover of indigenous tree species. None of the roads leading to the community are paved. A majority of the 1,500 community members living in Nzimba rely on small-scale farming and livestock rearing to make a living. People usually grow crops such as pigeon peas, millet, and green grams for their families to eat, selling any surplus at the market. With the vast lands available, community members also rear goats for sale to pay for family needs.

All 1,500 people here rely on one water point - a sand dam and shallow well, which we helped the community implement last year. With the whole community depending on it, the well becomes overcrowded at times. Time lost in line at the well is compounded with the time community members from the farthest ends of the village spend on their walk to the well, making the chore particularly long and tedious.

"I have been drawing water from the project we implemented last year since its completion. It is a bit far for me because it takes me more than one hour to the well and back. The implementation of more projects on our side downstream would help those of us hailing from this side to access water more easily and engage in more personal development activities," said Mwikali Muthengi.

Our main entry point into Nzimba Community has been the Kasilu 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.

We typically work with self-help groups for up to five years on multiple water projects. This Kenyan region is semi-arid, which means that rains are infrequent, and people often travel long distances for water. Completing multiple water points in a community will ensure that people like Mwikali no longer spend a significant part of their day walking to get water.

"Fetching water is a daily affair in our community. Many people meet at the water point, all seeking to fetch water since it is the sole water point in the village. This makes it congested, and sometimes it takes more time than expected. Implementation of more projects can help address the challenge as people will have many projects to access water from," added Mbuli Mutisya.

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 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 reaching their fullest potential.

We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with the Kasilu 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 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 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 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

November, 2021: Nzimba Community B Sand Dam Complete!

Nzimba Community, 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.

16-year-old Musyoka M. shared all the things about his life that will change with reliable water. "I will no longer have to walk long distances searching for water. My academic performance will improve because I will no longer spend time searching for water and I will not be absent from school due to diseases that occur due to water contamination. My hygiene and sanitation levels will also improve because the water is enough to conduct personal 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 32 meters long and 3 meters high and took 850 bags of cement to build.

The dam has already begun to 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 Kasilu Self-Help Group for this project. The members and their families contributed materials and a tremendous amount of physical labor.

New Knowledge

This isn't our first project with the Kasilu Self-Help Group, so 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 conducted hygiene and sanitation training to teach skills like soapmaking and improve behaviors such as handwashing.

"Honestly, we had relaxed in some practices like water treatment and handwashing: very critical practices whereby lack of keen attention may lead to spread of diseases at a very high rate," said 69-year-old Mutiso Kondo.

"Now, after that refresher, we have chosen to go start practicing. We will also install sanitation infrastructures that were not installed and make sure that we live according to the training. We will change the living standards in our area. We are going to share the knowledge and skills with our neighbors and friends in order to make a uniform change in our area."

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.

"This training was valuable to me because it reinforced what we had been taught before," said Eunice Makasi, 33. "I had lowered my guard concerning COVID-19 prevention but now I have been taught about the importance of contactless greeting, washing hands with soap, and proper household hygiene and sanitation. This information will help me stop the spread of COVID-19 at home while improving the living standards in my household."

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!

August, 2021: Nzimba Community B Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Nzimba 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: Boosting Family's Diet!

February, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Nzimba 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!

Last year, community members of Nzimba used to walk extremely far distances to find water.

“Before the construction of this sand dam project, I used to walk for long distances (about ten kilometers) to [the] Kamunyu River in order to fetch water for use," said 70-year-old farmer Kimelu Mutui.

"[The] Kamunyu River is also seasonal with an inadequate supply of water; thus, conducting personal hygiene and sanitation was an occasional affair. I had to borrow water for cooking or drinking from other community members when I was not able to go fetch water from the seasonal Kamunyu River.”

But since we installed a second sand dam and shallow well pair in Nzimba, life has become much easier for people who lived on the farthest edges of the community, like Kimelu.

“I am now able to get water for cooking and drinking within a short time because the shallow well is close to my home," Kimelu said. "I also get more time and energy to focus on activities like tree-planting, cultivating kitchen gardens, and crop cultivation. This waterpoint enables crop irrigation and offers enough water for hygiene and sanitation (both personal and general).”

Now that farming has been simplified, Kimelu hopes to extend her planting reach even further.

“Through this water point, I can manage to water the tree nurseries we have at home for income generation," Kimelu said. "I plan to improve [my] vegetable garden, where I will plant more kale, spinach, and onions for boosting my family’s diet.”

Kimelu at the well.

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 Nzimba 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 Nzimba 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 - SafeEarth
1 individual donor(s)