Published in June 2014

The Charitable Foundation (TCF) is an Australian family foundation dedicated to the eradication of poverty and conflict. In 2012, they awarded Excellent Development a five-year grant, supporting six self-help groups in rural southeast Kenya to achieve water and food security. The project is being implemented with World Relief Australia and African Sand Dam Foundation as partners.

Clean water for 29,000 people

With TCF's generous contribution, the self-help groups are building 18 sand dams, which will bring an urgently needed improved source of water close to 3,000 people's homes. A further 26,000 people in the surrounding communities will also benefit from improved access to a sustainable supply of water.

Steve Killelea, TCFs Chairman and founder, was attracted to Excellent Development’s approach, because of the simplicity and effectiveness of sand dams - a simple, cheap and effective innovation for overcoming water scarcity in rural drylands. Steve said:

“What I really like about (this project) is the concept of sand dams. They are low-tech, inexpensive to build, are operational within months of being completed, and the construction time is usually in a matter of months."

"This means there is a very very quick yield for the community, almost no maintenance, and, because they're low-tech, it's very very easy for the community to build, with a small amount of supervision.”

"I think sand dams are the innovation I've seen in the last five years which has excited me the most. Quite often innovations which we see - they sound good in the west - but when you get down on the ground, a lot of them aren't so innovative or necessarily practical and have limited uses. The potential for sand dams is astronomical."

Steve Killelea, The Charitable Foundation

A five-year commitment

These sand dams will radically improve the lives of some of Kenya's most vulnerable people. But the sand dams are just a beginning. TCF's grant is also supporting the self-help groups with training and tools needed to improve farming and food production. This means better diets, the ability to earn incomes, and opportunities for children to go to school.

The self-help groups are now almost two years into their project, and have completed nine sand dams. The benefits are already beginning to show.

Stephen Musyoki Kimuyu from the Kyuasini Water Project says: "We already have water in this sand dam even before we finish it. In two years' time, there will be plenty of water, no more long distances in search of water and our farms will start giving us high yields because of the water. Our children will have an easier time."

Thanks to sustained support from TCF, these six communities have reliable sources of safe water close to home and opportunities to lift themselves out of poverty for good.