Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 1,284 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/03/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

The Ivumbu community is found in a reasonably high altitude area that has land and a climate favorable to agriculture. The majority of the 1,284 community members here are involved in subsistence farming - growing crops such as maize, peas, beans, mangoes, and bananas for family use. They then sell the surplus for profit. Other community members work hard to provide for their families through various formal and informal employment.

For most people in the Ivumbu community, the day starts at 6:00 am when people get out of their beds. Children prepare for school, and after that, livestock are either taken for grazing or tethered in the available pieces of families' land. After that, the parents take breakfast and settle for other activities. The wife in each family is generally tasked with going out and looking for water for her family's use, then coming back to run household errands. Husbands typically engage in the main income-generating activities for each family such as farming or casual labor.

The main water point for the community is a well and sand dam project that we supported in 2019. Our main entry point into the Ivumbu community has been the Ivumbu Irrigation Self-Help Group, which is comprised of households that are working together to address water and food scarcity in their region. Communities in this region are large and spread out, which is why we work with self-help groups for three to five years on multiple water projects to address their water needs.

A well can comfortably support 350 people. But for many people here, it still takes up to 2 hours to fetch water each day. By constructing a new well and sand dam 1.5 miles away from our previous project, people will not have to travel as far and wait as long to get water.

"Our community suffers from the challenge of lacking an adequate water source for all of us. We are seeking to work on more community water projects so that water can be close to all of us because some people currently walk for long distances to reach the sole water point in our village," said Mbithi Ndeto, a local farmer.

"Fetching water in our community has not been easy," added young teenager Ndunge.

"I often go looking for water after school to supplement what my mum had already fetched. Sometimes, the water point has many people, which necessitates long waits making the process difficult for me. Another water project would help address the challenges we are facing currently."

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 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 Ivumbu Irrigation 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

August, 2021: Ivumbu Community Sand Dam Complete!

Ivumbu, 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 will also construct 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.

"I will have access to clean water for cooking, drinking, washing clothes, and the house," said Benjamin Maundu, a local farmer. "A lot of my time which was used walking for distances to fetch water will be channeled to farming activities and brick-making."

Another community member, Purity Mutisya (a farmer and mother), said, "The water will help me in engaging in consistent farming activities. I will use it for washing clothes and utensils, cooking, and for my general hygiene and sanitation at home.

"Having a child, I need plenty of water for cleanliness, which will be made easy thanks to this water point. I will also have enough time to save and engage in developmental and income-generating activities."

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 35 meters long and 3 meters high, and took 830 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 Ivumbu Irrigation Self-Help Group for this project, with whom we've worked a few times before. The members and their families contributed materials and a tremendous amount of physical labor to complete the project.

We conducted a refresher training for 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 still improve upon.

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 chairman of the Self-Help Group, Sila Kathungu, a 55-year-old farmer, spoke about the impact of the refresher training on the community: "The refresher training will play a huge role in improving the hygiene and sanitation of the group members. There will be less risks of contracting diseases, as we now have the knowledge of maintaining proper hygiene and sanitation."

"The knowledge we gained from the training sessions was very important," added Purity Mutisya. "I learned about soap-making, which is key in improving the handwashing practice, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, when hygiene and sanitation is key."

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: Ivumbu Community Sand Dam Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Ivumbu 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: A Story Still in the Making

September, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Ivumbu 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!

A year ago, Ivumbu's people worked together to build a sand dam and shallow well system. Since then, life has changed.

"Before the construction of this project, life was very hard," said 18-year-old Benjamin M. "We got water from a scoop hole which is in [the] River Ivumbu but very far from our place. We could walk around 1.5 kilometers getting it. [It was rough to get access to water. The source was very congested, especially during [the] dry seasons. We [could] only get water for drinking and [a] little washing at home.”

With so much time spent fetching water, Benjamin hated the monotony of trudging back and forth to the water point under the hot sun. A year later, things are different.

"Now, I find it easy to get water from here," Benjamin continued. "Life is not all the same like before. I wake up at my own pace. Within a couple of minutes, then back I am with clean water. Water from this sand dam has really been of benefit to me so far. I have ventured in vegetable and tree planting, this has made me become busy in a productive way.”

This productivity represents a dream realized for young Benjamin, whose vision for his future is now much more optimistic.

“I really wanted to grow vegetables of my own before this project was implemented," Benjamin said. "Now, the project is here and working well. I have managed to realize my dream just after completing school, and hopefully, the project will be very big, and one day, I shall have a story to tell. So far, the story is evident and in the making.”

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 Ivumbu 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 Ivumbu 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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