Lacking a source of clean water can have a profound impact on the health of communities, either due to dehydration or waterborne diseases from drinking dirty water. Two members of the Kyekuyu self-help group (SHG) reveal to us how health has improved in their communities since the building of their sand dam.

Tell us about yourselves, your families and your roles within your SHG...

Rose: I am Rose Wambua, I am 59 years old, I have 5 children and 8 grandchildren and I am the Treasurer of Kyekuyu SHG.

Julius: I am Julius Muteti, father of two, I am 40 years old and I am the Vice Secretary of Kyekuyu SHG. 

When did the self-help group establish itself and why was it established? What was the motivation for coming together as a community?

Julius: It started as a SHG two years back, in 2017. We came together due to a severe lack of water as we had no opportunity to fetch water easily. We also needed assistance as we were hoping to start small-scale planting of vegetables. We are a group that the Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF) assisted a lot. 

Rose, what was life like before the sand dam? Can you describe a typical day? 

Rose: Before we constructed the dam, my duty was only fetching water. Life was not easy because I used to wake very early in the morning to come and queue for water. It was a big challenge because whenever I came to fetch the water we had very long queues. I really am grateful to ASDF, the donors, and Sand Dams Worldwide because now whenever I come to the river to get water I take very little time and can go home to tend to other duties.

Julius, where did you used to fetch water from and how long did it take you to get the water and bring it home?

Julius: Before the dam we used to follow the river then dig directly in the centre of it either using a spade or our hands, but this was a slow process. If you went, let’s say at 8am, you could even take around 4-5 hours to get water. The water could also be very salty.

Rose, what were the negative effects of having to walk long distances for water for you and your family?

Rose: Life was not easy for me before the construction of the sand dam. I spent a long time fetching water. Even my cattle’s health, all the livestock’s health, were not good because I used to wake up very early in the morning to go to the river to queue for water. When I arrived back home it was already late and the animals were not well grazed. Also, most of the time, we used to skip lunch because I would arrive back after lunchtime.

Julius, did you or anyone in your family ever experience water-borne illnesses from drinking the water from the river?

Julius: Not really in my family, but we experienced it in the village area. We had cases of typhoid and cholera in our area. The doctor’s report claimed that these were due to that water from the river, so you can see that it had a side effect before. 

Julius Muteti - Kyekuyu SHG

"Before we understood that it was due to this water or that the cholera was in our area, children often suffered and missed school. So now we are really happy simply because the water from the sand dam is there, available, and clean."

Julius Muteti, Vice Secretary of Kyekuyu self-help group, southeast Kenya.

Rose, what animals do you have and how are they benefiting from the water?

Rose: I have two cows and ten goats. Health-wise they are improving because I only need to drive them to the sand dam, where they can drink the water. Sometimes I also fetch water for the animals, so I am sure there is going to be an improvement. Maybe I will rear more cows and goats.

Rose, how are things different now for your children and grandchildren? How will things be different for them in comparison to how it was for you as a child, because of the clean water and sand dam?

Rose: Together with my husband and children, there is already an improvement because in the past my children sometimes used to complain of stomach aches as a result of the water, but now this has been reduced.

Rose Wambua - Kyekuyu SHG

"In the future we are assuming that there is going to be a great improvement in our income because, with the clean water, we will not need to be attending the hospital often. Sometimes we had to spend some money to treat ourselves and the children, so there is going to be great improvement."

Rose Wambua, Treasurer of Kyekuyu self-help group, southeast Kenya.

Sand dams enable rural dryland farmers to transform their own lives, reducing the time and effort spent on collecting water so that communities can focus on developing sustainable futures. Please donate to help more rural people invest in their own livelihoods, and become self-sustaining for generations to come.