Published in August 2022

The opportunities of community members in southeast Kenya are often hampered by water scarcity. We spoke with two farmers from Muthini wa Upendo self-help group to learn how a sand dam project is helping them to realise their ambitions.

46-year-old Ruth Syanda and 52-year-old Agnes Mwansami are both members of the Muthini wa Upendo self-help group (SHG), which is based in both the Mutini and Ngomeni villages of Kitui County, southeast Kenya.

This group was founded by the community members to tackle water scarcity and food insecurity, which were persistent problems for the community. In the past, farming activities were a great challenge for the group members due to the lack of available water in the area. Crops would often fail in the hot and dry climate while livestock suffered from dehydration and malnutrition. Community members would frequently have little time or energy available for farming because they spent most of their time searching for water, sometimes returning home late and exhausted.

Agnes Mwansami of Muthini Upendo SHG - southeast Kenya"We used to walk for several kilometres searching for water and occasionally even had to buy it from local vendors, which was extremely costly considering the community’s low levels of income."

Agnes Mwansami, member of Muthini wa Upendo self-help group, southeast Kenya.

Syanda added to this by explaining that the task of water collection would often fall to children, leading many to miss school in order to fetch water for the family. Water shortages also negatively affected income levels as farmers found themselves unable to grow much surplus produce to sell at local markets. This is an ambition of many farmers in the region that is made all the more challenging by water scarcity.

However, thanks to the recent completion of a sand dam and shallow well project, supported by Sand Dams Worldwide, the Africa Sand Dam Foundation, and generously funded by Schroders PLC, the Muthini wa Upendo community now has a reliable source of sufficient water for their needs. With the water supplied by this project, new possibilities are now opening up for the community members to improve their livelihoods.

Agnes expressed her happiness at the completion of the project, explaining to us that many community members are now able to grow a wider range of crops than they could before.

Syanda also told us of the impacts of the project on her life, sharing her plans for the future that have been made possible by the project.

Ruth Syanda of Muthini Upendo SHG - southeast Kenya"With the completion of this project, the water table has risen and I intend to plant onions, kales, spinach and various crops for subsistence purposes and later for sale."

Ruth Syanda, member of Muthini wa Upendo self-help group, southeast Kenya.

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