Water Projects

School Fees

School Building

Honey Project

About Kitui

About this Site

The average per capita income in Kitui is less than €2 per day

1. Sand Dams & Sub Surface Dams 

For generations, families in Kitui lucky enough to live within reach of a seasonal river have harvested water from scoop holes in the river bed. Though these rivers do not flow in the dry season, the deep sand acts as a reservoir for water.

  We use this principle to build a sand dam. Here (left, right and above right, a suitable site is found on a seasonal river bed which has a hard underlying rock formation which will form a suitable foundation for the dam wall.  
  Under the guidance of the Development Department of the Diocese of Kitui, a water committee is formed which will partner with Friends of Kitui to provide their labour, and locally sourced materials such as sand and gravel for mixing concrete. The majority of the committee will usually be women, not least because it is traditionally womens' work to fetch water. However all the community gets involved, including the village leaders and elders.  
  The first task of the committee is to agree on common ownership for the site of the sand dam, so that all may have access to water in perpetuity. The owner of the land on which the dam is to be sited will grant access, and this is legally registered.

Once the preliminaries are sorted out, the technical survey takes place to determine the Bill of Quantities for the construction. Then site clearance takes place, to expose the solid rock base on which the dam will be constructed.

  The Development Department's Water Technician will liaise with the appropriate Government Agencies who will grant the appropriate licences, and sometimes will also produce the technical drawings for construction. At this point, a skilled artisan will be employed to oversee the construction process. Work now begins, with the enthusiastic participation of the community.  

Collecting the materials for construction is a major part of the effort. The community will hand-carry tons of sand to the site.


Gravel, or hardcore, for the concrete will also be provided by the community. Usually this is produced by breaking larger rocks by hand- and most often, it is the women who will do this arduous work.

  This dam at Makongo in eastern Kitui is shown nearing completion. On left we see the Assistant Chief for this district, and on right some members of the organising committee. In the background, men and women carry and place rocks in the concrete to construct the dam wall. You can also see the steel reinforcing bars which give the wall strength.  
  (Left) Jacinta, Water Technician in the Development Department, points to the completed dam, shown also on the right. This is the side of the dam where the rains will wash down sand, which will build up to the height of the spillway in the centre of the dam.   
  This picture gives some idea of the scale of the construction. This dam was sponsored by ThreeSixty Marketing from Kilkenny, Ireland  
  Shown here is a mature dam at Kyeni, close to Kitui town, and some 10 years old. The upstream side of the dam, and for a hundred metres or more, has filled up with sand, which retains tens of thousands of litres of water. For the first few years after construction, water wass harvested by scooping in the sand bed, just as we showed on the first pictures above.  
  After 10 years, in this partcular case, Friends of Kitui constructed a well close to the sand dam. This well was sponsored by Dalkey Clinic, Dalkey, Ireland, and now gives the community access to very clean and safe water for hundreds of people. Not only do they have safe drinking water, but the area around the dam for a considerable distance is now more fertile due the to retained water, and the community can now grow and irrigate new crops for their families.

Shown right is a group of women from this location celebrating the commissioning of the new well with song and dance.


Hand Dug Wells


Water Storage Tanks