Vinya Wa Kyangwasi Community

Water Point
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Sand Dams in Kenya

Latitude -1.88
Longitude 37.82

500 Served

Project Status:

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Stories and Community Profile

This project is being implemented by our partner African Sand Dam Foundation, and includes the construction of a sand dam as well as agriculural activities including terracing, tree planting and  the creation of a tree nursery and seed bank.

Below is unedited project information direct from our partner:



The group was formed in the year 2009. The group was formed after 42 households came together to start the group. The group is located in Ivinganzia sub location, Kanthuni location, Kanthuni division and Kathonzweni District.

The main reasons for forming the group were:

  • The group wanted to improve the environment through soil conservation. By coming together the group wanted to dig terraces that would conserve soil on their farms and dig tree holes that they would plant trees in the farms to prevent soil erosion.
  • The area had severe water shortage. Through coming together the group wished to have shallow wells along their main river channel.

• The group wished to have welfare activities that would seek to improve their living standards. By coming together the group would have merry go round activities that would provide the group with income to cater for their basic needs. The area suffers from acute poverty.

Challenges that are faced in the area

Water shortage

The main challenge that the community in the area faces is water shortage. It takes five hours (5) per day for women to fetch water. The main sources of water are Rivers Athi and Kyangwasi. The distance to river Athi is about 10 kilometres. This is the main water source during the dry seasons of July to November. River Kwa ngwasi only has water during the rainy seasons. The river has continued to be eroded away and this has made the time that water is available in the river channel to reduce from 6 months to less than two months. Most of the community members have resulted to fetch water from River Athi which is 10 kilometres away. The quality of water is poor since the river is heavily polluted. This has led to high incidences of water related and water borne diseases in the area.

River Athi is also a dangerous point for fetching water. It is highly infested with crocodiles. A number of our livestock and children have lost their lives as they fetch water from this water point.

Due to the lack of water availability in the area the community suffers other challenges. These are:

  • The community has continued to lose their livestock. During the dry periods they have to walk long distances in order to get water. Livestock are the main economic assets for the community. This is because of the continued drought and unreliability of the rainfall patterns. This has made many members of the community to shift from farming to livestock keeping. The loss of livestock therefore translates to increased poverty in the area.
  • Increased environmental degradation. The community has tried on many occasions to have trees planted in their homesteads. Due to lack of water most of the trees planted have continued to dry up.
  • Poor farming methods. Much of the time is spent in fetching water. The situation is extremely adverse during the dry season. This has led to the neglect of the farms and other areas of the community lives. By the time one gets from fetching water they are tired and cannot engage in farming or in any productive role.
  • Women have continued to lag behind in development matters since the burden of fetching water remains on them. Most women spent time in fetching water for use in their homes. Due to the distance and time required for this activity most women have no time to take part in other basic activities.


The main type of crops that the community farms include maize, cowpeas, green grams, sorghum and pigeon peas.

The area depends on rain fed agriculture. In the last four years the area has not received sufficient rains and this has led to intense famine and severe food insecurity. Apart from rain shortage the other reasons that have led to food insecurity are:

  • Poor fertile soils. The area has degraded soils due to erosion. Due to severe soil erosion the crops have not had good harvest.
  • The community has continued to practise crude planting methods that have led to decreased harvest. The reliance on maize as a staple crop and also as a cash crop has led to decreased harvest due to unreliable rains. The community also lacks knowledge on improved farming methods that can be practised in the area.
  • Environmental degradation. Soil erosion and the lack of trees have continued to be a main challenge in the area. Soil erosion has led to poor soil fertility whereas due to overstocking of the livestock they have also destroyed the vegetation cover.
  • Increased drought and famine. During the drought period most of the incomes area reduced. Currently the area is coming out of a severe drought period. Due to this most farmers do not have seeds to plant in their farms. The farmers have to get seeds from unscrupulous dealers and the seeds that they plant cannot do well in the area.
  • Lack of tools. The group is currently digging terraces in the area so as to conserve soil from being eroded from their farms. Due to poverty most of the members cannot afford tools that can dig well the terraces on their farms.
  •  Pre harvest and post harvest losses: The crops are destroyed by pests before harvest. The group does not have enough knowledge on how to control and prevent pests from destroying the crops. After the crops are harvested they also lack post harvest preservation skills. The harvest is therefore destroyed by pests. To prevent further losses from pests most farmers dispose off their produce at low prices thus returning to the viscous cycle of food insecurity and poverty.


The group has a tree nursery. But the tree nursery has been established at river Kyangwasi . The group has to manage the tree nursery from this distance since it’s the only reliable water source that the group has and this has made tree planting in the area expensive.



Other challenges faced in area

  • Lack of trees in the area forces the community to buy the trees at high prices. The current price for a fruit tree is KES 40 and this has discouraged farmers from planting trees.
  • The lack of enough knowledge and information on tree management. Most farmers lack the skills on how to establish the tree nurseries and even care for the trees after they have planted them. This has reduced the survival rate of the trees in the area.
  • The lack of access to water for irrigating the trees planted. Due to water insecurity and unreliability in the rainfall patterns in the area the tree survival rate is still low. Most trees dry up due to lack of water for irrigating the trees.
  • Termite infestation. The area has high incidence of termite that destroy the trees. The community lack the ability to control termite from destroying their crops.
  • The area has severe shortage in indigenous tree seedlings that can be used and planted in the area. Most of the tree seedlings that the community plants are not able to be planted in the area and cannot withstand the drought in the area.

