Upon visiting a southeast Kenyan community who have been benefiting from sand dams since 2014, Excellent’s Communications Manager, Dwain Lucktung, met with two farmers to discuss the impact on the people and their land.

“I think I look young (for my age) because of feeding on all the fresh vegetables and fresh produce on my farm.” 84 year old Wikwatyo wa Mativo self-help group member, Benjamin Molonzo, makes me smile, as he and 42 year old Chairlady, Winfred Peter, show me around their community’s impressive farms.

What I see is astounding. Fields of kale, spinach, papaya and banana trees, as far as my eyes can see. Who would have thought this could have been the case five years ago...

Winfred and Benjamin tell me they congregated with the Wikwatyo group of farmers in 2014 to resolve their serious shortage of clean water. Benjamin MolonzoBenjamin says: “Life was not easy before we constructed the sand dams because we used to depend on the rains, of which they were not promising.”

“I think I look young (for my age) because of feeding on all the fresh vegetables and fresh produce on my farm.”

Benjamin Molonzo, member of Wikwatyo wa Mativo self-help group, southeast Kenya.

Any water the group could collect had to be from using scoop holes from the local River Tawa, but the water was never sufficient, contaminated, with drastic effects on the group’s health and farming. Benjamin concurs: “Before, the land was just bare. What was growing was just grass, so I just fed my animals.”

This all changed following the group’s sand dam projects, as well as climate-smart farming activities - the latter delivered by our partners in southeast Kenya, the Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF), and funded by the Isle of Man Government.

Winfred says: “We were so grateful for the support. ASDF offered us different agricultural trainings. First in soil conservation where we were trained how to do terracing, how to establish tree nurseries and how to grow trees. We were also trained in crop rotation and production, and we have really been utilising the water from the sand dam to grow our crops.”

Winfred PeterNow the community are in a position to grow different vegetables and trees like papayas, mangoes and bananas, further fruits and vegetables like watermelon, kales, spinach, beans and many others.

“Food security in the community is going to improve. I can picture ahead that most of the plots here, the land here, will be green with crops.”

Winfred Peter, Chairlady of Wikwatyo wa Mativo self-help group, southeast Kenya.

They have grown so much, that aside from their own health benefits, they have been able to sell ample surplus produce at local markets. Benjamin revels in telling me how in February 2019, he used the 100,000 Kenyan shillings (around £770) he had made and saved to “buy a small car; one I am using to transfer my farm produce to the market.”

Winfred meanwhile asserts that “life will be different for my children and grandchildren” – as she and other community members are investing their farming income on improving their standards of living, their homes, as well as using the money to pay for school fees and educational materials for the next generation.

In the next five years she says: “Food security in the community is going to improve. I can picture ahead that most of the plots here, the land here, will be green with crops.”

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