Sand Dams Worldwide's Emily Brewster, sees first-hand the transformational impact a sand dam has made on a rural Kenyan community.

The dirt road down to Muuo wa Kasyomatu self-help group's sand dam is winding, bumpy and the land either side is bone-dry. There isn't much plant life, except for a few hardy scrub plants nibbled at by the odd passing goat. This doesn't look like an area that can produce anything like enough food for the people that live here.

But when we get out of our vehicle at the end of the road, it is a different story entirely. We see fields and fields of huge bright green crops. A woman calmly tills the land, pausing only briefly to wave hello to us, before returning to her work.

We walk a short way and find the handpump connected to the dam which has allowed all of these crops to grow so healthily. We each take a turn on the pump, marvelling at the clear water that flows easily out of it.

At the dam itself, we come across a man with his two donkeys, each carrying jerry cans filled with water. Before the dam, they would have faced a very long walk home every day after going out to collect water, but now this community has a source of clean water within a short walk from their homes.

"Even we couldn’t work on this farm because there wasn't water. And when it (the dam) was made, we started the work here. Now you can see how it is. We are very, very grateful about this water."

Joyce Malonza, member of the Muuo wa Kasyomatu self-help group.

We proceed to the far riverbank, to admire the extensive farming work on that side, all enabled by the group's sand dam. Here there are picturesque hills on all sides, and we are faced with acres of watermelons, spinach and tomatoes, some being tended to by members of the community. We stop to talk to Joyce Malonza, who is a member of the self-help group that built the dam. She tells me: "Before the dam was built, there was no water here. No water at all. Even we couldn’t work on this farm because there wasn’t water. And when it (the dam) was made, we started the work here. Now you can see how it is. We are very, very grateful about this water."

Before the dam, Joyce would walk 2-3km to collect water. She tells me that, "now, water is sufficient here... We have water all the time". So sufficient in fact, that the land is teeming with vegetables! When I ask her if life has improved, she tells me: "Yes it has improved, in fact it has improved very, very much, because now we’ve got vegetables. If you go up this way (she points), people have got a lot of vegetables here along the river, because of the water."

Muuo wa Kasyomatu are now doing so well with their farming, that during our visit, buyers arrived to come and choose the crops they wanted to buy. This means extra income each month, vital for everyday essentials, from food to school fees. We also found out that many of the group members weren’t around because they were busy building their second sand dam nearby – using water for construction from their first dam.

This is truly a community lifting themselves out of poverty, one sand dam at a time.

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