Project information

Give a Dam - Transform a whole community

A Sand Dam will bring water to within 30 minutes of people’s homes, where otherwise there is none. It will break a cycle of subsistence that has held people back for generations. One dam will support up to 1,000 people and will store millions of litres of clean water for use all year round.

January 2014 - February 2014

Charity information: Excellent Development

Excellent Development logo
  • Need


    Dryland regions such as the Kibwezi District, in Kenya's Eastern Province, are tough places to live. The constant search for water traps millions of people in a vicious circle of subsistence. Women and children bear the heaviest burden: typically spending 6-12 hours a day collecting water, often from unsafe sources. This means that people have little time to invest in things like agriculture and education. They are trapped in a situation they have no power to improve.


    A Sand Dam built by the community will provide a year round supply of clean water for up to 1,000 people for life. It will bring water within 30 minutes of people’s homes – saving women and children up to 11 ½ hours a day. This creates the opportunity for growing food, feeding and watering livestock and maintaining hygiene and investing in new economic enterprises. By enabling people to grow enough food to eat, store and sell, Sand Dams transform lives.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Support the community to build a sand dam. This will provide a lifeline supply of clean water.


    » Provide technical support in siting and constructing the dam (the community build the dam)
    » 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 stores water for the community. This will save hours every day so they can grow food.

    Aim 2

    Support the community to terrace their land. This conserves 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. This conserves soil and water and provides timber and food.


    » 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. Soil and water is conserved.

    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 a year-round source of clean water. It will store up to 20 million litres of rainwater within sand, where it is protected from parasites and evaporation. Women and children, who once spent 6-12 hours fetching water each day, can now invest this time in agriculture and education.

    We will demonstrate our achievements by reporting on the targets which are outlined above and with photographic evidence.


    As the Sand Dam stores water from seasonal rains, the community will not fully benefit until one or two rainy seasons have passed. If the rains fail completely, the community will have to wait until the next rains to reap any benefit. We will support people to prepare their land for agriculture (most importantly through terracing) and undertake conservation activities while waiting for the next rains.


    We will provide a report once the sand dam has been completed. If there are any significant alterations to the project, we will report these. We can then provide quarterly reports on the progress we have made in achieving our aims.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £28,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £15,517 Sand Dam Build a Sand Dam
      £3,376 Farming techniques Trees, terracing, farming techniques, seeds
      £2,499 Support UK support costs
      £1,719 Support Programme Development & Governance
      £4,889 Support Fundraising & Communications
  • 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 Isunguluni Self Help Group. It will benefit 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 29 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.