Excellent Development's Programmes Officer, Callum Sheehan, reports on recent evaluations that illustrate how drylands communities supported by sand dams are seeing an increase in household income...

One of the cornerstones of poverty alleviation is for those in poverty to be able to make a reliable income for themselves and their families. This allows communities and individuals to work their own way out of poverty with dignity, and to create their own future, be that working in agriculture, entrepreneurship or employment. Recent evaluations have highlighted the contributions that Excellent Development, their partners and the groups they work with are making to achieve this goal.

Excellent Development work with our partner organisation the Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF) to help create opportunities for greater income generation for those living in poverty in rural Kenya. Through agricultural training and initial investments of seeds and trees, Excellent and ASDF help communities to generate greater crop yields, in turn creating greater incomes for local farmers.

By assisting communities to build their own sand dams, local people have access to water, but also to that other most valuable of resources – time. Prior to sand dams being built, individuals (most often women) would be forced to spend up to 11 hours a day collecting water, leaving no time or energy for much else. Now, when before they were collecting water, individuals and Self-Help Groups (SHGs) are able to focus on income generative activities.

Common activities for SHGs include soap making (a skill taught as part of Excellent’s hygiene training), growing and selling vegetables, and even selling water collected from their sand dams. This increase in income can be used to maintain and repair pump mechanisms on their dams, and help to diversify the varieties of crops farmed as well. SHG incomes have consistently increased month on month over the past few years, demonstrating the hard work and motivation of those involved. The total income generated by SHGs currently stands at 8,629,000 Kenyan shillings – that’s over £66,000! This is increasing by an average of £1600 each month.

Furthermore, the sources of income for the SHGs have become more and more diverse over the years, ensuring sustainability of income and guarding against unforeseen difficulties.

"Since 2015, the number of households running their own business has doubled, highlighting the increase in the development of new ventures. This is in no small part due to the increased time available to them, thanks to the easier collection of water from sand dams."

Callum Sheehan, Programmes Officer, Excellent Development

The increase in incomes is evident for individual households, as well as SHGs. Evaluation has shown that since working with Excellent and ASDF, over 80% of individuals have seen an increase in their household incomes. The main reasons given for this change are the increase in yields of farmer’s crops, and the development of new ventures. Increase in crop yields is a direct result of Excellent and ASDF’s agricultural training, as well as the greater access to water provided by sand dams which can be used to irrigate farms.

Since 2015, the number of households running their own business has doubled, highlighting the increase in the development of new ventures. This is in no small part due to the opportunities that easier collection of water from sand dams provides.

Excellent Development and ASDF will continue to support such motivated, hardworking groups and individuals working tirelessly to transform their own lives.

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