Despite the challenges that the community faces they are hopeful that through the construction of sand dams they will be able to create water security in the area. This will be the door way to reducing poverty in the area. The group has dug two shallow wells that need to be installed with water pumps for them to be functional. The sand dams will improve the water table of the river channel thus creating a year round supply of water for the community.

So far the group has a demonstration plot whereby they are learning on their own on how to plant the drought resistant crops. From the demonstration plot the group has also been able to plant green grams and sorghum that they have sold and have generated income from such an activity. The group has also stored some seeds generated from the demonstration plot that they divide amongst themselves to plant in their farms but due to prolonged drought the seeds supply have been reducing. Also the increased prevalence of pesticides has destroyed high amounts of the stored seeds.


With the availability of water the community plans:

  •  To increase their income levels. Through the planting of vegetables along the river banks the community and farmers will be able to plant horticultural cops that they will sell and be able to get income.
  • The farmers will also increase the number of trees that they plant. Water availability will boost the planting of different species of trees that can be used for food and income production.
  • The group also plans to improve on animal husbandry. The group will start a dairy goat project that will be used to improve the local breeds and also generate income for the farmers. Reducing the number of cattle that are kept by farmers will promote environmental conservation.
  • The group also seeks to create seed security through the establishment of a seed bank. This will enable the farmers to have access to quality and certified seeds types that can be able to withstand drought and harsh weather patterns in the area.
  • The area also lags behind in terms of education. Due to prolonged drought in the area there has been a high rate of school dropout especially during the August and September seasons as children have to avoid going to school and assist in the fetching of water from distant places. The group is focussed at increasing water availability in the schools through roof harvesting by constructing several water tanks in the nearby school. This will increase the school attendance rates and also improve health and sanitation standards within the schools.


Project Photos

Recent Project Updates

11/16/2012: Shallow well at Vinya wa Kyangwasi construction update

The community are making good progress on the shallow well, as these photos certainly show. We’re expecting completion on this very soon. 

The Water Project : vinya-wa-kyangwasi-shg_shallow-well_october-2012-1-2 The Water Project : vinya-wa-kyangwasi-shg_shallow-well_october-2012-2-2 The Water Project : vinya-wa-kyangwasi-shg_shallow-well_october-2012-3-2 The Water Project : vinya-wa-kyangwasi-shg_shallow-well_october-2012-4-2

10/09/2012: Shallow well construction - progress update

Progress is still ongoing on the shallow well construction. It seems the community have hit a hard rock, but they are continuing to hand dig through it, albeit slowly. Here’s an update on progress from ASDF:

Though their dream of having a sand dam has been actualized they have working tirelessly to finish their shallow well in time before the rains. They have since encountered a very hard stone which has taken them quite some time before.

We’ll bring you more updates on their progress just as soon as we can. 

07/05/2012: Sand dam complete at Vinya wa Kyangwasi

ASDF and the community have completed the sand dam construction phase, which is great news! Another step along the way towards sustainable access to clean water! 

The Water Project : vinya-wa-kyangwasi-shg-sd-12018-dls-ac-6-3 The Water Project : vinya-wa-kyangwasi-shg-sd-12018-dls-ac-36-3 The Water Project : vinya-wa-kyangwasi-shg-sd-12018-dls-ac-june-2012-1-3 The Water Project : vinya-wa-kyangwasi-shg-sd-12018-dls-ac-june-2012-21-3

06/12/2012: Sand dam construction update

We’ve been in close contact with African Sand Dam Foundation, and the sand dam is close to completion. This from them: 

Vinya wa Kyangwasi Self Help Group

Work on this site is on the schedule and should complete by mid June.

Their sand dam is not yet complete but members are busy working hard daily to beat the deadline. This according to them is not a farfetched dream as only one wing of the dam is all that is remaining. They are optimistic that by the above date all the pending work will be complete. 

So, great news. We’ll post more here as soon as we have further details. 

The Water Project : vinya-wa-kyangwasi-sd-1-2 The Water Project : vinya-wa-kyangwasi-sd-4-2

05/08/2012: Vinya Wa Kyangwasi project underway

We had a great meeting with our partner African Sand Dam Foundation today, and they have confirmed that this project is now underway. The materials have been gathered for the construction of the dam, and work is due to begin on site in the coming days. Great news!  

The Water Project : vinya-wa-kyangwasi-12018dls-6-2

Monitoring Data

Project Type:  Sand Dam
Location:  Central Kenya
ProjectID: 4020
Install Date:  07/11/2012

Monitoring Data
Water Point:
Last Visit: 12/21/2017

Visit History:
05/28/2015 — Needs Attention
02/01/2016 — Needs Attention
04/07/2016 — Functional
08/29/2016 — Functional
12/09/2016 — Functional
06/04/2017 — Functional
09/06/2017 — Functional
12/21/2017 — Functional


67 individual donors
P.S. 186-The Castlewood School
St Cecilia's Gods Club
The Cupcake Crew
Manhattan Vineyard Church Youth
Fidelity Charitable Fund
Collected by grade seven students at Ecole Lac des Bois in Prince George in British Columbia, Canada
The Leon Nevada Trust
Haverhill H.S. - Interact Club
Elysian Charter School
Girl Scout Troop #1130
SpR Management Course Warwick UK Cohort 49
West Palm Beach Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc (Selma Alumnae Chapter)
Karen Black-Caleb's Fundraiser
Boulder High School
In Honor of Cecile B. Low

...and 1 other fundraising pages

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Country Details


Population: 39.8 Million
Lacking clean water: 43%
Below poverty line: 50%

Partner Profile

Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF) supports self-help groups to harvest and conserve water through construction of sand dams & shallow wells, rock catchments and school roof catchments.