Published in November 2022

The conditions imposed by water scarcity leave many in southeast Kenya with no time or energy to lift themselves out of poverty. Speaking with a member of the Taa wa Kiukuni self-help group, we hear how a sand dam project helps to break the cycle of poverty and gives people the chance to improve their own lives.

In the Kandulyu village of Machakos county, southeast Kenya, we meet Queen Mumbe, a 22-year-old mother of one. In addition to caring for her young child, she also takes care of her elderly mother, who has recently been suffering with a physical injury.

Mumbe is a member of the Taa Wa Kiukuni self-help group (SHG), which she joined with the aim of pulling together with her community to end water scarcity in the area. She tells us, "As a group, we came together, sat down, and discussed ways in which we can engage ourselves in improving the water situation locally. For years we have suffered a lot from walking several kilometers every day to get water, which is not even very safe or clean. The river is far away and the path is rocky, posing dangers to those making the journey."

Queen Mumbe - member of the Taa wa Kiukuni SHG"Every day for a community member here is a busy day. One needs to wake up at around 5am to prepare children for school before getting ready for the walk to collect water. It is not a nice experience, although it has been our norm here."

Queen Mumbe, member of the Taa wa Kiukuni self-help group, southeast Kenya.

She further explains that upon arriving at the river, people would then have to queue at the collection point. The waiting time here could be very long, depending on the number of people at the river, adding to the burden of this task.

Water from the river collection point was not always very clean and, in the recent past, community members have suffered from waterborne diseases (such as Cholera) as a result of drinking it. Mumbe reveals that community members have often had to visit the hospital with stomach complications that arose because of drinking dirty water.

One of the hardest challenges facing the SHG was maintaining engagement from the community amidst all of this struggle. When the time came that they began working with the Africa Sand Dam Foundation, our partners in southeast Kenya, a high level of community engagement was needed to source the materials for their sand dam project. However, thanks to a great effort by the community and with strong investment from many local people, the SHG were able to complete construction of their first sand dam in April 2022.

While they wait for the rainy season to fill the dam, the community now have renewed optimism for their lives with a sand dam nearby. Mumbe tells us that she is already making plans for her future farming efforts, through which she intends to use the sand dam water to grow new produce, such as papayas, mangoes, and oranges. She hopes to be able to produce enough surplus from farming these fruits to sell at market, providing her with an improved source of income and meaning that her child can look forward to a brighter future.

Queen Mumbe - member of the Taa wa Kiukuni SHG"I am elated to see our work on the sand dam completed. The water provided by the dam gives me new hope for tomorrow."

Queen Mumbe, member of the Taa wa Kiukuni self-help group, southeast Kenya.

Mumbe tells us that she now sleeps easier, knowing that she and her family can enjoy having a clean and reliable water source in the future. She finishes the interview by saying "We are hugely thankful for this initiative and for those who have supported it."

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