Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 250 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/15/2024

Project Features

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For a long time, Kyamwau villagers have persevered through the challenges of water scarcity as a result of the climatic conditions in their area, as they receive little to no rainfall during the year. The rivers flowing in the region are seasonal, and they always dry up, leaving the locals with no option but to walk for very long distances in search of this precious commodity.

The households in this region are sparsely populated due to ownership of vast amounts of land by community members. Most houses are made of bricks and are fitted with iron sheet roofing. The roads in the village are rocky and very bumpy, and the terrain is very hilly and rough.

Access to water is one of the most significant challenges for the 250 people here. Women have to wake up early at 6:00 AM to walk to the seasonal rivers to fetch water and get back home in time to carry out their other household duties, such as preparing their children to go to school and breakfast for their husbands to go to the farms.

During the day, these women may go to the water point again to fetch water as the needs of the house require. The water sources are far from their households, and some people travel 2 hours to get water. They have to spend a lot of time searching for water points, especially during drought periods when they have to dig scoop holes to fetch water stored in the riverbeds. Often, they use the water at home sparingly to reduce trips to the river.

"Once the water dries up, we have to go very far to fetch water. We do not get water for our livestock or household uses because of water scarcity," said Esther Mueni, a 31-year-old farmer.

All of this effort is to get unsafe water for consumption since it is open to contaminants that cause water-borne diseases. Community members have reported suffering from water-related diseases such as typhoid, amoebas, and dysentery.

What we can do:

Our main entry point into the community is the Kwa Kalekye 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 both 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 been a big hindrance to reaching their fullest potential.

We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with the Kwa Kalekye Self-Help Group and other community members to teach about important hygiene practices and daily habits. This training will help 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 the handling, storage, and treatment of water. Having a clean water source will be extremely helpful, but it is useless if water gets contaminated by consuming it. 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 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 contact the group after all of the projects are completed to support their efforts to improve sanitation and hygiene.

Project Updates

March, 2022: Kyamwau Community Sand Dam Complete!

Kyamwau 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.

"Access to clean and reliable water for me is a big plus," said 18-year-old Charity M. "I will be able to practice hygiene at home and make sure that everyone adheres to [the] measures given to us in the training. I will use the water for drinking and washing, as I am a girl and I love cleanliness, especially at my home."

Charity near the new sand dam.

"I [have] plans to make my home clean and, environment-wise, to have it covered with trees. Now, I will use water from this sand dam to water the trees and make sure they survive, hence achieving my goal."

"This project is very beneficial to me personally," said 57-year-old Sabina Mukulu. "I am going to enjoy the access to clean water, which is just meters from my home. I will no longer have to walk [a] long [way] or waste a lot of time in search of water. The time I used to spend searching for water will be driven to my shamba (garden) so that I can prepare the land on time and expect high yields."


"Instead of walking all the way to the market to get vegetables at a [higher] cost, I will grow my own vegetables," Sabina continued. "Thus I will be able to enjoy fresh food from my farm, and also this will keep me busy. I also anticipate that my health will be boosted because the food I will be consuming will not have chemicals. I hope in [the] future to sell the surplus after my family is well-fed."

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.

Excavation underway with community members hard at work.

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 53 meters long and three meters high and took 1,475 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 Kwa Kalekye 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.

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 a nearby church named Jesus Celebrations Church in Kaseve Village.

"The training was very good for us," said Penninah Musembi, 54. "We have been able to adopt this by washing our utensils well as well as drying them. We have also been able to install handwashing points near our latrines so as to make sure that one washes their hands each and every time they visit the latrine to avoid spreading diseases."


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 knowledge will help me to ensure that I don't contract diseases unnecessarily," concluded Penninah.

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!

January, 2022: Kyamwau Community B Sand Dam Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Kyamwau 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: Becoming economically independent through agriculture!

May, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kyamwau 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!

Judith Mutheu, 34, recalled what life was like in Kyamwau before her community’s hand-dug well attached to a sand dam was installed last year.

"Before the construction of this sand dam (with a dug well), we faced many challenges. It was difficult looking for water. We wasted a lot of time walking to springs which are very far from here. Our area is characterized [by] rocks and hills, which are hard to climb. We had to queue at the spring, hopefully waiting for a drop of water which may or may not come," said Judith.

But it is much more convenient for Judith and others to collect water in Kyamwau now.

"After constructing this sand dam (with a dug well), life has changed a lot. The water is now clean. In the past year, I have been able to practice farming, which is evident on my farm. I have managed to plant spinach, sukuma wiki (greens), bananas, and Napier grass for my cows," said Judith.

Having ready access to water from the well has made a difference for Judith, allowing her to focus on more productive activities like farming.

"Due to the availability of water, I am able to water my plants adequately with no rush. In the past year, I have planted numerous trees and also ventured into cash crop farming. Currently, my family does not buy food from the market. Rather, we produce it locally for household use,” concluded Judith.

Thank you for helping Judith access clean water and create more security for her and her family.

Right now, there are others just like her in neighboring communities that desperately need safe water access. Your support will immediately go to work to provide a clean water project - and we can’t wait to introduce you to the next person you’ll help.

Judith pumping water 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 Kyamwau 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 Kyamwau 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 - The Blake Belknap Family
Arrieta Family
10 individual donor(s)