Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 1,600 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/12/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

Nduumoni's large population mostly depends on farming to survive. With water being so vital, it is understandable that those who live long distances from the two sand dam and shallow well systems previously installed by The Water Project in Nduumoni feel left behind.

Before the systems were installed in 2020 and 2021, the majority of community members suffered from water-related illnesses and struggled to hang on to hope for their futures. But since the water points were built, life has improved for most.

However, those community members who live on the outskirts of the village, too far from the current water sources, are still suffering. Forced to start their long journey to collect water by 6am each day, their time and energy are wasted, leaving them too exhausted to do anything else. Their only other option is to resort to searching for water in local scoop holes of sandy riverbeds, leaving them exposed to contamination and illness.

''Now the two sand dams available cater to some members who are near the projects," said 32-year-old farmer Virginia Kimanthi shown carrying water below.

"Before we started the first sand dam, our main aim and goal were to reach many community members and also reduce the distance taken to the river. Now, some members still walk long to the sand dams, hence we've had the urge to put up another sand [dam] hopefully to serve a bigger percentage of the community."

"The distance from my home to the existing sand dam is still a challenge to me. It is still hard for me to come back from school and rush for water in the dam," said 15-year-old Mbinya K (shown below).

"If I would get a dam existing near my home, that would be of very great help." If Mbinya could quickly collect water, she would have more time to do other things like study, help her family with chores, and spend time with her friends.

Mbinya and her fellow community members in Nduumoni need an additional sand dam and shallow well so everyone can efficiently fetch safe water that allows them the freedom to focus on the most important things and dream about the future.

What we can do:

Our main entry point into the community is the Wathana Self-Help Group, which comprises households working together to address water and food scarcity in their region. These members will be our hands and feet in 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 significantly hindered reaching their fullest potential.

We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with the Wathana Self-Help Group and other community members to teach essential 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 the water is flowing.

One of the most important topics we plan to cover is handling, storage, and water treatment. Having a clean water source will be extremely helpful, but it is useless if water gets contaminated when 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

January, 2023: Nduumoni Community Sand Dam Complete!

Nduumoni 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.

"Water from this point will shorten the long treks I had in the search for water. I hope to start venturing into farming to help boost my food and income security," said 45-year-old farmer Anna Klio.

"I originally had plans to plant trees, and currently, I have attained a maximum of 70 trees since we finished the project. Onwards, I trust I will be able to plant many trees that will help me in the future as well as beautify our environment."

"Now, I will have clean water for drinking, washing clothes, and cooking. I will no longer waste time fetching water. I really missed playing and visiting my relatives, which I will now achieve because the work is now easy," said nine-year-old Wambua K.

"[The new] trees make our environment welcoming. It is a source of income, too. Fruit trees do very well in our region. Therefore, I would love to establish my little fruit farm when I grow up. I adore what my father does and would proudly follow his steps to success."

Sand Dam Construction Process

The members of Wathanaa 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 46 meters long and five meters high and took 1,117 bags of cement to build.

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

As we’ve worked with this Self-Helf Group in the past, we conferred with them about the subjects they most needed refresher training on.

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 group's favorite topic was disease transmission, which was not only informative, but also provided an opportunity for healthy competition, as we split the group into two smaller units to identify five different disease transmission routes based on illustrations. When sharing their thoughts with the others, each group took the opportunity to critique the others' presentations.

"Through this training, I have learned how we get infections from eating dirt," said 74-year-old group chairperson Elijah Munyao. "I have also seen the need to have good sanitation infrastructures in our homes, especially latrines. Our knowledge has increased, and we are thankful. The soap training has enabled us to have an income-generating activity and have quality soap in our community."

Looking Ahead

The new water source will make everyday tasks so much easier. This group has already started to bring their dreams of agricultural greatness to fruition by starting a tree nursery. Once these trees mature, they can be planted. These will, in turn, encourage a healthier ecosystem with more frequent rainfall — a sign of hope and restoration for the people of Nduumoni.


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!

November, 2022: Nduumoni Community Sand Dam Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Nduumoni 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!


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