The Kithunthi self-help group was set up in 2012 by members of a rural Kenyan community, in an attempt to manage problems the community faced as a result of water scarcity. We met with two such members, Chairman Justus Mulu Kalenge, 44, and Vice Chairman Immaculate Nduku Kioko, 45, to discuss how the implementation of two sand dams has helped them achieve this goal so far.

Prior to the first construction in 2016, it was an everyday struggle to obtain water. The nearest source was a 5km walk away and fetchers faced lengthy queues once they reached it. “Life was hard” says Immaculate, “after you go back home you are late, you are tired, you can do nothing else, only finding water.” Wasted time took a massive toll on people’s lives.  Justus Mulu Kalenge, Chairman of Kithunthi self-help group.Justus explains “you can’t work at night, most hours have been drained in search of water, the other duties are abandoned.”

"You can’t work at night, most hours have been drained in search of water, the other duties are abandoned.”

Justus Mulu Kalenge, Chairman of Kithunthi self-help group, southeast Kenya.

This pressure has been massively reduced since the sand dam’s completion. “It takes only about 30 minutes from the river, the main source of the water, to back home, so life is easier than before,” says Immaculate. Now more time is spent on farming, terracing, irrigation and tree planting, and every household has a garden to provide fresh vegetables.

Another benefit is the huge increase in the quality of the water, which has drastically improved health conditions within the community. Describing the situation before, Justus says, “the river water is easily contaminated, so waterborne disease was the order of the day.” Things are different now. “We have also been trained on sanitation, how to take care of your water, after fetching it from the well, how to keep it safe, water treatment, washing hands.” Vice Chairman Immaculate Nduku Kioko of Kithunthi self-help group.Children are now taking less time off school due to illness and their overall health has improved as they develop and grow in a nourishing environment.

“It takes only about 30 minutes from the river, the main source of the water, to back home, so life is easier than before.”

Immaculate Nduku Kioko, Vice Chairman of Kithunthi self-help group, southeast Kenya.

Economic growth is another advancement currently being enjoyed by members of the community. They have received further training and learnt of opportunities to boost income through selling surplus crops at local markets. Immaculate has seen an annual increase of 50,000 Kenyan Shillings (about £385 GBP) thanks to the extra 150 orange trees she was able to grow, whilst Justus says he makes around 20,000 Kenyan Shillings (£154 GBP) surplus more than before. They hope that this money will secure a better future for their children. “With water, they’ll be doing their farming easier than us, so they’ll be living in a nicer world than me,” says Justus.

An overall feeling of gratitude is felt by the Kithunthi self-help group members towards the Africa Sand Dam Foundation and Excellent Development, as their “dreams have become a reality.” Immaculate ends our discussion saying “We are proud and we thank you.”

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