Sand Dams in Kenya

The Rotary Sand Dams project is a revolution that is bringing huge benefits in Africa.

Sand Dam in Kenya

The Rotary Sand Dams project is a revolution that is bringing huge benefits in Africa.

Dawlish Water Rotary Club has been the lead club for the District-wide Sand Dams project for Kenya since autumn 2012. It has become an extremely successful project, utilising Rotary global and Government grants wherever possible.

This Rotary project is truly making a world of difference. UK Rotary and other funding could well reach an amazing £1million.

With the fantastic support of 22 other Rotary clubs in Devon & Cornwall and beyond, just just over £25,000 has been raised – money which will be more than trebled by grants. The District has given tremendous support to the project which has increased the investment in Sand Dams, through allocating 20,000 dollars to date.

The first dam in Eastern Kenya was completed in February 2016. The second dam in Kenya which is close to completion is part a global grant for four dams.  The cost is around £20k. 

The importance of these self-help projects has been highlighted once again by the present severe drought in northern Kenya and elsewhere.


The joint RIBI scheme works with the charity Excellent ( who have key expertise and experience in this field, the African Sand Dams Foundation who identify communities willing to build their own sand dam, and local Rotary clubs in Kenya.

Sand Dams comprise concrete dams built on rock across sedimentary riverbeds in the drylands of Kenya. On average they serve communities of between 500 and 1,000 people. Villagers have to pledge and build their own dams with money coming from Rotary and assistance and guidance from Rotary’s partner, Excellent Development, who have the expertise in Sand Dams.

Sand Dams provide a reservoir of water purified by natural filtering through sediments and sands. They therefore protect against evaporation and disease – while allowing farmers to grow crops and trees, households to have clean water. Furthermore, they allow expansion of education as families can pay for this through an improved local economy and children do not have to spent hours collecting water.

Crucially, Sand Dams are self-help schemes, extremely cost-effective, low-cost solutions where the local community has first to signal its willingness to build a dam. There is little or no maintenance.

With increasing drought around the world these solutions form vital improvements, which, compounded, make a significant contribution to sustainability – giving people clean water and them to improve their health and welfare and their prospects and reduce the risk of migration.


Dawlish Water Rotary would like to say a big thank-you to Exeter Southernhay (2 donations) who joined them enthusiastically right at the beginning, and to the other clubs who have contributed so generously to date.



Berkhamsted Bulbourne (District 1260) – 2 donations


Dartmoor Vale



Exeter Enterprise

Exeter Southernhay

Exmouth Raleigh

Hemel Hempstead


Kingsbridge Estuary

Ilfracombe (2 donations)

Otter Valley

Preston (Paignton)




District 1170/1175 has supported the project from the beginning with an initial grant of 10,000 dollars and earmarked a further grant of 10,000 dollars; grants are used to obtain Global Grant through the RIBI inter-District project of which we became part several years ago. When we joined this enterprise – to maximise our fund-raising efforts and smooth the way to Global Grants – 

Initially, 12 Rotary Districts were involved and now there are 20 Districts embracing some 200 clubs. At the beginning it was suggested that Rotary would be able to deliver clean water at £10 per person for life - currently water is being delivered below that cost to well over 70,000 people.  


Dawlish Water are continuing to make presentations to any interested clubs and are planning further fundraising events this year. They are keen to sign up further clubs inside and outside the District to support even more sand dams. Contact: Brian Hodge –Co-ordinator -


The true value of sand dams can be counted in a number of ways:

First and foremost they are self-help schemes – enabling local communities to build their own resource with pride and self-worth

They provide a ready, reliable source of clean water

They prevent evaporation of this precious resource and prevent the spread of disease through contaminated water, mosquitoes and cattle

They enable farmers to develop crops and tree plantations and improve the local economy

They encourage ‘green areas’ as the water table rises

They help improve the local environment and local climate


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