Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 1,000 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jul 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/17/2024

Project Features

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A thousand people depend on Mukikanda Community's two open, hand-dug wells. Some people wake up as early as 4 a.m. to get to the water point before queues form...or before the water dries out for the day.

"The water point is far away," explained 43-year-old farmer, Agnes Mutheki (pictured below at one of the wells). "I have to wake up at 4 a.m. and walk about 4 kilometers (2.38 miles) to acquire water for my family."

"When the dug wells are dry, I have to walk several kilometers to purchase water from a vendor," Agnes continued. "This is quite expensive, especially since I do not have crops to sell, thanks to the water scarcity."

The low quantity of water has led to quarrels between community members: everyone wants to finish up and concentrate on other affairs. And it's easy to understand why. The long distances some people have to travel and endless lines at each water point mean that many of the water-fetchers don't return home from fetching water until the afternoon. By then, they lack the energy to cook, clean, farm, or even, in the childrens' case, study.

"I have to go the water points and bring water to school, which affects my academic performance," said 14-year-old Dickson K (pictured above).

For Dickson, fetching water for his family is more than just tedious and inconvenient. "The dug wells are dangerous," he explained. "One can fall inside the pit."

"The contaminated water from these water points have also led to issues such as stomachache," Dickson continued, "Which makes me uncomfortable while learning in class."

That's another problem: after going through so much trouble to procure the water, it makes the community members sick. The dug wells are open to contamination from both the community members and their livestock. This exposes the residents to infections such as typhoid, amoeba, dysentery, diarrhea, and more.

"The water is contaminated, but I do not have any other option besides drinking it and using it for cooking," Agnes explained. "It is also difficult for me to uphold proper hygiene and sanitation because I have to use the available water sparingly."

This lack of cleanliness means Mukikanda's people are even more likely to become sick. Most of the community members are unable to clean their homes and latrines or conduct regular dental care or body care (such as bathing and brushing teeth) because they can't spare the water.

It's not only families who depend on these two wells. Five schools and seven churches send their students and worshippers to fetch water for their facilities' needs, which means the extended community would benefit from a centralized source of safe, reliable water. The proposed location for the sand dam and shallow well projects is the middle point of four villages (Katemwa, Mui, Ndathani, and Kibaki) who desperately need a solution to their water scarcity crisis.

What we can do:

Our main entry point into the community is the Mukikanda 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 Mukikanda 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

July, 2022: Mukikanda Community Sand Dam Complete!

Mukikanda, 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.

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 in this region! As the sand dam matures and stores more sand, the surrounding landscape will become lush and fertile, and the well will fill with water.

"I will no longer have to walk for about two hours to [the] Mui river to fetch water," said 14-year-old Roffee M.

Roffee leans against the sand dam.

"I can use the extra time and energy to help my parents on the farm and concentrate on my academic performance. I will also be drinking clean water easily from the protected shallow well, unlike the previous scoop holes that were open to contamination by animals and human beings and exposed me to infections."

"I will also be able to improve my personal hygiene and sanitation using water from this water point because it is nearby and has enough water. This waterpoint will help me improve my academic studies because I have enough time and energy to revise what I have been taught in school."

"This water point will solve the rampant water scarcity in the area," said 45-year-old Agnes Mutheki.

Agnes stands in front of the completed sand dam.

"The sand dam will now hold water that can sustain us during the long drought periods. I will no longer be walking long distances looking for water because this new water point is close to my home. I will also be able to grow vegetables and other crops that I will irrigate using water from this water point and improve my personal and household hygiene and sanitation because there is sufficient water.

"I will be able to provide food for my family and also sell the extra produce to some of the community members; this will earn me an income. I will be able to grow more trees, including fruit trees, that supplement the daily diet of various community members."

Sand Dam Construction Process

The members of Mukikanda 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.

Materials gathered.

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.

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. 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 29 meters long and three meters high and took 750 bags of cement to build.

Ready for rain.

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. We held the training at a centrally located homestead that the community often uses for meetings.

We decided to train on health problems in the community, good and bad hygiene behaviors, the spread and prevention of disease, and sanitation improvements. We also covered various skills, including bookkeeping, financial management, project management, group dynamics, and governance. We included techniques like soapmaking and handwashing.

One of the most memorable topics was community mapping, during which community members drew representations of their homes on a map. A few of the homes didn't have any latrines or sanitation facilities. When the training facilitator jokingly asked these homeowners where their in-laws can relieve themselves when they come to visit, they replied that their in-laws would have to wait until they constructed latrines.

"The training will bring so much change amongst members and the community at large," said 52-year-old farmer Kasyoka Mwangangi. She was elected to be the water user committee chairperson during the training meeting.

Community members make detergent during the training.

"It will help us improve hygiene in different sectors," she continued. "For instance, the frequency of cleaning our compounds, washing our hands after visiting latrines, water treatment, covering food and use of latrines, among other practices. Sleeping under treated mosquito nets will also be a daily practice. Soap and detergent making have proved to us that we can end poverty. We will use the skills to make money both at [the] individual and group level. Generally, poverty and diseases will go down."


This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our in-country teams, and the community members themselves. 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 their local field officers to assist them.

Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our monitoring and maintenance program. We walk with each community, problem-solving together when they face challenges with functionality, seasonality, or water quality. Together, all these components help us strive for 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!

May, 2022: Mukikanda Community 1A Sand Dam Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Mukikanda 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: Increased income and food security!

August, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mukikanda 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!

Chairperson of the water committee and farmer Kasyoka, 52, recalled what life was like in Mukikanda before her community’s sand dam that has an attached dug-well was installed last year.

"Before the construction of this sand dam project, I used to walk for about 3 kilometers (nearly 2 miles) to Mwei River in order to fetch water for use. Mwei River is also seasonal with an inadequate supply of water; thus, conducting personal hygiene and sanitation was an occasional affair. I had to borrow water for cooking or drinking from other community members when I was not able to go fetch water. The water was also contaminated because it was drawn from unprotected dug wells and me and my family members would often complain of stomachaches or water-related infections. It was also salty and not suitable," said Kasyoka.

But life is much simpler for Kasyoka and the other community members in Mukikanda now.

“I am now able to get water for cooking and drinking within a short time because the shallow well is close to my home. I also get more time and energy to focus on activities like tree planting, cultivating kitchen gardens and crop cultivation. This waterpoint enables crop irrigation and offers enough water for hygiene and sanitation (both personal and general). For instance, washing our hands," Kasyoka continued.

Having ready access to water from the sand dam has made a difference for Kasyoka, allowing her the time and energy to pour into improving her daily living situation.

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

Thank you for helping Kasyoka access clean water, create more income, and obtain food security for 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.


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 Mukikanda 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 Mukikanda 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.


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