The Kyandani self-help group (SHG) was set up in 2009 with the aim of constructing a sand dam to alleviate their water scarcity, as well as developing their vegetable farms, which had long suffered because of a lack of water. We talked to two members, Sarah Nzangi Munywoki, 32, and Regina Kasyoka Kea, 48, to discuss how their land and lives have changed since the completion of a sand dam.

In their village, water scarcity has been a prevalent issue: one which transcends generations. Sarah and Regina describe the experience of their parents and grandparents, who had to travel long distances to fetch water from the river.

Not only did they have to carry the water on their backs (as they didn’t have donkeys to assist in the carrying), but the water that was collected was often dirty – resulting in the widespread outbreak of waterborne diseases such as typhoid or diarrhoea. Regina Kasyoka KeaThis elevated the risk of children missing school as they either had to go to the hospital or be left at home recovering and sleeping.

"The diseases are now disappearing because of the clean water we are using and because we are aware of those diseases."

Regina Kasyoka Kea, member of Kyandani self-help group, southeast Kenya.

Fortunately, the completion of the sand dam has had a positive ripple effect on the community as a whole. As clean water has become more accessible to those in the community, more time has been opened up to “clean the homesteads... keep the latrine clean... and to keep everything in order,” says Regina. In addition to having more time, she describes how “the diseases are now disappearing because of the clean water we are using and because we are aware of those diseases.”

Sarah and Regina reflect on their life since the completion of the sand dam with enthusiasm and gratitude. “So far my greatest achievement is that I have been relieved of the tiredness that I used to have walking for such long distances,” recounts Sarah. Now, she is able to tend to her tree nursery and her vegetable garden. Sarah Nzangi MunywokiHarvesting kale, spinach and tomatoes has also meant that she no longer has to buy vegetables from the marketplace.

“So far my greatest achievement is that I have been relieved of the tiredness that I used to have walking for such long distances.”

Sarah Nzangi Munywoki, member of Kyandani self-help group, southeast Kenya.

As for Regina, the impact of the sand dam has meant that she can now be at ease knowing her grandchildren “will be healthy and enjoy their life at their grandmother’s home.” The two express great appreciation, maintaining that they can now “focus on the future because what we can see from the shallow well and the sand dam is a future project that will actually sustain us.”

They thank Excellent Development, the donors and the African Sand Dam Foundation (Excellent's partners in southeast Kenya) for their help and humbly request that other groups may get the same support so that they too can enjoy life as the Kyandani SHG are today.

Could you help more people to break free from poverty by supporting them to build sand dams and carry out climate-smart farming, so they have enough water to drink and food to eat? Please donate what you can.

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