The Kavoko self-help group (SHG) was set up in January 2018 with a focus on farming activities and constructing a sand dam to ensure access to clean water. Excellent Development met with two members, Anna Munanye Makau, 36, and Felistus Mutethya Charles, 48, to discuss how the completion of the sand dam has benefited their lives, the community and their land as a whole.

Prior to the construction of the sand dam, collecting water was a tiresome process. Not only was the journey to the river difficult due to poor road infrastructure, but people often had to queue up for hours upon arrival. Anna recalls having to “wake up at around 4am and walking for three hours to the water point.” Felistus Mutethya CharlesWater scarcity fundamentally infringed upon the lives of those in the Kavoko SHG; a problem which “has been persistent in this area for quite long”, Felistus explains.

“I am now relaxed, stress-free because I don’t have to walk long distances for water, I don’t have to wake up early, and I can get water at any time of day.”

Felistus Mutethya Charles, member of Kavoko self-help group, southeast Kenya.

These issues have largely been reduced since the sand dam’s completion. Previously, Anna was only able to fetch four to six jerry cans worth of water due to the distance from the closest water point. “I could not afford anything more than that,” she says. “My desire was to get one full drum (10 individual 20-litre jerry cans)”. Now, she collects one full drum in less than 20 minutes. Not only has the distance to clean water been minimized, but Anna explains she now also has “time to work on [her] farm... to tend to [her] livestock... and attend the market on market days early enough to get to the fresh produce”.

Another benefit is the change in health. “We were actually trained in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), in cleanliness, and that has led to advancements in our health,” says Felistus. “So the diseases have been minimised; they have gone so low.” Coupled with the training provided by African Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF), Excellent’s partner in southeast Kenya, members of the SHG are able to clean their own drinking water and ensure its sanitation.

An overall feeling of optimism has been felt by the Kavoko SHG. Anna has a nursery for her onions and plans on transplanting some as soon as possible. With the money generated from the harvest, she plans to use some of that money to pay the school fees for her children, and to begin poultry and goat rearing. As for Felistus, his livestock animals no longer have to walk long distances to drink water which has allowed them to graze for longer periods of time. Anna Munanye MakauFurthermore, the group have plans to start a vegetable farm within the sand dam where they hope to grow onions, tomatoes, kale, and spinach.

“My life has improved. My children are able to go to school, and meals are no longer missed as I have time to prepare food for them. The extra saved time also allows me to work on my farm, tend to livestock, and I can go to the market early to get fresh produce, unlike before when I had to go late and buy what was left. I am now really happy as a person... And I can also take showers regularly. This was not possible before.”

Anna Munanye Makau, member of Kavoko self-help group, southeast Kenya.

Anna and Felistus express how their lives have improved since the construction of the sand dam, and thank supporters for their help. They hope to have more sand dams built on the same river channel.

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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