Project information

Drought-Proof a community - Kakai Sand Dam

A sand dam project will provide clean water and increased agricultural opportunities to a community in Africa. Sand dams are the world's lowest-cost way to harvest rainwater, and last a lifetime with minimal maintenance as they involve no machinery. Sand dams store millions of litres of clean water.

February 2012 - February 2016

Charity information: Excellent Development

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  • Need


    The people we will support live in rural dryland areas. They spend many hours every day collecting water. Sometimes the water is contaminated and makes them sick. Their livelihood is agriculture, but they lack both sufficient water and time to grow food, due to the difficulties in water collection. Their land is often degraded and they have difficulty sourcing good quality seeds. Many crops fail due to lack of water. Lack of water keeps people in a vicious cycle of poverty and dependence.


    A sand dam built by the community will capture rainwater and filter it clean so it is potable. A sand dam can store enough water to last several seasons, so the community will be protected against drought. They will save hours every day in water collection. The nearby water supply and the time saved will enable them to grow food. Excellent will also support them to terrace their land and plant trees, both of which help to conserve soil and water, and instruct them on improved farming techniques

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Support the community to build a sand dam. This will capture rainwater, filter it clean and store it


    » Provide technical support in siting and constructing the dam (labour-wise, community builds the dam themselves)
    » Supply and deliver some materials such as concrete and steel, plus use of tools (community must collect stones and sand for the dam)
    » Help community to decide which method of water abstraction they want, and support them to establish it, provide materials such as piping as necessary

    What success will look like

    Success will be a completed dam, built by the community, that traps sand behind it and stores water for the community. The community saves hours every day so they can grow food.

    Aim 2

    Support the community to terrace their land. This helps to conserve soil and water


    » Provide technical support and loan of tools. The community will carry out the work.
    » Work with the community to establish target number of kilometres of terracing to reach
    » Instruction on terracing techniques in order to achieve the correct depth and width of terraces to maximise their effectiveness and durability

    What success will look like

    Success will be the community understands the benefits of terracing and works together to reach their target amount of terraces. Soil and water are conserved and more food is grown

    Aim 3

    Support community to plant trees to conserve soil and water, provides timber, food, fodder & shade


    » Provide technical support and use of tools to establish a tree nursery
    » Provide technical support for digging holes in which to plant trees.
    » Work with community to establish target number of tree holes

    What success will look like

    Success will be the community understands the benefits of tree planting and works together to establish a tree nursery, dig tree holes and plant trees

    Aim 4

    Instruct community on improved farming techniques to maximise their opportunities


    » Provide instruction on drought-resistant crops, intercropping, zero grazing animals, and using terraces

    What success will look like

    Success will be the community understands the benefits of techniques taught and implements them in their farms. An increase in food production and income from selling food

    Aim 5

    Support the community to establish a seed bank


    » Provide technical support and high quality seeds for community to use. Managed to ensure farmers return seeds to the bank after harvest

    What success will look like

    Success will be the community understands which crops are drought-resistant and work together to establish & manage a seed bank. Seeds are used and replaced by community members

  • Impact


    The sand dam will provide the community with clean water for around 50 years with little maintenance. It can store millions of litres of water for several seasons, therefore the community will not lack water during drought and their ability to produce food is protected. The local environment improves due to the sand dam raising the water table. We will demonstrate success by reporting on the targets achieved as per the aims above, and photographic evidence of achievements


    The sand dam stores water from seasonal rains. Therefore, the benefits will not come into effect until one or two rainy seasons have passed. If the rains fail, the community will have to wait until the next rains to reap the benefits. We will support people to prepare their land for agriculture (most importantly through terracing) and undertake conservation activities while waiting for the next rains.


    One report on completion of sand dam. Updates if required on any important changes to the project plan or schedule. Quarterly reports on progress towards targets.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £12,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £4,245 Sand dam Build a sand dam
      £1,533 Farming techniques Trees, terracing, farming techniques, seeds
      £2,022 Support UK support costs
      £2,400 Support Programme Development & Governance
      £1,800 Support Fundraising & Communications

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Corporate supporter £1,980 Conditional
    Individual supporter £250 Conditional
    Trustee £750 Conditional
    Individual supporter £20 Conditional
  • Background


    Kibwezi Division, in Kenya's Eastern Province, is one of the least-developed areas in Kenya. The population is circa 80,000 and the area covers circa 1000 km2. The majority of inhabitants are Meru or Kamba communities. The main source of income for rural communities is subsistence agriculture. The climate is arid to semi-arid, and rainfall is erratic. The sand dam will be built in the seasonal Wakutanye River, and will reclaim this vital water source which is badly eroded.


    The sand dam project will be undertaken by the Kakai Sand Dam Self Help Group. It will benefit around 1,000 men, women and children. The sand dam will reduce pressure on other water sources, so there will be many other indirect beneficiaries. School attendance will increase as children are relieved of water collection duties, and/or the duty of caring for siblings while parent(s) collect water. The local environment will benefit from increased water table and improved land stewardship.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Excellent was founded in 2002 by Simon Maddrell, who has 27 years experience in raising funds for and building sand dams in Eastern Province, Kenya. Excellent are not only experts in sand dams, we are also (arguably) their greatest advocates, having as part of our strategy the aim of promoting sand dams to other organisations and providing support to build them. Our vision is to transform millions of lives through sand dams.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Cornelius Kyalo Matheka

    Kyalo is the Executive Director of Africa Sand Dam Foundation, our strategic partners in Kenya. Kyalo's knowledge is key in delivering our aims.

Walking on Water


Will give a family of four clean water for life

The dam helped to raise the water table in that area. Now we are just scooping the sand and we get water