Communities in southeast Kenya are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of global crises like COVID-19 and climate change. Yet with a sand dam project, like that completed by the Kavoko self-help group, communities are equipped to thrive under these challenging conditions.

Kavoko self-help group is a community group which draws its members from the Yangoni Village in Kitui county, southeast Kenya. The area is classified as arid and semi-arid land, receiving little rainfall and experiencing prolonged dry periods throughout the year.

For many years the residents of Yangoni village have been faced with numerous challenges, ranging from a lack of water to food insecurity, despite being located next to a seasonal river channel. In a bid to help solve the water challenges facing them, locals joined together and formed the Kavoko self-help group as a platform for working together towards solving their common problems of water access and food insecurity.

Through support from the Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF), in collaboration with Excellent Development, the community group has been able to implement a sand dam project along the nearby river channel that includes a range of support on conservation agriculture practices.

Mwendwa Kilonzi, 28, hails from the local community and is a member of the Kavoko group. He shares his experiences of how the water project has been of benefit to him and the wider community.

"Before the construction of this dam, the river had been badly eroded with stones protruding from everywhere. We could not get enough water for both household and livestock use, let alone for irrigation farming. We could waste a lot of time in pursuit of water, while our crops would dry because of the little rainfall received here."

He continues by explaining how the sand dam project has changed these circumstances for the better.

Mwendwa Kilonzi of Kavoko SHG on his farm"The sand dam has helped us tap enough water to sustain irrigation farming throughout the year. I have been able to grow a wide range of crops to sell and to feed my large family, including my mother and father."

Mwendwa Kilonzi, member of Kavoko self-help group, southeast Kenya.

"So far, I have grown kales, spinach, and fruit trees in my small farm along the river. They are doing well and represent good prospects for the future. I have been making average daily sales of kales and spinach worth KES 300 (Kenyan Shillings), which is a big boost for me, especially in the current times of the COVID-19 pandemic where jobs are hard to find" says Mwendwa.

Mwendwa concludes by telling us how members of the community group are happy and thankful to donors for supporting the water projects they have benefited from, which are greatly changing their lives for the better.

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