A community in southeast Kenya share what benefits a sand dam project has provided, including water and food security, as well as income for their children's education and other activities.

Tyaa Tito self-help group (SHG) is a community group which draws its members from Kamutungu Village in Kitui County, southeast Kenya. The area is classified as an arid and semi-arid land, receiving little rainfall throughout the year and prolonged dry periods.

For many years, residents of Kamutungu have been faced by numerous challenges ranging from lack of water to food insecurity despite being next to a seasonal river channel. In a bid to help solve the water challenges facing them, locals joined together and formed Tyaa Tito SHG as a platform of working together towards solving the common problems of water access and food insecurity in their area.

"The sand dam has helped us access enough water to sustain irrigation farming in our area."

Nzenga Musyoka, member of Tyaa Tito self-help group, southeast Kenya.

Through support from Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF) in collaboration with Excellent Development, the community group has been able to construct a sand dam along River Tyaa and get training on a range of soil conservation and climate-smart agriculture practices; this has since been instrumental in changing people’s lives and their land.

A visit to the community group by ASDF was met with joy, locals came out to share their experiences at the village and how the dam had positively changed their lives since its construction:

“Before the construction of this dam, the river had been badly eroded with stones protruding everywhere, we could not get water for household or livestock use let alone irrigation farming. We could waste a lot of time in pursuit of water and our crops would dry with the little rainfall received here” said Nzenga Musyoka, 38, a member of Tyaa Tito SHG.

"The sand dam has helped us access enough water to sustain irrigation farming in our area; I have been able to grow a wide range of crops for sale and to feed my family. Currently, I have grown kale, spinach and maize in my small farm along the river which provides me with enough income to feed my three children and pay for their tuition fees” added Nzenga.

"I have been able to plant kale and spinach which are all doing well."

Beatrice Mutemi, group secretary of Tyaa Tito self-help group, southeast Kenya.

Beatrice Mutemi, 27, hails from the village and has been serving as the group secretary. She shared her thoughts on the sand dam and agriculture project and the benefits it has brought to the community:

“It used to be very hard for us as women of this village, we would walk for more than 3km upstream looking for water from scoop holes or water kiosks because the river was always dry. The queues were long and the little water obtained could only be used for cooking, food had to always be bought because the rain-fed agriculture never yielded enough for the family” said Beatrice.

With the construction of the sand dam and training from ASDF staff, the mother of two has been able to work on her small farm and provide food for the family:

“The construction of the dam has provided us with a lot of water which I have utilized to do farming on my farm along the river. I have been able to plant kale and spinach which are all doing well, they are available for my family use to help improve our eating habits as well as selling the surplus to fund other activities” affirmed Beatrice.

Community members remain thankful to ASDF, Excellent and all donors for their support in the implementation of the project, and they remain committed to working on more projects aimed at improving the lives and future of their community.

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