March 8th was International Women’s Day – a time to celebrate the achievements of women across the world. 

Thanks to your support, we have supported hundreds of inspirational women over the past year to build sand dams, enabling them to achieve a lifelong supply of clean water for their entire community. With your help, we can support even more communities to transform their lives.

Every day, women in drylands face the harsh realities of severe drought. 

In some parts of rural Kenya, women can spend all day collecting water in the dry season. In the long queues at crowded water points, women speak with each other about the need for change. Sometimes, these conversations inspire women to form self-help groups, to seek solutions to their ongoing problems with a lack of water.

These women have the vision, courage and strength they need to transform their lives. What they lack is the financial support needed to build a sand dam. Can you help them?

Wonderful is the chairlady of the Isungulini self-help group. She mobilised her group to build their first sand dam, and through sheer perseverance, they went on to build three more. With the water from their sand dams and the time saved, the group are growing papayas, mangoes, onions, tomatoes, kale and chillies. This newfound source of income has made a remarkable transformation to their lives. She explains how women in her community have gained respect since the project started:

 "Women have been given the chance to lead. Men have that respect for the women unlike before when men did not respect women. I am a good example. I have seen men asking for guidance from me and that is a good sign that women are being given a chance in society to lead."

Wonderful and the Isungulini self-help group have solved their problems of a lack of water. Not only that, but she has challenged traditional gender roles, encouraging confidence amongst the women and building respect for women in the community.

Could you empower more women like Wonderful to build sand dams and transform lives?

£15 could equip a woman in southeast Kenya with a clawbar, so she can help to break rocks into small enough pieces to build a sand dam, providing a lifelong supply of water for her community. 

Gender inequality is a fact of life in rural Kenya. Traditionally, women run the household, while men are responsible for making important decisions. It is a woman’s job to collect and carry 20-litre jerry cans of water back to the homestead – a daily toil which can take hours and is physically exhausting.

The majority of self-help group members are women. In self-help groups, women find equality, as well as the opportunity to solve their water problems. Women and men are included equally in training and activities – even building sand dams, which would usually be men’s work. Group members say with confidence and pride: "There is no men’s and women’s work around here". The voices of the women in the groups are strong and confident.

Challenging traditional gender roles is not easy. Women are often expected to stay at home and look after their husbands. But when the sand dams start providing the community with clean water to drink, and the farms yield bumper harvests of crops, there is pride and increased respect amongst the community for everything that the women have achieved.

When Terecia Muleia was a young woman, she had to carry water for very long distances. Now, she and her family walk less than 1km to collect water – all because her daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Kyalo, joined the Wasya wa Athi self-help group, and helped to build a sand dam. They are now able to grow mango trees on their family farm, which they can sell at the local market. Terecia said:

"My daughter-in-law has worked with her hands to make a change. I am proud."

Having a sand dam nearby means people – mostly women – can save as much as 8 hours a day from collecting water. They can spend these precious hours growing crops, and earning enough money to pay their children’s school and medical fees, breaking free of poverty.

Here are some of the ways in which your donations could empower more women to break free of the long walks to collect water:

The women we support are committed to transforming their lives, so that their children don’t have to endure the same hardship. We hope you can help them achieve this dream.

We hope you feel inspired by what these women have been able to achieve, and we hope you can empower more women today to join self-help groups and build sand dams, providing lifelong water for their community.

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