Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 1,428 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/10/2024

Project Features

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Kyamwalye community is a largely populated area that is home to more than 1,400 people. The area is in a quiet rural location with sloping terrain. Most of the roads leading to the location are dry weather roads, with limited tree coverage made of indigenous tree species.

On an average day for community members here, the women and children wake up at 6:00 am. First, women prepare breakfast for the family while children get ready for school. Then, the women head to the river to get water for their families' use, either using donkeys or carrying it on their backs.

Community members depend on scoop holes in the Kaiti River for all their water needs. The scoop holes dug into seasonal riverbeds are shared by people and wild animals, exposing the water in the open holes to contaminants that cause waterborne illnesses. The water points are prone to drying up during the driest months of the year when there is no rain, which makes the community even more vulnerable to water challenges.

"I always have to walk to the river fetching water daily in the morning and in the afternoon to cater for the water needs of my family. Sometimes, I find so many people in line, I end up taking more than 30 minutes waiting for my turn," said Kanini Mwongela.

"The water is never clean, and sometimes it looks colored, which makes it not safe for drinking, but we have no other options here as it is the only water source."

Most community members in this locality engage in small-scale farming reliant on the rains. They grow maize, beans, cowpeas, pigeon peas, and green grams for home use, selling any surplus in the market. Others choose to farm along the river, but their success is limited and tied directly to the river's seasonal flow.

During the day, women do the laundry, tidy up the house, wash utensils, and prepare lunch and supper for their families. Depending on the size of their household and its water needs, many women and children may be required to travel back to the water source multiple times each day to get enough water for their use at home, especially in the evening after school.

"Our area has suffered from marginalization by successive government regimes with no tangible water project ever being implemented here. This compels households to fetch water from river scoop holes even in modern times. The water is not enough to engage in agriculture and build wealth, leading to a high poverty index among our people," said Robert Kimina.

What we can do:

Our main entry point into Kyamwalye Community has been the Kyeni Kya Kiianzou 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 the community a 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 been a big hindrance to reaching their fullest potential.

We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with the Kyeni Kya Kiianzou 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 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 typically work with self-help groups for three to five 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

October, 2021: Kyamwalye Community Sand Dam Complete!

Kyamwalye, 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.

"Having access to clean water will enable me to improve my hygiene and sanitation at home," said 17-year-old Noel M.

Noel at the sand dam site.

"Now we will be able to wash hands at all times and ensure the household is clean and accommodative for everyone. Drinking clean water from this water point will help me to be healthier. I will not fall sick often as I used to."

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 70 meters long and four meters high and took 1,800 bags of cement to build.

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 Kyeni Kya Kiianzou Self-Help Group for this project. The members and their families contributed materials and a tremendous amount of physical labor.

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

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.

Attendance was as expected, with only 10 out of the 60 self-help group members being unable to attend. This made for a lively and interesting discussion.

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 training was very valuable to us," said Robert Kimina, the chairperson of the self-help group. "We were taught how to stay clean at all times and ensure we are washing our hands with clean running water and soap. We were also taught on soap making and how to maintain proper hygiene and sanitation at our homes."

For this group, the most important (and exciting!) topic was disease transmission. The people were split into three smaller groups. Each group was then provided with a similar set of posters with hygiene- and sanitation-related situations and were tasked to name and identify at least five routes of disease transmission.

After the exercise, each group nominated one person to present their discussion to the rest of the members. The groups demonstrated what they had discovered. One group was very proactive during this exercise and they outshined the rest by identifying seven routes rather than five. This made the members of this group brag a little, and everyone laughed.

Another topic that will surely have lasting effects was the soap-making session. The group decided that they would not only make soap for their own household use, but also sell the soap they make at a profit. They even elected a sub-committee to oversee this project and ensure its sustainability. They pinpointed their key demographic and where they would buy supplies.

"The health of our families will improve if we follow what we have learned during this training," Robert continued. "The group training setup has also enabled us to exchange ideas among ourselves on how to improve the general hygiene and sanitation of our homesteads, as well as our personal hygiene."

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.

When asked about his plans for the future, Noel's vision included a reliable source of water. "When I finish school, I will venture into agriculture," Noel concluded. "I will use the water to plant crops, fruits, and vegetables for sale to generate an income that will be helpful to my family."

Thank you for making all of this possible!

August, 2021: Kyamwalye Community Sand Dam Project Underway!

Dirty water is making people in Kyamwalye 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!

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: A Responsible Girl

January, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kyamwalye 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 helped Kyamwalye Community construct a sand dam and shallow well in their community, water was scarce, and people had to travel long distances to get it.

"Getting water was not easy," said 11-year-old Mirriam W. "The water was always being obtained from far distances, most of the time it [was] my mum and my elder siblings who were involved in the process of looking for water. Sometimes it would take them [a] long [time], and they [would come] back home tired."

But now, water is much closer to the people in this community, and with reliable access to water, almost every aspect of life becomes easier to improve.

"Water has been brought closer to our home through this water project," Mirriam said. "It is easily accessible, and [the source] always has [had] water for the last one year. Having water closer home has led me to assist my parents in getting water home after school in the evenings. I am also cleaner because there is plenty of water at home."

And it's not only Mirriam's hygiene that's improved.

"I have been learning on how to wash my clothes and assist Mum in cleaning utensils using the water," Mirriam said. "This was not possible in the past because water had to be rationed. By learning these skills, [I] am growing up as a responsible girl who participates in house chores while also maintaining high standards of personal hygiene."

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 Kyamwalye 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 Kyamwalye 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 - StossWater