Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 200 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/16/2024

Project Features

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This region experiences harsh, prolonged dry seasons, so community members in Kaghui have to walk up to 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) to access water, some walking up to an hour each way and making two trips a day.

They only have two water options, and neither is easy, but water is necessary to survive and a difficult commodity to obtain.

They can use a hand-dug well that requires them to haul water up by bucket. This source is open to contamination and often overcrowded, wasting valuable time that could be used doing other daily tasks.

Or they can collect salty water from the river, which also means digging scoop holes during the dry season to reach below the ground's surface for water.

Either choice leaves them exhausted while carrying heavy containers for the long return journey home.

Young children like Musyoki M., an 8-year-old boy, find the task of collecting water incredibly arduous. "The water extracted from the scoop holes is contaminated and leads to infections and stomachaches, typhoid, amoeba, or dysentery. Whenever I get ill, I have to forego learning, which affects my academic performance. I also have to carry water from the river to school every day, which leaves me exhausted and unable to focus on my studies appropriately."

Even adults struggle to collect enough water to meet their daily needs for drinking, cooking, and hygiene tasks as shared by Muyathi Mwanza (pictured above), a 57-year-old farmer. "There is not enough water for hygiene and sanitation. Therefore, my house and latrine are cleaned once in a while. I am also highly exposed to infections such as COVID-19 because I have to use water sparingly, which leaves negligible amounts of water for handwashing."

With reliable water provided by this new sand dam, which will be centrally located in their community, the people of Kaghui will have more time and energy to commit to their daily life and development projects that have been impossible before now, and waterborne illnesses will not be a constant drain on their health and finances.

What we can do:

Our main entry point into the community is the Utethyo wa Kaghui 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 Utethyo wa Kaghui 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

January, 2023: Kaghui Community Sand Dam Complete!

Kaghui, 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.

"In the past, I would have to walk for about two kilometers to draw water from the community's dug well. The well often had little amounts of water due to adverse drought and the large population that depended on it. The recently implemented water point well is about ten minutes from my home and provides sufficient clean water. I will also have enough water and time for irrigation and performing cleaning chores," said 30-year-old Purity Mbite.

Purity standing in front of the well.

Sand Dam Construction Process

The members of Utethyo wa Kaghui 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.

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 64 meters long and two meters high and took 1,090 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 their previous household visits and interviews with community members to determine which topics the community could improve upon.

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 soap- and detergent-making and improve behaviors such as handwashing.

We also touched on health problems in the community, good and bad hygiene behaviors, the spread and prevention of disease, and sanitation improvements.

"The training has helped us learn the causes of different diseases that we have been suffering in our community. We have also learned that such diseases can be prevented by improving our hygiene and sanitation. We have also learned how to make liquid soap. The soap is of very good quality and easy to make. We will generate an income through the soap-making project," said 47-year-old farmer and chairperson of the water user committee Munywoki Maure.

Munywoki Maure.


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: Kaghui Community Sand Dam Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Kaghui 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: Improved Hygiene and Health!

April, 2024

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kaghui 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!

Forty-nine-year-old farmer Simon Munyoki recalled what life was like in the Kaghui Community before his community's sand dam was implemented last year.

"Getting water in the past was very frustrating because it was more than one kilometer away, and we only had to depend [on] saline water drawn from the unprotected well. This would lead to long queues, and alternative sources like scoop holes would quickly dry up because of the immense drought. My children had to bear with the poor hygiene conditions at home because the little available water had to be used sparingly. They also [had to] survive on one meal per day because my wife would spend most of the day fetching water. The available water was also unclean and exposed us to water-related infections like typhoid, diarrhea, and amoeba," said Simon.

Collecting water is now much better for Simon and the other community members in Kaghui.

"Water is now close to my home and only takes a few minutes to fetch," shared Simon.

"Our health has improved because we are now drinking clean water available from this water point. We are also taking more than a meal per day because there is enough water for cooking and my wife is able to cook because she is not spending most of her time fetching water. I am very glad that my family and I are healthy and no longer exposed to exhaustion from long walks or infections like typhoid and amoeba. I am also able to conduct personal hygiene because we have enough water," continued Simon.

Having ready access to water from the sand dam has made a difference for Simon, allowing him to focus on improving his family's future.

"I do not spend much time looking for water since this water point is close to my area. This has also offered more time to focus on preparing land, planting, and irrigating trees. I am planning to cultivate more crops and vegetables because I now have water to irrigate them. I will be selling the produce [to] earn an income. We will also be selling water from this water point to other community members at a reasonable fee," Simon said.

Clean water flowing.

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 Kaghui 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 Kaghui 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.


Project Sponsor - Barbara Belle Ash Dougan Foundation