Sand dam projects have the power to help people realise their ambitions, which in southeast Kenya are often restricted by conditions imposed by the climate. This power is apparent from the experience of members of the New Kyambondo self-help group, one of whom we recently spoke with to hear their story.

In a recent visit to the New Kyambondo self-help group of Kikamene Village, based in the Watema location of Makueni County, we met Francis Mutuku Kikuvi. Francis is a 50-year-old father of five who is gaining great benefits from his farming activities thanks to the sand dam projects that he and members of his community have constructed.

Francis, who serves as a member of the New Kyambondo self-help group, expressed that his hopes for securing a livelihood from farming were rejuvenated upon the completion of the third sand dam project in the area.

"I feel motivated to keep working hard when I see the efforts of our own hands; the water that is harvested by these sand dam projects. Not once did I imagine we would have all this water in our community." he says.

Francis, who is also a pastor in the community church, says that his life has improved greatly since the implementation of the water projects. He is now able to afford to educate his children without struggling to raise funds for school fees. Additionally, his family can afford a healthy balanced diet as he has plenty of vegetables at his farm.

Frances Mutuku Kikuvi of New Kyambondo SHG on his farm"Amid the COVID-19 pandemic the economy has been very unstable, making most of us very worried about our finances. I have managed to stay afloat by selling the vegetables and tree nursery seedlings from my farm."

Francis Mutuku Kikuvi, member of New Kyambondo self-help group, southeast Kenya.

"Each day, I make sales amounting to 200KES (Kenyan Shillings) or 300 KES, which I save up for school fees, pocket money for my children, and tithes for the church. I also get surplus food from my produce for domestic consumption" he explains.

On his farm, hardworking Francis has an assortment of crops and fruit trees such as sweet potatoes, kales, spinach, onions, amaranth, papaya, mango trees, passion trees and citrus fruits. He dreams of one day expanding his farm, to increase his harvests and plant more crops using his newly abundant water supply.

Francis Mutuku Kikuvi of New Kyambondo SHG on his farm"Thanks to the trainings that we have received on smart agricultural practices, I believe I can expand my farm and plant more crops, which will boost my income and improve my living standards."

Francis Mutuku Kikuvi, member of New Kyambondo self-help group, southeast Kenya.

"I pray that God may grant me more strength to utilise the water well. I hope to one day purchase a generator that I can use to pump water through the farm, so that I can expand it and continue to apply the knowledge I have gained" says Francis.

As we concluded the interview, Francis humbly expressed his gratitude towards all the support that has been granted since the construction of the first sand dam project. Speaking for the community, he tells us that their lives have been bettered thanks to having access to clean drinking water, improvements to their hygiene and sanitation, and their farming practices now being more feasible than before.

"The lives of the community members of Kikamene are much better than they were. Now, everyone has a handwashing point at their home and can even make their own soap. Each member has a vegetable garden and we are all aware of the importance of environmental conservation, through planting trees and digging terraces at our farms. I am very grateful for the continuous support that Excellent Development and Africa Sand Dam Foundation have granted us" Francis articulated.

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