Published in January 2024

Faced with water scarcity and an unreliable climate, farmers in rural Mozambique can find themselves struggling to find the answers to the challenges posed by these conditions. Two members of the Tsandzabue community spoke with us about how their sand dam project has not only helped to provide the resources they were lacking, but also taught them how to find long-term solutions to their problems.

In the Tsandzabue community, reliable access to water was a longstanding problem before they began working with the Micaia Foundation (our partners in Mozambique). Since constructing their sand dam in 2023, community members such as Juvenico Joao (pictured right) have begun to see changes in their lives.

Juvenico Joao - member of the Tsandzabue community

Juvenico, a father of seven, expressed to us how thrilled he was when he heard that a sand dam project would be taking place in his community. He shares that his wife and children used to spend many hours each day fetching water, so learning that there was a solution to their water problems was an exciting prospect.

These feelings motivated Juvenico to strongly engage with the construction process alongside other members of his community. He tells us that he learned many new things during this time, in particular how the sand dam would bring change to Tsandzabue. Armed with this knowledge, he began making plans to open a vegetable garden in his home. In the coming weeks and months he plans to grow produce for his family to eat, but also to sell to other local people for an income.

One of the most important learning experiences that Juvenico says he had was during the agroforestry training delivered by the Micaia team. Being trained in how to combine different types of trees species and crops in the same plot, in order to improve soil fertility, led Juvenico to set up an agroforestry demo plot that now has both trees and sorghum plants growing in it.

Today, Juvenico is a lead farmer in Tsandzabue, having been trained in a variety of sustainable agricultural methods that have improved his farming yields. Now he disseminates these lessons to other local farmers, taking great pride in being able to share his knowledge and influence the lives of people in his community.

Mafita Muandipandussa, another member of the Tsandzabue community, had a slightly different experience during the sand dam project. At first she was not able to engage with dam construction as she was too busy looking after her vegetable garden, though she would pass the dam site each day on her way to sell produce at the nearby markets.

When passing through, Mafita would often sell some of her tomatoes to the construction team at the site. The more she stopped to speak with them, the more she learned about the value of the sand dam and the benefits it could bring, particularly during the dry seasons. As she learned more each day, she began to see the importance of participating in the project.

“I started participating with the other women who came to build the sand dam as I was given hope that we could have more water in the community” she tells us. “I plan to use the water to continue my tomato production because it is an important source of income for me.”

Mafita also shares how the trainings she has engaged with have been particularly useful for her.

Mafita Muandipandussa - member of the Tsandzabue community“I am now learning from our lead farmer, who has a demo plot along the road, and I see good things. I am hoping to improve my gardening skills so that I can continue to make income for my family.”

Mafita Muandipandussa, member of the Tsandzabue community, Mozambique.

Not only has Mafita been a recipient of training, but she now has a key role in training other members of her community. “The community chose me to be a member of the water committee since I participated in the WASH training session conducted by Micaia. Now I teach people about hygiene and sanitation myself!”

Mafita and Juvenico’s stories exemplify how the lessons learned during a sand dam project can have a great impact on whole communities, equipping them with vital skills that will serve them in years to come.

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