Excellent's Communications Manager, Dwain Lucktung (pictured bottom left), finds out how Jane went from living in poverty to making a profit for her children and her community...

Time to invest in personal development (from education to work) and regular access to safe water are essential for anyone. Combined they are the sources of life and growth – too often taken for granted. These are two things that 50 year old Jane Kisulu (a farmer from the Kalimani Goa village in Kenya with a population of 491 people) Jane Kisulu, a member of the Tukille self help group and community in southeast Kenyasaw a dire lack of a few years ago when she was forced to send her children (3 boys and 3 girls) to fetch water located an hour away from their home on a daily basis.

"The sand dam and work with our supporters has helped our group stay together, to achieve the same goals… for these reasons, we are happier."

Jane Kisulu, a member of the Tukille self-help group and community in southeast Kenya.

Her children (the youngest is currently 15 and the oldest is 33), could only carry so much water between themselves, sometimes having to sacrifice school work to invest in the journey and process of digging up and collecting water from scoop holes in river banks. The lack of water would also diminish the quality and quantity of farming Jane could do, as well as prevent Jane’s fellow community women (responsible for the majority of farming) from being able to take daily baths and sustain household hygiene. The ripple effect of not having clean, safe water was multi-layered.

2015, a sand dam, safe water, hope and dignity for all

In late 2015 following a presentation in their local market by Excellent’s partners in Kenya, Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF), Jane and her community were sold on the idea of a local sand dam’s potential to provide year in year out safe water supply, and so got to work with building one (supported by ASDF, the UK Government, Rotary clubs in UK and Ireland, and Excellent).

By February 2016, and one sand dam later, the impact was evident for all to see and feel.

“(Now) I walk 5 minutes from my home to get to our sand dam and clean water. My children have more time for work and school (because they don’t have to spend more than 2 hours every day collecting water), and the community women feel more happy because their hygiene at home has improved” Jane said.

She added that due to the increased water supply her cattle (needed to plough land and provide milk), goats (to provide milk) and donkeys (to carry heavy weight like food and water) have got healthier and stronger to the extent they have been giving birth, expanding on Jane’s livestock.

From living in poverty to making a profit

And her trees are no longer dying like they were before the sand dam. On the contrary – as the sand dam build not only provided water as an end product but training in terrace digging, farming and farming tools as part of the process, Jane and her community are now able to do large scale farming. During the harvest season, they do not only consume/use, but also sell surplus maize, beans, sorghum (a versatile grain that can be incorporated into a variety of food such as bread, cereal and pasta), cow peas (which can be grinded down to make dishes like soup and chapati), 40 fruit trees (a mixture of lemons and oranges) and 20 grevillea trees (a fast growing evergreen tree used by communities for timber which in turn can be used to build constructs such as granaries and food storages).

It’s a vast turnaround for Jane and her family, as the now community role model closed our interview with: “The sand dam and work with our supporters has helped our group stay together, to achieve the same goals… for these reasons, we are happier.”

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