Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 250 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 11/28/2023

Project Features

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Sometimes, the only accomplishment the 250 people in Kasioni can manage in a day is collecting water.

Those who live farthest away travel up to eight kilometers (4.97 miles) to reach the nearest dry riverbed, where they scoop up what little water they can find. The journey can last hours, draining all the community members' energy—multiple people we interviewed reported leaving for water at around 6 a.m. and not returning until 1 p.m. The toll this journey takes on the 278 people who live here is constant.

"When I was in primary school, I missed school a lot," said 18-year-old Kaluki M (shown collecting water above). "I used to wake up at 4 a.m. to go to fetch water. This would make me fail to attend school, hence my performance kept on deteriorating. Getting water near us will be good [for] us as we shall no longer have to walk for very long distances and miss school. My health will improve so much, as well as the life expectancy of locals."

And it's not only the community members' productivity that suffers. The lack of proper crop irrigation has crippled their ability to feed their families and produce any income. They can't keep themselves, their homes, or their clothes clean. The salty water from the scoop holes doesn't allow food to cook properly. And the community members share these scoop holes with wildlife and domestic animals, who often defecate in or around the water as they drink.

“Households with travel times greater than 30 minutes have been shown to collect progressively less water. Limited water availability may also reduce the amount of water that is used for hygiene in the household.” - (The Relationship between Distance to Water Source and Moderate-to-Severe Diarrhea in the Global Enterics Multi-Center Study in Kenya, 2008–2011) - American Journal of Tropical Science and Medicine

"[The] water challenges in our community make me feel less [like a] human being," said 58-year-old farmer Malia Musyoka (pictured below). "Myself, I have underlying health problems. Actually, I just reported back home some few months ago from the hospital. I am alone at my home now. The duties in my home are demanding, and the most demanding is getting water. The roads are very dusty, and because I have asthma, anytime I walk to the river, I must come back sick."

The water crisis in Kasioni leaves people tired, hungry, sick, and poor, with no way out. A water source nearer to them will change that.

What We Can Do:

Our main entry point into the community is the 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 the many 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 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

June, 2023: Kasioni Community Sand Dam Complete!

Kasioni 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.

Celebrating the sand dam.

"I will be able to drink clean water that does not expose me to infections like amoeba and dysentery, unlike the scoop holes that were contaminated. I will spend also spend more time studying or playing with friends because this water point is nearby and I do not have to embark on the exacting journey in search of water," said Abednego M., 10.

Abednego M.

"I am now confident that my grades will improve in school because I will be spending most of my time reading and doing my work now that this water point is nearby. I will also be drinking clean water which will ensure optimal health and comfort while learning. I will be conducting proper personal hygiene because we now have adequate water," he continued.

Sand Dam Construction Process

The members of the Itinda Self-Help Group collected all of the local materials, like rocks and sand, required to complete the dam. The collection of raw 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.

Collecting supplies.

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 37 meters long and 5 meters high and took 907 bags of cement to build.

The finished sand dam.

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.

The training was held at the New Apostolic Church. There were 30 total participants who attended the PHAST training which was led by Judith Kanini. The group's chairperson helped mobilize the community.

Training underway.

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.

Hand-washing training.

We also touched on health problems in the community, good and bad hygiene behaviors, the spread and prevention of disease, and sanitation improvements. And we covered natural resource management and the operations and maintenance of the sand dam.

One of the most memorable training topics was brought up by community members. The attendees had different concerns about expressing their health complaints or questions to a doctor or a health practitioner. The trainer, Judith, explained, "Show your doctor the exact location in or on which you are experiencing your symptoms. You want to be as specific as possible." She went on the explain how to discuss concerns with a healthcare professional.

Health training.

Other favorite topics were soap-making and the sanitation of latrines. The participants were shown how easy and important it is to make soap for handwashing and sanitation. Members enjoyed the session! They plan to develop soap-making skills to hopefully be able to sell the soap at the market and help with local school sanitation.

Latrine sanitation training.


This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our in-country teams, and the community members. 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 Kenya, Uganda, and Sierra Leone, we’re working toward complete coverage. That means 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, 2023: Kasioni Community Sand Dam Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Kasioni 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!


Project Sponsor - Lifeplus Foundation
PKS The Harvest