The Meka Maw’o self-help group were in the final stages of constructing their first sand dam when we visited them in southeast Kenya in May 2018. The community have faced many issues due to an insufficient water supply, but hope having nearby access to safe water will help shape a better future.

We met with Benson Kyalo Kituku to discuss the project. He works for our partners, the Africa Sand Dam Foundation (who supported with the build), and was inspired to get involved after seeing the benefits a sand dam brought to the village he grew up in, one that was previously beset with similar circumstances.

The nearest water supply, River Thwake, is a leading cause of the problems the community face. Its contamination produces major health risks, and Benson said, “There were some cases of typhoid from the water they get from the river. So initially when they were fetching water from that point, there were many cases of diseases.” Furthermore, it is almost 15 kilometres away from the community. Benson Kyalo Kituku, Africa Sand Dam Foundation.“Getting water for their domestic work purposes was a hard task, especially for the women. They were walking a far distance to get this water,” he explained. 

"After having access to safe water and having plenty of water, the community will have good health, they will grow vegetables, better crops and food which will improve their diet and nutrition, and they will also improve their income (from selling what they produce).”

Benson Kyalo Kituku, Africa Sand Dam Foundation, southeast Kenya.

Children’s lives were also affected, and their learning hindered, as time for school is constantly affected by waterborne diseases or water shortage. When the long journey in search of water isn’t replacing lessons, Benson said they “were missing school because the water was salmonella contaminated, and when the children have the diseases you often find that they are not attending the schools frequently.’”

They hope the completed sand dam (once filled with water from the rainy season) will provide a solution to these problems, just as Benson witnessed in his own village. He said “after having access to safe water and having plenty of water, the community will have good health, they will grow vegetables, better crops and food which will improve their diet and nutrition, and they will also improve their income (from selling what they produce).”

The amount of time saved will also allow people to focus more on farming and domestic needs, providing opportunities to dig terraces, plant food, trees and care for the family. They will be able to grow cabbages, kales, tomatoes, spinach and fruit trees, such as mango. None of this would be possible without sand dams and water irrigation.

Meko Maw'o self-help group hard at work building their sand dam.

As a last word, Benson shared how excited the community are to see the impact of their hard work in 2019, and highlighted how appreciative the community are towards those who have offered support so far. He said: “They feel very happy and thank all donors because of this support, and they wish they will continue to support them to improve their lives.”

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