Following the story of Felix Mbuvi from the Kyamukulu self-help group in southeast Kenya, we learn how sand dam water can provide a vital tool for local environmental conservation efforts.

Felix Mbuvi, a 35-year-old father of two, is a beneficiary of a sand dam constructed by the Kyamukulu self-help group. This group are based in the Ngangani Village in Machakos county, in southeast Kenya.

Over the years, Felix and other locals of Ngangani village have been experiencing challenges with accessing water for irrigation, basic household chores, and for their livestock. These circumstances were greatly contributed to by the adverse climatic conditions experienced in the region, as well as the seasonal nature of the local rivers. It is for this reason that Felix joined the Kyamukulu self-help group, to construct sand dams that would help put an end to the struggles of water scarcity.

Felix took the time to share his story with us, in addition to that of the wider community. Speaking about the time before they had completed any sand dam projects, he told us of the difficulties presented by inconsistent rainfall in the region.

"Once August arrived, the rivers here would run totally dry and the challenge of fetching water would begin."

Felix Mbuvi of Kyamukulu SHG - southeast Kenya"I used to walk for very long distances in search of water. At times I had to purchase water, which was very costly. Now, the sand dam that we constructed is providing access to an adequate water supply for the entire community."

Felix Mbuvi, member of Kyamukulu self-help group, southeast Kenya.

Felix continued to elaborate on the impact of the sand dam projects for the community. "Thanks to the three sand dam projects that we have constructed in our village, we can now access water for farming, drinking, and for administering proper hygiene and sanitation at our homes. The diseases that most community members used to complain about, such as typhoid and amoeba, are now a total bygone. The water we fetch is clean and well protected from contaminants" he added.

Felix is known as "the Professor" by his friends in the village and has utilized the water from the sand dam projects to establish a tree nursery project. Taking inspiration from the late Professor Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmental activist, Felix has managed to explore his passion for environmental conservation and tree planting thanks to the water provided by the sand dam projects. His devotion to trees has drawn many local people to him, particularly those who plan to plant trees at their own homesteads, who approach him for his expertise or to purchase seedlings from his farm.

Felix shared what this meant to him, telling us that "The availability of water has played a major role in driving the expansion of the tree nursery project, a dream which I have been nurturing for the past seven years. Over time, I have honed my tree planting and grafting skills, which have earned me client loyalty among all the community members. At my farm, I have a variety of tree seedlings for mangoes, oranges, papaya, neem trees and senna siamea. The prices of these seedlings vary depending on their size and maturity. I have also planted kales, cassavas and bananas for domestic use" Felix noted.

"The large mango seedlings go for KES 100 (Kenyan Shillings), while the small ones go for KES 50. The oranges sell at KES 50 each and the papayas at KES 20 each. The prices of the timber and shade trees all go for KES 20. Each year, I aim to plant and sell more than 5000 trees" he explained.

Felix expressed his gratitude towards the donors whose support was instrumental in the implementation of the sand dam projects, jovially claiming that the availability of water has improved his living standards.

Felix Mbuvi of Kyamukulu SHG - southeast Kenya"Through these water projects, I can manage to live a comfortable life, feed my family and also educate my children. I am very grateful for the continuous support."

Felix Mbuvi, member of Kyamukulu self-help group, southeast Kenya.

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