Having water from a sand dam opens up new options for farmers who were previously restricted by water scarcity. Speaking with two members of the Kyamuisu self-help group (SHG), we see how sand dam beneficiaries are preparing for their futures with their new sustainable water supply.

What difference has the sand dam made to your lives?

Sivika: We have seen a great difference, the biggest being that before the sand dam was built we used to dig very deep to access the water, but right now the water is easily accessible and the water table has risen.

Sivika Kitui - Kyamuisu SHG

"Before the sand dam was built the water levels were very very low, so we used to dig very deep to access the water. But now we get it very easily."

Sivika Kitui, member of Kyamuisu self-help group, southeast Kenya.

Sivika, can you tell me what new crops and trees you have been able to grow because of the access to clean water?

Sivika: Yes, we have seen a great difference in the range of crops that we are able to grow. We have even introduced new ones, including avocados, which you could not grow initially because the place was very dry. Now, because there is water for irrigation, we are able to grow avocado trees.

Josephine, how has your farm changed since last July?

Josephine: In our farms there is a great difference. We have planted several fruit trees. We have oranges and lemons, although we want to graft the oranges onto the lemon trees later on. We prefer the oranges. We have also planted various vegetables.

Sivika, when you start making income from selling vegetables, what do you hope to spend that income on?

Sivika: The greatest need that the income from extra farming through irrigation will address is paying school fees. It’s been a burden for us, so it’s going to mean that we can pay for our children’s school fees much more easily. It’s also going to boost nutrition. Sometimes during the dry season what we eat is really a big challenge, so if we have enough income we will be able to supplement our diet by purchasing what we are not able to grow on our own.

Josephine, how are your children benefiting from the sand dam project?

Josephine: I have both my children and grandchildren who stay with me and they have benefited a lot from the ease of accessing water. The water is more easily available right now.

Josephine Mueni Kingangi - Kyamuisu SHG

"The fruit trees that we are planting and the additional crops that we will be able to grow will be a great boost for my children later on in the future. That is one of the greatest benefits."

Josephine Mueni Kingangi, member of Kyamuisu self-help group, southeast Kenya.

Although we desire to have a way of pumping the water upstream so that it can be closer to home, where we can irrigate without having to ferry it from a very long distance. That will really help us.

Can you both remind me how many children you have, how many boys and girls, and how old they are?

Josephine: I have one son who has three children, plus his wife, so together we are a family of six.

Sivika: I have three daughters and one son. 

Sivika, how are your children benefiting from the sand dam and access to clean water?

Sivika: Right now they have direct access to water, and, in the future, when the fruit trees we are planting mature and we are able to get more income and better nutrition, there is going to be a great benefit for them.

Do you have a message for supporters in the UK?

Sivika: First is to send my appreciation and gratitude for the work that we have already done and the financial assistance that we had in putting up the sand dam. It’s of great help to us. 

Sand dams enable rural dryland farmers to transform their own lives, reducing the time and effort spent on collecting water so that communities can focus on developing sustainable futures. Please donate to help more rural people invest in their own livelihoods, and become self-sustaining for generations to come.

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