Right now, millions of men, women and children living in Kenya are in the grip of a long and devastating drought.

For the last four years, people in rural Kenya have endured season after season of desperately sparse rainfall, draining their ability to cope with drought. Scarce rainfall comes with disastrous consequences, as livestock is left to perish in the hundreds of thousands.

For the pastoralist communities of the Northern Rangelands of Kenya, livestock deaths represent a loss of food, income and dignity. Crop prices have risen dramatically, forcing them to sell their remaining underweight cattle for rock-bottom prices to feed their children, edging them dangerously close to famine. A 2017 report revealed that many families in Turkana County, Northern Kenya, were forced to go the entire day without eating. Malnutrition is rife, and conflicts flare up over increasingly limited food, water and pastureland.

Communities in the Northern Rangelands, Kenya, need long-term solutions to build their resilience against drought – before they reach breaking point.

The Mukogodo Maasai have already built a network of sand dams in Lekurruki Conservancy, Northern Rangelands, thanks to the support of people like you. Despite the very low rainfall, the dams are functioning very well – providing desperately needed sources of clean water for 7,200 people.

But we must do more. We urgently need to raise funds for the tools and materials, to enable local people to extend the network of sand dams in the Northern Rangelands, so that more of them are able to withstand the ongoing drought. 

Could you help? A donation of £40 could provide a wheelbarrow, so that more people in the Northern Rangelands are able to build sand dams and provide much-needed water for their families, neighbours and livestock.

In the past year, vast areas of pastureland have been scorched by the intense drought, so they can no longer be used to graze livestock. Tensions have risen between rival groups over the remaining pasture. Disagreements sometimes lead to outbreaks of conflict, making it even more challenging to build long-term solutions to water scarcity. 

Remarkably, despite these tensions, members of the Mukogodo Maasai, Turkana and Samburu communities are working peacefully together to build more sand dams in Lekurukki. They have put aside their differences to find a positive solution to their shared problem of a lack of water.

Lekineji Moile of the Mukogodo Maasai explains what it has meant to be working with Turkana and Samburu communities, who had previously been his rivals:

"I was able to make new friends and also learnt new skills. The working together has promoted harmonious coexistence... Today we are working together, this is a great impact of sand dams... We have agreed to remain peaceful beyond the construction period."

The network of sand dams already built in Lekurruki Conservancy will raise groundwater levels considerably, meaning that pastureland can flourish again, and there will be less competition for areas to graze livestock.

Sand dams are also having a positive effect for endangered wildlife species. Community members have spotted herds of elephants as well as the endangered reticulated giraffe and Grevy’s zebra near sand dams, at times when they are usually forced into the mountains in search of water. Local reports note that clashes have reduced, now there is more water available for all; people and wildlife are living more peacefully alongside each other.

We urgently need to raise £80,000, to enable local people to extend the network of sand dams in the Northern Rangelands of Kenya. Every dam built will mean families have water to drink, food to eat and pastureland to graze cattle – instead of facing more hunger, more thirst, more livestock fatalities and more conflict – even famine. Every donation counts.

Here are a few examples of the tools and materials your donation could provide, to enable one of the remaining sand dams to be constructed before the next rains:

  • £15 could provide a claw bar, an essential tool used to break rocks into smaller pieces.
  • £40 could provide a wheelbarrow, to transport rocks, sand and cement on the dam site.
  • £60 could supply a roll of barbed wire, to reinforce the sand dam and anchor it the bedrock.
  • £85 could provide a set of tools, including a hacksaw, pickaxe, claw bar, sledgehammer and shovel.
  • £160 could supply all the shovels that a community group needs to build a sand dam.

Please consider making a donation today, to enable more people like Lekineji Moile to extend the network of sand dams in the Northern Rangelands, providing their families, neighbours and livestock with clean water for life.

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