Project Status

Project Type:  Sand Dam

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 370 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Project Features

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Community Profile

The 370 people of Tulanduli live far from a reliable water source, so water needed for their daily tasks comes from scoop holes dug in the sandy riverbed. But this water isn't easy to acquire.

"Most residents have to walk more than four kilometers to fetch water from the scoop hole. They carry water using their donkeys or [their] backs when one cannot afford a donkey. This ordeal takes about several hours daily, depending on how long the queues [are], [and the] amount of water and distance to a resident's house," said field officer Alex.

Because acquiring the water takes such a long time, the people of Tulanduli get less of it, disrupting their routines and leaving important things like work, household chores, and school by the wayside.

"Waking up every morning to fetch water is exhausting because I walk for several kilometers and have to travel back home while carrying water on my back," said Agnes Muli Muthami, a 45-year-old farmer.

Agnes continued: "I arrive at home after midday, leaving me with little time to perform household duties like cleaning. The insufficient water also means I rarely conduct personal hygiene, which is uncomfortable considering that I am a married woman with two children. Cultivating crops is also challenging because there is no water for irrigation, and I cannot carry water enough water to irrigate my crops."

Eight-year-old Joshua K., shown below, said, "Meals delay at home, and we sometimes have to take one meal per day because of the immense drought."

But delays to their daily schedules are not the only problem community members face, because the water they manage to collect must be used sparingly, negatively impacting their hygiene and sanitation and rendering people more vulnerable to illnesses.

“Safe and sufficient water facilitates the practice of hygiene, which is a key measure to prevent not only diarrheal diseases, but acute respiratory infections and numerous neglected tropical diseases.” -WHO

And sadly, the water they work so hard to collect is contaminated, so when people consume it, they suffer from water-related illnesses. Often people are desperate for medical attention but cannot afford it and must rely on traditional cures that sometimes do more harm instead.

"The water from the scoop holes is also contaminated, and I have had to seek medical aid from the local dispensary. Sometimes like last week, we opted for traditional herbs because my parents had no money for the medical bill," said Joshua, at a scoop hole below.

Community members need a reliable, clean water source closer to their homes so they can use their time and energy to strengthen their resources to build better lives.

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

September, 2023: Tulanduli Community Sand Dam Complete!

Tulanduli, 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 are also building 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 no longer have to walk long distances to fetch for my family during holidays or weekends. This will offer me time to play with friends or study. I am also glad that [we] will be drinking clean water from the shallow well, which was not possible in the past because we used to depend on water from contaminated scoop holes. This also prompted water-related infections like typhoid, and I often had to stay at home alone while my mother went to fetch water. I [am] grateful that will no longer be the case," said 11-year-old Jane M.


"Since I will be spending most of [my] time and energy on improving my grades, I will be able to excel and become an engineer when I grow up," concluded Jane.

Sand Dam Construction Process

The Tulanduli Sleeper Women's Self-Help Group members 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.

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 we reached a sufficient height, width, and length.

Finally, we dismantled the vertical timber beams and left the dam to cure. This dam measures 51 meters long and 3 meters high and took 1190 bags of cement to build.

The dam will build up sand and store water as soon as it rains. 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.

"During the soap-making training, the members sang different songs to motivate those who were stirring, and this made them to be patient until the final product was obtained," said trainer Christine Lucas.


"The training was very informative. Every topic was relevant to us. We have learned a lot about hygiene and sanitation. Personally, I did not know how to treat drinking water, but now I have the knowledge. We have also learned how we can prevent diseases by simply improving our hygienic behaviors. We are very grateful!" said 53-year-old farmer and chairperson of the water user committee Grace Mbuli.

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. Finally, we covered natural resource management and the operation and maintenance of the sand dam.

Using a tippy tap handwashing station.


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!

August, 2023: Tulanduli Community Sand Dam Underway!

The lack of adequate water in Tulanduli Community costs people time, energy, and health every single day. Clean water scarcity contributes to community instability and diminishes individuals’ personal progress.

But thanks to your recent generosity, things are improving here. A few weeks ago, work began to install a sand dam so this community has a reliable water point and can improve hygiene standards. We look forward to sharing the inspiring news that the project will be finished shortly!

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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42 individual donor(s)