Former Sand Dams Worldwide Executive Director, Simon Maddrell, visited Kenya in May 2014 to meet some of the communities we support there. He was delighted to see an outstanding return on our donors’ investment at the Star Ya Thange self-help group in Makueni District.

In 2013, our partners, the Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF), provided the group with 8kg of cowpea seeds and 4kg of green grams (mung beans) for their communal farming plot.Star ya Thange self-help group in southeast Kenya

This donation was made on the basis that the group would return twice as much to their shared seed store the following year. One year later they have harvested 2,300kg cowpeas and 450kg of green grams - that's a 28,000% and 11,000% return on investment respectively! 

The group has earned 194,000 Kenyan Shillings (£1,500) from selling surplus seeds to ASDF’s own seed bank programme - and still have an amazing half a million Kenyan Shillings of stock - that's £4,000.

Every amazing achievement usually has its secret and Elisabeth Ndungwa Kin'goo, Chair of the group, explains "the construction of the sand dams has given us the seeds that you see here today." 

Because of the sand dams they constructed, the 35 women and two men of the Star Ya Thange self-help group no longer need to spend the majority of their waking hours searching for water.

With water close by, they have been able to invest the time the save in their communal farming plot, working hard to make their seed programme a success. With the income generated, they have been able to invest in a water pump to irrigate their land from one of the sand dams.

This is producing an outstanding harvest. They are now even growing papaya fruit, for the first time in the region.

Planning ahead, the group are now starting a goat improvement programme - using a cross bread of Swiss Toggenburg goats - to improve the local goat stock and milk production. They have eight offspring already.

The great thing with our holistic approach is that nothing gets wasted. The threshings from their bumper cowpea harvest are a perfect fodder to keep the young goats strong and healthy.

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