Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 250 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/10/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

Community Profile

Wendano Makiioni's 250 community members struggle to find sufficient water to drink and perform their daily tasks. The water they can collect comes from faraway water points and requires a lot of physical effort, leaving them exhausted and short on time.

"The community depends on scoop holes (one shown in the photo below) and two protected shallow wells as their sources of drinking water. However, the scoop holes quickly dry up due to long drought periods and erratic rainfall," reported our field officer, Alex.

"Residents who live far away have to walk several kilometers to get water from the current water points while carrying 20-liter jerrycans on their backs or donkeys. This is a time-consuming and tedious task under the scorching sun that leaves less energy and effort to conduct activities such as farming or studies for students," continued Alex.

Not only do people have to walk up to an hour to access water, but the water they collect from scoop holes is contaminated, leaving people suffering from frequent water-related infections like typhoid, amoeba, dysentery, and stomach upsets.

"The scoop holes expose me and my family to infections, such as typhoid, stomach upsets, and more, because they are contaminated by livestock [excrement] and dust. My son, Nzangi, developed stomach issues recently, and the other children often complain of similar symptoms as well," shared Benjamin Muthui, a 65-year-old farmer shown above collecting water at the distant well.

"I have to help my family fetch water during weekends or holidays. Sometimes there is no water at home; thus, I have to forego classes and remain at home, like today," said 11-year-old Emmaculate, shown below carrying water home. "I also get tired from the long walks to the distant shallow well or scoop holes and cannot get time to play with friends or study."

"Students do not have enough water to drink at school, and their energy and time are consumed by fetching water. This has led to dismal academic performances and several students dropping out, limiting students in accessing better career opportunities or livelihoods," Alex said.

A new dug well in this community will change the everyday struggle of people to find sufficient water and hopefully give them back their time and energy for other valuable endeavors like working and schoolwork.

What we can do:

Our main entry point into the community is the Wendano Makiioni 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 Wendano Makiioni 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: Makiioni Community Sand Dam Complete!

Makiioni, 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.

"I will easily draw water from this water point because it is well protected," said seven-year-old Dorcas M. "I often accompanied my mother to the previous water sources, which was exhausting. This will no longer be the case because this water point is close to my home. I will also have enough clean water to drink."

"Walking to [the] Tyaa River to fetch water was exhausting and time-consuming, and my mother could not prepare meals on time," Dorcas continued. "We could also skip meals because of the insufficient water, but now we will have enough water to cook and drink. I will also get more time to play with my friends after school."

"I will no longer have to walk to the distant Tyaa River's scoop holes or previous shallow wells searching for water, because this water point is very close to my home," said 50-year-old farmer Fatuma Mzili. "I will have enough time and energy to concentrate on farming because this water point will offer sufficient water for irrigation. My family and I will be healthy because we will no longer be exposed to diseases like typhoid or amoeba that are associated [with] the consumption of water from the scoop holes."

"My cows and goats will have a nearby source of drinking water," Fatuma continued. "This will improve their milk and meat yield because they are not exhausted. I will also grow pasture [plants] on my land because I can easily irrigate it. I will also be able to cultivate various crops like bananas, kale, spinach, [and] onions, as well as cabbages, which will supplement our daily diet."

Sand Dam Construction Process

The members of Wendo Makiioni Women's 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 27 meters long and three meters high and took 700 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.

Everyone's favorite topic to learn was soap-making.

"The members were very happy to learn the process of soap making and promised to generate income from the project," said our hygiene officer, Christine. "During the stirring of the soap, the members sang choruses to motivate those who were stirring, and this increased their patience during the soap-making process."

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

Kavata at the training.

"The training was very good," said farmer Kavata Mutemi. "I have learned a lot about hygiene and sanitation. I have also learned how to prevent diarrheal diseases. The soap-making training has enabled this group to have an income-generating activity. The training has also united the group more, and we are thankful."


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!

December, 2022: Makioni Community Sand Dam Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Makioni 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: Accessible Water Allows Time to Study and Rest!

April, 2024

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Makioni 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!

Tabitha, 13, recalled what life was like in the Makioni Community before her community's sand dam was installed last year.

"Fetching water was a difficult and tiresome ordeal because I had to spend most of [my] time fetching water. For instance, during holidays, weekends, after classes, or any time that I was not in school. The water point was also very far from my home, and I could return home feeling exhausted and unable to focus on my studies. Water at home would also run out, leaving us with no water to drink," shared Tabitha.

"Fetching water was a daily affair, and my parents would send me to fetch water whenever I was home. When the current sources dried up, I had to go to Kamuwongo Market Center to fetch water at a fee. Kamuwongo is several kilometers away, and I would return home feeling very tired. The water was also not enough for washing my clothes or even conducting personal hygiene," continued Tabitha.

Collecting water is now simpler and less time-consuming for Tabitha and the other community members in Makioni.

"I am now able to get enough water to perform my personal hygiene, and I now attend my classes with [a] clean uniform. I am no longer drinking water from scoop holes, which caused stomach aches and diarrhea. The clean water from this water point is enough to quench my thirst and does not expose me to infections. I am able to quench my thirst any time during the day because this water point is very close to my home. I am not worried about the safety of the water because this water is clean, and I have not contracted any infections, unlike before it was constructed," said Tabitha.

Having ready access to water from the sand dam has made a difference for Tabitha, allowing her to collect water quickly that she can trust to not make her ill, so she has time and energy for learning and being a young girl.


"My grades have improved because I no longer spend most of [my] time fetching water. I am able to do my homework every day. I hope to study hard and get better grades so that I can get a good job in [the] future," Tabitha said.

"The community has been able to plant trees and are irrigating their trees using water from this water point. The residents also spend little time fetching water, and most of the homesteads have been kept clean because they have enough time and energy," Tabitha concluded.

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 Makioni 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 Makioni 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.


TGB Caring with Crypto