Dry Riverbeds - Source of Water

Project goals

To enhance food security and income of farmers through:

  • Making water available for domestic use, cattle and small scale irrigation
  • Increasing knowledge and skills concerning water management and agriculture
  • Increasing agricultural production and sales of produce
  • Protecting farm lands against erosion

Planned results

  • 12 concrete dams constructed in seasonal streams for water retention
  • 360 farmers trained in water management and new agricultural technologies
  • At least 60 farmers helped to set up new agricultural activities
  • Riverbank protection zones created and trees planted






Building dams in dry seasonal streams ...

... to retain water in the riverbeds ...

... and give farmers new possibilities !

Project description

Ukambani is a region in east Kenya. It is a so called semi-arid area, which means that it is frequently dry and hot.
A large part of the community consist of subsistence farmers. They depend on agriculture for their income, but due to severe droughts their efforts are often limited. Shortage of (irrigation) water and knowlegde of new agricultural technologies results into low food security and low income levels for the community.

Dams in seasonal streams

To change circumstances AgriNextLevel in cooperation with NACODEV, a local NGO with a lot of experience in water retention projects and a few local communities, like to construct so called subsurface dams in seasonal streams. During the rainy season a lot of water flows through the streams, but when the rains disappear, the water in the streams disappears as well.

Through building weirs/dams over the full width of the stream, the water is retained and can be used for domestic purposes and drinking water for cattle, but also for small scale irrigation activities.

Three communites have asked NACODEV to help them to make more water available in the area. These are the inhabitants of the small villages of Ikombe, Kikaso and Ikalaasa (see interactive map). Construction of the dams will be done mainly by the inhabitants themselves. They will collect a large part of the materials needed as well, like stones, gravel and sand.

Self help development

Through increasing the availability of water and organizing trainings in water management and enhanced agricultural methodes, opportunities are created in which the inhabitants are able to help themselves to develop further.

Same sort of projects implemented earlier by NACODEV show that farmers take the opportunity to grow vegetables to increase their food security and income. Often they start small, using water cans and buckets for irrigation. After earning some money they increase their activities and are able to buy even a diesel pump.
To train the participants practically demo-gardens with net-houses and drip irrigation will be set up.


Along the streams riverbank protection zones will be created to avoid erosion of farm lands. Here trees are planted and natural vegetation is protected. Green oases develop where all kinds of birds find a habitat.

JOIN US and sponsor a dam !

Do you like to support this project? You can fund one or more dams, or a part of the amount needed. On this page you can find the budget needed to build one dam, including trainings, setting up agricultural activities and operational costs of our implementing partner.

Already 4 out of 12 dams are being sponsored!
Thanks to Projectenfonds Atlantis, Stichting 75 jaar NBB and some other organisations.

Besides, two hand pumps are being sponsored.

Do you like to get more information about the project or make a donation? See Contact.

* The amount needed forms 70% of the total costs per dam. The remaining 30% will be contributed by the community itself in kind like materials (sand, gravel and stones), through labour and financial contributions.


Budget needed (per dam)

Dam construction:
- Establish a self-help group
- Selection suitable location
- Materials (cement/steel bars)
- Permits and surveys
Set up horticultural businesses:
- Training improved agri-methods
- Demo-gardens and seeds
- Drip irrigation and net-houses
- Tailor-made training / farm visits
Nature / riverbank protection:
- Training water management
- Training environment protection
- Tools (spades, wheelbarrows, etc.)
- Trees

(incl. 15% operational costs)

Amount needed
(per dam) * :








- Project management: NACODEV

- Construction: Local communities

June 2019

Opportunities after field survey

AgriNextLevel and NACODEV have paid a visit to Ikombe, where the people have asked NACODEV to help to construct dams. During the field survey along the Ivutini seasonal stream (see green GPS-route) several indications have been found that the underground contains water (see blue arrows). At several places shallow wells have been dug in the dry riverbeds, which contain water. Deep wells on the riverbanks containing water have been found as well. Besides, several potential locations have been identified which are suitable to build dams (weirs).

At the orange circle a farmer family was visited ...

Meeting a farmer family

During the field survey around Ikombe we met a little girl fetching water from a self dug well in the riverbed. Her grandfather told us that they needed the water for their vegetable garden. We were invited to join them and visit their garden. To our great surprise we only found a big bag, filled with soil. In this bag 5 collard plants and 2 tomato plants were growing, protected by a mosquito net. Asking if this was all, the grandfather nodded affirmatively. He told us that the maize and beans had failed completely because of the drought. Since his three sons, working as unskilled laborers in Nairobi, sent him sometimes some money, they were able to buy some food.

The encounter with this family confirms that water is very important for this area. Therefore AgriNextLevel will try to raise funds for this project, starting beginning of 2020.

June 2020

Preparations started to build dams in Ikombe

Up to now, two dams have been sponsored, one of them by Projectfund Atlantis.

Despite the corona crisis the boardmembers of Kiundwani Self Help Group decided in a meeting with NACODEV to start preparations for building the dams. They agreed to adhere to government regulations concerning COVID-19, like social distancing, washing hands, wearing a mask and working in small shifts.

July 2020

Locations determined

Stichting 75 jaar NBB will sponsor the third dam.

The locations of the three dams have been determined by the project participants and the engineer.
Besides, the self-help groups are busy to collect materials needed like stones, gravel and sand.

Technical survey
The exact locations of the three dams have been measured. The slope of the bed was also examined on site to determine the length over which the river bed will be flooded.

August 2020

Under the guidance of two experienced builders, the foundations were laid and the wooden molds placed. In this an iron frame is made that is filled with boulders and a strong cement mix.

It is simple work so that the project participants can help easily, such as chipping larger stones to get gravel, supply of water, mixing and pouring cement, etc.

Watch a video in which the participants are working on the foundation of one of the dams.

October 2020

First of three dams ready

We now have to wait for the coming rainy season so that the dam in the dry riverbed is filled with water.

In the coming months, a demonstration garden will be set up in which the members of the 'self-help group' will learn how to grow vegetables in a net-house, using a drip irrigation system.

December 2020

Dams filled with water

During the past weeks the three dams have been flooded with water. After heavy work, the residents around the dams are very happy with the result.

In the next phase they will be trained in growing vegetables.

January 2021



During the project, participants receive several trainings on water management, improved farming methods and environmental protection.

February 2021

Demo plots

Practical training is also given. To this end, demo plots are made with net-houses, built by the participants themselves. Here they learn to grow vegetables using drip irrigation.

March 2021

Erosion control

A strip along the seasonal rivers is marked as a bank protection zone. This helps to protect the agricultural land from erosion caused by the flowing water during the rainy season.

Trees and napier grass are planted here. The latter can be mowed without removing the roots, and serve as feed for cows and goats.

April 2021

Practical training

Practical training has now started. The project participants learn to grow vegetables in net-houses on the demo plots. These net-houses protect the crops against pests and diseases.

To save water, a drip irrigation system is used.
The first seedlings are now being transplanted from the nursery to the beds.