What does water mean to you? When we ask the question to people in rural Kenya, the answer is usually simple: Water means everything – it means hope, opportunity, and life.

Time is money

Ruth Masai, Athiani Farmers self-help groupRuth Masai, from the Athiani Farmers self-help group has lived with severe water shortages all her life. She has walked for hours every day to collect water, leaving little time for anything else.

"This area does not receive much rainfall and the water harvested in sand dams will really benefit us. The sand dams will reduce the distance covered to water points from 2.5 kilometers to half a kilometer. The time I will save will be spent on growing vegetables."

Ruth Masai, Athiani Farmers self-help group.

To make things worse, Ruth spent much of the little money she has on buying water, at the expense of school fees and buying nutritious food. Getting access to a reliable, safe and free source of water close to home has literally turned her life around.

Ruth's story

"We have now constructed a sand dam which is full of water and we have started utilising the water for vegetable farming. These vegetables will enable us to solve the challenges we face in our homesteads, for example, raising our children and paying school fees, because we struggle when it comes to paying school fees."

"In the past, we collected water from a water kiosk near Kambu town, where a 20 litre jerry can is sold at 3 Kenyan shillings (2 pence). For my family to have enough water for cooking, washing clothes, bathing and other domestic use, I spent 30 shillings daily (20 pence)." 

"The sand dams will reduce the distance covered to water points from 2.5 kilometers to half a kilometer, so I will have water near to my home. This area does not receive much rainfall and the water harvested in sand dams will really benefit us."

"We now have many plans. For instance, we want to construct school water tanks, so our children don’t suffer anymore due to lack of water…"

A brighter future for dryland communities

In rural dryland communities like Ruth’s, sand dams can really perform miracles. The availability of water close to home frees people from a vicious cycle of subsistence and opens up countless opportunities for a better future.

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