Excellent's strategic partners, Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF), provide the latest updates from a dryland community that is seeing vast impact thanks to recently built sand dams...

Mumo wa Mwambui self-help group (SHG) is found in Mwambui village, Katuluni location of Waita Division in Kitui county. The area is classified as an arid and semi-arid land experiencing little rainfall and prolonged dry seasons.

Water problems in the area were persistent, disrupting the group’s activities as members spent more time in search of water, thus staying away from other progressive activities. Locals decided to come together to form the group, meeting with ASDF and other groups, in a bid to increase their resources, to enable implementation of development projects, and in turn, to help alleviate the water crisis in the area.

Through support from ASDF and Excellent Development, Mumo wa Mwambui SHG has so far constructed two sand dams and shallow wells in their region (the latest of which was funded by the Isle of Man Government).Esther Munanie, Mumo wa Mwambui self-help groups chair The sand dam projects have solved the majority of water problems experienced in the area; with many residents sharing their success stories.

"We used to walk to Kamuwongo river 4km away in search of water... This made water pursuit a full day activity, as nothing else could be done after getting back home tired."

Esther Munanie, Chair, Mumo wa Mwambui self-help group.

Esther Munanie, aged 48, serves as the group chair and opens up on life before and after the sand dams:

"We used to walk to Kamuwongo river 4km away in search of water, which was available in deep scoop holes dug at the channel. I would wake up at 6:00am in the morning, walk to the river for two hours. Queuing was relative to the number of people available, but it usually took two hours, with another two hours for walking home. This made water pursuit a full day activity, as nothing else could be done after getting back home tired" says Mrs Munanie.

The dams have helped provide water for many locals and cattle, bringing back lost glory in the largely dry area.

"We are now able to sell water from the shallow wells, earning us around 21,000 Katwii Mwangangi, Mumo wa Mwambui self-help group memberKenyan shillings cumulatively as savings. In addition, our cattle now have enough drinking water from within the village without walking for the long distances, which sometimes made them contract diseases" adds the group chair.

"I managed to harvest finger millet and cowpeas in the last rains from my farm, which will help in feeding my grandchildren."

Katwii Mwangangi, Mumo wa Mwambui self-help group member.

Katwii Mwangangi, aged 67, has been a member of the group since its inception. She has a wealth of knowledge on the dynamics of the group and local life at large:

"I have known the importance of planting trees through ASDF. We had a group tree nursery with the trees being distributed among individual members for planting at our homes; I planted mine and the survival rate is good.

"Many group members have adopted the terracing culture which is enabling harvests even in the low rainfall experienced in our area; I managed to harvest finger millet and cowpeas in the last rains from my farm, which will help in feeding my grandchildren," says Mrs Mwangangi.

The group continue to thrive, and Excellent look forward to hearing from them in coming months.

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