Published in January 2015

Thanks to the people of the Isle of Man, over 70,000 subsistence farmers in the drylands of Kenya are transforming their own lives.

The Manx people are our most generous donors. In 10 years, they have donated £600,000 through their Government’s International Development Committee.

Their continual support has enabled 23 smallholder farming communities in drylands to build 41 sand dams - the best way to catch and store rainwater in drought-prone places. Through these simple and brilliant structures, families supported by the Manx people have overcome acute water and food shortages.

Our (former) Executive Director Simon Maddrell said: "It is fitting that the Manx people have supported farmers in drylands to transform their lives - not just because it is part of my own Manx family heritage, but also because every Manx person can empathise with the resilience and pride of farmers and how worthy they are of our support."

Access to water

In rural Kenya, women and girls spend an average of six hours collecting water each day. This means carrying 20kg (almost 45lb) of water over long distances, often in the harsh heat and dust of the mid-day sun. It leaves little time to farm or attend school. On top of that, the water is usually dirty, threatening family health.

The sand dams enabled by the Manx people have brought clean water close to homes, lifting the burden of water scarcity and creating opportunities for over 70,000 people to overcome poverty with dignity.

Ngui Nduta, a member of a self-help group supported by the Isle of Man, said: "Time we used to fetch water has reduced immensely. Now we spend less than one hour to fetch water."

"In ten years, the Manx people have helped transform the lives of 73,393 people. By next year that number will match the entire population of the Isle of Man. Just think of that. For every person living on the Isle of Man there is a person in rural Kenya who's life has been transformed - all because of them.”

Simon Maddrell, former Executive Director, Excellent Development.

Improved farming

With water and time now available, families are able to grow more food. Our partners in Kenya, Africa Sand Dam Foundation, provide the tools and agricultural knowledge that enable people to make the most of their hard work.

Lois Masila, a member of a community supported by the Isle of Man, said: "My farm, which is four acres, takes care of 15 people. I used to plant maize, cowpeas and green grams. Despite working hard on the farm, the amount of harvest was not enough to [support my] family. [Now] I have improved the variety of crops that I can grow…I also have learned how to intercrop these crops and dig terraces, among other things. I was able to harvest more from the farm last season due to these new practices."

"We face lots of challenges...but we are fighting poverty by growing vegetables. We will sell the surplus and earn an income to pay school fees...don't even mention how happy I am. I am very, very happy."

Patricia Ndambuki, Star ya Thange self-help group, Kenya.

The support of the Manx people is a kick-start, not a handout. Families in rural Kenya are making the very best of the opportunity created by sand dams, and working hard to transform their lives through farming, and education for their children.

Patricia Ndambuki, a member of another community supported by the Isle of Man, told us: "We face lots of challenges… but we are fighting poverty by growing vegetables. We will sell the surplus and earn income to pay school fees… don’t even mention how happy I am. I am very, very happy."

Thank you

Simon Maddrell said: "In 10 years, the Manx people have helped transform the lives of 73,393 people. By next year that number will match the entire population of the Isle of Man. Just think of that. For every person living on the Isle of Man there is a person in rural Kenya who's life has been transformed - all because of them."

On behalf of the farming communities we support, we would like thank the Manx people and Isle of Man Government for their generosity and continual commitment to subsistence farmers in the world’s drylands. 

Please donate what you can to continue transforming lives with sand dams

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