Excellent Development’s Communications Manager, Dwain Lucktung, meets Faith Kiio, a Kenyan farmer and mother whose life has been transformed thanks to nearby sand dams that have saved her enduring treacherous and arduous daily trips to get water.

Judging by her bubbly and positive demeanour, you wouldn’t have guessed where Faith Kiio was a few years ago. As the land around her home was so dry, the 40 year old farmer, from the Nathangyu East B community, had to walk for 10 hours every day up and down a rocky hill to an old spring, carrying water in heavy jerry cans on her back; all in aid of her five children and the rest of her community. She described the trip as “unbearable”Faith Kiio, farmer and mother from the Nathangyu East B community, southeast Kenya

The water itself was not safe, giving periodic cases of diarrhoea, and the lack of water (despite Faith’s efforts) meant there was never enough to use and develop her farm.

"We were given new ideas, enabled to do things we could not do before… unlike other NGOs (in this case) we were empowered with skills and knowledge to help ourselves."

Faith Kiio, farmer and mother from the Nathangyu East B community, southeast Kenya.

Then with the support of Excellent, our partners, the Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF) and the UK Government, in 2010 two sand dams were built just 10 minutes from where Faith, her family and her community lived. “The sand dams have made me, my family and my farm, much healthier and happier” Faith said. “We were given new ideas, enabled to do things we could not do before… unlike with other NGOs (in this case), we were empowered with skills and knowledge to help ourselves,” she added.

Now with tools and training in farming and how to treat water, there are reduced cases of diarrhoea. Faith’s health has improved, no longer taking on the strain from that uphill trip for water. Her four goats and donkey are also stronger, “My animals used to get blisters, and internal complications due to inhaling dust on way to the water point,” Faith affirmed.

“The biggest change from the dam is seeing my trees that I planted grow so fast, I had no trees before because there wasn’t enough water.” Faith’s farm is now a sea of green with around 200 trees (grevillea, senna, mango and orange trees). She can now also grow over 50kg of maize, over 50kg of green grams and over 50kg of pigeon peas. Despite being a small farm, that equates to her being able to feed her family, as well as make around 10,000 shillings selling surplus produce in local markets to invest back into her farm. Time to do this is only made possible thanks to the 10 hours per day saved having to fetch water.

Looking back at the hill where she used to get water from, Faith said: “It makes me realise how different my life is now.”

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