The value of a sand dam project extends beyond its contribution to farming for personal use. The experience of Mathemu self-help group shows how a sand dam project can help to create business opportunities for enterprising locals in southeast Kenya.

Kyeli Mutua is a 50-year-old farmer and father of five who is also the Chairman of the Mathemu self-help group (SHG) in southeast Kenya. He is a respected leader in his local village and is well known for his determination, hard work, and visionary thinking. He runs a thriving farming business for which he attributes his success to the availability of water provided by a nearby sand dam, which was constructed as part of a project completed by the local community and Mathemu SHG.

We met him at his farm, alongside some other group members, to discuss their long-term plans with regards to the implemented sand dam project.

"As a group, we have set aside days on which we meet to discuss our project plans and how we can best utilize the water from the sand dam to improve our living standards." Mutua tells us.

On his 2 acre piece of land, Mutua has planted rows and rows of onions, an endeavour which has been enabled by the availability of water from the nearby sand dam.

"I have been utilizing water from the sand dam to irrigate my farm, where I have planted onions, tomatoes and kales. From my entire farm, I expect to harvest 1 ton of onions." he explains.

"Owing to the fact that onions are currently selling at KES 80 per kilogram, I anticipate good returns once they are ready to harvest in a few weeks’ time."

He points out that the water project has really motivated the community, both as individuals and as a group, to embark on large scale farming for income generation.

Kyeli Mutua - Chairman of Mathemu SHG"As a group, we plan to rent a farm near the newly completed sand dam for farming. We will also be able to sell water during the drought period because the sand dam has harvested plenty of water that we can rely on for the entire year. This project has had a huge impact on our lives and has helped to improve our quality of life."

Kyeli Mutua, Chairman of Mathemu self-help group, southeast Kenya.

Mutua then led us to Lucia Mwangangi’s farm, another group member who was also excited about the completed project. She set out for us her expectations and goals that she aims to achieve over time.

"These sand dam projects have brought about so much change in our area. I have lived here for more than 20 years and we have always struggled to get water for farming, since the river would totally dry up as we approached the drought seasons. I remember how I had to dig extremely deep scoop holes to get water for farming and household uses. They were very tough times." Lucia recalls.

Lucia Mwangangi - member of Mathemu SHG"Our farming projects are now feasible thanks to the reliable water resource. I plan to utilize the water by expanding my farm to plant more French beans as I see they are very marketable. The quality of my life will be much better now thanks to the sand dam."

Lucia Mwangangi, member of Mathemu self-help group, southeast Kenya.

The entire Mathemu group expressed their gratitude with regards to the completed sand dam project and the support that was granted to ensure that their community has access to clean water.

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