Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 800 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/06/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

Kithalani experiences long drought periods that force the area's residents to travel more than 5 miles to fetch water from the Tyaa River or dug scoop holes.

"Walking to this water point is exhausting since I have to carry the water manually," said Patrick M. (pictured below), who is 14 years old. "The hilly terrain and burning sun while walking to this water point also adds to the exhaustion."

Every day, the community members of Kithalani who live farthest from the water point wake up very early and leave their children for more than half a day as they trek out in search of water. Those who have enough money to purchase a donkey use it to carry water—otherwise, they lug full jerrycans back with them over the tedious distance. During this time, the older children pack themselves off to school while the younger ones wait for the parents to return and care for the livestock.

By the time the parents arrive back home, they are already exhausted. They have little energy to farm, cook, or clean. Without good farming, the families cannot earn an income or grow enough crops to feed themselves. They cannot pay for school fees or medication. The water from the scoop holes is contaminated, which has led to cases of typhoid, amoeba, dysentery, and cholera.

The proposed site for the well and sand dam is close to most of the community members' residences and easy to access. The community members have already started gathering materials for the construction of their water projects and are excited for bettering their lives.

What we can do:

Our main entry point into the community is the Lenza Mukuyuni 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 along with 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 Lenza Mukuyuni 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 help to ensure that participants have the knowledge they need to make the most out of their new water point as soon as 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 the time it is consumed. We will also emphasize the importance of handwashing.

We and the community 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 3 to 5 years on multiple water projects. We will conduct follow-up visits and refresher trainings 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, 2022: Kithalani Community Sand Dam Complete!

Kithalani Community, Kenya now has access to a new water source 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 over time. We also built 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.

Community members celebrate the completion of their sand dam, standing where water will one day flow.

"The availability of clean water from this water point will ensure I am no longer exposed to infections such as typhoid, dysentery, amoeba, and other stomach upsets," said 36-year-old farmer Musyimi Kavuthi.

"Although we already had a protected dug well, it was quite far from my place and I could at times settle for water from scoop holes. I will also be able to cultivate a kitchen garden and plant various trees because this water point offers enough water for most of us."

A community member uses water at his new farm.

"Unlike before, this water point is nearby," Musyimi continued. "Thus, I no longer walk long distances searching for water. I will use the extra time to focus on improving my crop yields. Building toilets or other infrastructure at home will also be easier because the water point provides enough water for such affairs. My children will also have clean water to drink and prepare meals. I will no longer have to send them to go fetch water from other distant sources of water.

"This water point will improve my food security because I can plant and irrigate vegetables and other crops for subsistence purposes. I will also be able to sell some of my farm produce to other community members and use the funds to pay school fees and achieve financial stability.

"Hygiene and sanitation will also improve since the water point provides sufficient water for personal and household use. The improved hygiene and sanitation will prevent [the] contraction of infections such as cholera, typhoid, amoeba, dysentery, and more, thus leading to optimum health. I will also have enough water to make soap and kerol (detergent) that I will use at home and sell to other community members."

Sand Dam Construction Process

The members of Lenza Mukuyuni Self-Help Group 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.

Community members unearth rocks for use in construction of the sand dam.

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 the plans were 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 compact 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. We then used barbed wire and rebar to reinforce the mixture.

Once the foundation was complete, we built a timber skeleton to hold the sludge and rocks above ground level. Once our first layer dried, we 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 39 meters long and three meters high and took 690 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 in this region, sometimes it only rains once a year!

New Knowledge

Our trainer conferred with the field staff about previous household visits and interviews with community members to determine which topics the community could improve upon.

Training exercise.

We decided to do a refresher training on health problems in the community, good and bad hygiene behaviors, the spread and prevention of disease, and sanitation improvements.

Using a tippy tap.

We also covered various skills, including bookkeeping, financial management, project management, group dynamics, and governance.


We included techniques like soapmaking and handwashing.

Farmer William Musyoka, who is the Chairman of the Water User Committee, said, "Honestly, we had relaxed in some practices like water treatment and handwashing; very critical practices that spread diseases at a very high rate, but now after that refresher, we have chosen to go start practicing."


He continued, "We are going to share the knowledge and skills with our neighbors and friends so as to make the change uniform in our area. I’m also sure that the new members will benefit so much from this training and utilize it in their homes."


This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our partners, and the community members themselves. When an issue arises concerning the well, 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.

Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program. We have an ongoing commitment to walk with each community, cooperatively problem-solving when they face challenges of any kind: with functionality, seasonality, or water quality issues. With all these components together, we strive to ensure enduring access to reliable, clean, and safe water for this community.

With your contribution, one more piece has been added to a large puzzle of water projects. In our target areas, we’re working toward complete coverage of reliable, maintained water sources within a 30-minute round trip for each community, household, school, and health center. With this in mind, search through our upcoming projects to see which community you can help next!

Thank you for making all of this possible!

June, 2022: Kithalani Community Sand Dam Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Kithalani 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: Time for Improvements and Strengthening Relationships!

August, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kithalani 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!

Beatrice, a 48-year-old farmer, recalled what life was like in Kithalani before her community’s sand dam was implemented last year.

"Before the construction of this sand dam project, I used to walk for about 3 hours to fetch water for use from Tyaa River’s scoop holes. The river would dry very fast as it is a seasonal river. Hence we had to dig very deep scoop holes to access water for basic household uses. A lot of time would be wasted in search of water for use, time that could be expended on other productive or developmental activities. Life was generally difficult," said Beatrice.

But life is much more efficient and productive for Beatrice and the other community members in Kithalani now.

"We feel so happy about this water point because it has improved our livelihoods. It takes me not more than a half hour to draw water and get back home. We use the water to irrigate our kales, tomatoes, and cabbages at home. I can now manage to complete my household chores on time, and with that I can engage in hobbies and important activities such as farming and catching up with friends," Beatrice said.

Having ready access to water from the sand dam has made a difference for Beatrice, allowing her the satisfaction of completing her daily tasks and even time to renew her relationships.

"Through this water point, we have managed to water the tree nurseries we have at home for income generation. I plan to establish a bigger vegetable garden where I will plant kales, spinach and onions for boosting my family’s diet and acquiring more income," concluded Beatrice.

Thank you for helping Beatrice access clean water and have the energy to work towards and plan for a brighter future.

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.

Beatrice pumps water collected by 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 Kithalani 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 Kithalani 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.


North Dunedin Baptist Church
United Way of the Capital Region
Central Baptist Church's Water Project

And 1 other fundraising page(s)
31 individual donor(s)