One of the realities of water scarcity is that it greatly restricts the types of plants that farmers can grow. Add a sand dam to this scenario, as the Kyandani self-help group have successfully done in southeast Kenya, and new options emerge that can enable a more varied diet and improve nutrition in the communtiy.

The Kyandani village is found in the Waita sub-location of Kitui county. The area receives little rainfall throughout the year, leading to perennial issues with drought and famine for the community members.

United by a common need for adequate water for their everyday needs, locals from the village came together and formed the Kyandani self-help group with the aim of working together to alleviate the water crisis in the area. The community group has been supported by Excellent Development, in collaboration with local partners, the Africa Sand Dam Foundation, in the completion of a sand dam and shallow well water project at the heart of the village.

Paul Mwenga, 60, is a father of five and has been serving as the group's chairperson. He shares his experiences of living in the area and the change of fortunes he has witnessed since the construction of a sand dam and shallow well in the local area.

"I was born and brought up in this area and getting water has always been the biggest challenge facing us. I would often wake up early at 5:00am and walk for more than three kilometres up to Kamunyu River with donkeys to fetch water from river scoop holes," he explained.

Paul Mwenga - Chairperson of Kyandani SHG"Sometimes there were long queues at the river channel, which would lead to hours of waiting before being able to get the water I came for."

Paul Mwenga, Chairperson of Kyandani self-help group, southeast Kenya.

Paul continues by detailing the changes that have occurred for him and his community since they completed their water project.

"Things have changed since the implementation of this amazing water project; our community now enjoys an unlimited water supply from the sand dam and the shallow well" says Mr Mwenga.

Of the impact of the project on his own farming activities, Paul tells us: "I have utilized the new water resource provided by the sand dam to engage in irrigation farming, which is improving the eating habits of my family while also earning me income. I have grown kales, spinach, bananas, and papayas using the dam water - and all of them are doing well." 

Paul Mwenga - Chairperson of Kyandani SHG"My children enjoy the diversity of meals that are enabled by the range of produce we can now grow; this varied diet was never possible in the past because we lacked sufficient water to grow certain plants."

Paul Mwenga, Chairperson of Kyandani self-help group, southeast Kenya.

The Kyandani community group remains thankful to the Africa Sand Dam Foundation, Excellent Development, and to donors for their support in the implementation of the water project. They remain committed towards working on more water projects in their area in the future.

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