Dorcus Muluki Mutangweni is 95 years old. She has 10 children, about 100 grand-children, 30 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren... she thinks.

Dorcus Muluki Mutangweni from Mutangavuni self-help group, Kenya

She is the oldest member of the Mutangavuni self-help group in Kenya, and we found her hard at work helping her community to build a sand dam.

"The droughts are getting more serious. Ever since 1998, the rains have been more and rarer in our area. And this year we got no rain. The heat is more and in this area, there are children who have never seen maize grow here in their lifetime."

Dorcus Muluki Mutangweni, Mutangavuni self-help group, Kenya.

We asked her how the environment has changed over her lifetime, and especially how droughts compare to others she has experienced. This is her story in her own words:

“This drought is very severe because in the past we would go to the forest and eat wild fruits but now all the trees are gone. Many of the trees were cut for charcoal, but many old trees that lasted a long time through many droughts are dying now because our area has been so dry for so long. So we cannot get those fruits.

"The only trees that seem to be surviving are the old baobabs. They are like me, they keep on living through the droughts.

"The droughts are getting more serious. Ever since 1998 the rains have been more and more rare in our area. And this year we got no rain. The heat is more and in this area there are children who have never seen maize grow here in their lifetime.

"The rivers have dried up completely and now just finding drinking water is a challenge. I remember the days when the rivers had water all the time. The areas around the rivers were cool and the animals had much to drink and the vegetation around the rivers was plenty.

"Now all is dry and bare.

"This is now a desert because there is no water here. We need water so that people can do irrigation and grow food. Then when the rains fail, we can still survive.

"If you look at me at my age I should not be here working on this sand dam, but I am here because this work will benefit my children and grandchildren and on and on. That is why I am here today.

"Our group has built five sand dams and we are building more. There is a big difference now around the sand dams and good change.

"There is more vegetation and at the sand dams there is plenty of Napier grass we planted that is holding the river from being eroded. We have been able to cut it for our livestock and keep them alive during this drought."

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