Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 1,500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/06/2024

Project Features

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Mbiuni Community is a relatively dry area that is home to some 1,500 people. The homesteads are sparsely populated as community members own large pieces of land. It was the wet season during the time of our last visit, making the area quite green and vegetative. However, the landscape turns gray-brown as soon as the dry season sets in. There are many thickets of bushes in the region, some of which have been cut to create roads that the community members use.

The most common livelihood in this region is farming. The area is well known for fruit and vegetable farming, particularly oranges, mangoes, spinach, and kale - when water is available. The community members have a fruit collection company situated in Mbiuni village where the residents deliver their fruits for sale and distribution to other parts of the country.

This area of Kenya is prone to receiving little to no rainfall due to the adverse effects of climate change. The water scarcity crisis impacts the community members negatively. People have to wake up very early in the morning and walk long distances from their homesteads to fetch water. The daily chore, which is mostly left to women and children, is extremely time-consuming.

The water source community members depend on is a seasonal river that dries up during the dry seasons. Hence, people here have been unable to secure an adequate, year-round water supply. Once the river bed dries, the community members lack water for their livestock and have to strain even more to get water. During the dry season, the women have to dig scoop holes into the dry riverbed to fetch water.

"The water situation is hard to live by. We have to strain to fetch water, and we are unable to engage in any productive activities such as farming, construction activities, and any personal development projects," shared Eluid Katunda Kyundu, a local farmer.

"At times, we have inadequate food supply at our homes due to insufficient water supply for farming and establishing food production projects such as vegetable gardens. I have to keep sending my children to fetch water whenever they leave school, and it deprives them a lot of their time to study, play, or even relax."

The river scoop holes are open, exposing community members to risks of diseases such as malaria, amoeba, and typhoid. Livestock seek out the scoop holes and drink from them directly, posing great health risks to these community members. At home, hygiene and sanitation practices are hard to manage and sustain due to the insufficient water supply. Things like handwashing and cleaning latrines are often sacrificed due to the lack of water, further putting families at risk of fecal-oral diseases and water-related illnesses.

Community members have reported several health risks due to drinking water from the scoop holes including typhoid, dysentery, and amoeba, among others. Families feel heavy financial repercussions when treating these diseases as the hospitals are located far away and the treatment costs for these illnesses are very high.

"Having water is important because I will have all my needs at home solved, mostly hygiene and sanitation needs. I have to go for several trips to the water point to ensure I have adequate water for cleaning the house, cooking food, washing clothes, and water for the livestock," said Peniah Musnei Thathi.

What we can do:

Our main entry point into Mbiuni Community has been the Nduti 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 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 Nduti 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 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

February, 2022: Mbiuni Community B Sand Dam Complete!

Mbiuni, 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.

Wambua M., 5, said, "With water from the sand dam project, I will be able to plant vegetables on our family farm. I will help my parents to plant vegetables such as kale, tomatoes, and spinach."

"We plan to use the water from this sand dam project to set up a group farm project where we can plant a variety of vegetables and earn an income as we will sell the crops among ourselves and to other community members as well. The crops that we will plant will also enable us to improve our diets," said Eluid Katunda Kyongo, 70.

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 40 meters long and 3 meters high and took 802 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 Nduti Self-Help Group for this project. The members and their families contributed materials and a tremendous amount of physical labor.

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.

Eluid Kyongo, the water committee chairman, said, "The training that we received was very valuable. I acquired a lot of new knowledge from the training that will be helpful to my family and me throughout the pandemic as we are now knowledgeable on how to prevent ourselves from contracting the virus."

Our trainer Christine Lucas 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.

Field officers continually reminded the group members about the upcoming training during their weekly meetings so the attendance was large, as expected. Out of a possible 17 group members, 14 attended the training. It was held at a member’s homestead that was chosen because of its central location, easy accessibility for community members, and the ability to accommodate a large group.

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 favorite training session of the day was about disease transmission routes.  The trainers provided materials, divided the group in two, and hosted a competition to make the topic very interesting. Participants had a discussion about disease routes and agreed to adopt several new healthy practices to prevent diarrheal diseases.

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!

October, 2021: Mbiuni Community B Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Mbiuni Community B 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: Experiencing great changes!

April, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mbiuni 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 implementation of this water project, getting water was a very difficult task," said 72-year-old farmer and chairperson of the water user committee Eliud Katinda.

"The river would totally dry out during the dry seasons, and we had to dig very deep scoop holes to access water for use. Farming activities were very hard to sustain. Our crops always dried up because of insufficient water supply. A lot of time was also spent searching for water, especially as we approached the end of the year since most water sources had dried up,” Eliud continued.

But things have been different since a sand dam was implemented in Eliud's community of Mbiuni last year.

"Community members are now seeing the benefit and impact of the project as it has reduced the time they often spend searching for water. The water table has really increased, thus allowing easy access to water, [and] our environment has also really improved," Eliud shared.

Readily available water has also inspired Eliud, and he has seen dramatic changes and gone from surviving to thriving.

“In the past one year, we have experienced really great changes, such as the consistent and stable availability of water for household use and farming activities. I have a shamba next to the sand dam, and it is doing quite well. Through the implementation of this project, I have managed to regain my financial stability thanks to [the] availability of water," Eliud said.

"At my age, I am still energetic. It takes very little time to fetch water from the well and get back home. As a result, my wife and I are able to engage in other development activities that are less time-consuming or draining. I decided to plant fruit trees [like] oranges for my children and grandchildren to enjoy and have a test of the fruits of hard work. This is rewarding indeed,” he concluded.

Eliud pumps water from the well attached to 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 Mbiuni 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 Mbiuni 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.


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