Titolai Moile and her community’s lives are ruled by one simple thing: the availability of water. They belong to the Mukogodo Maasai: a pastoralist tribe in Lekurruki that has moved with their livestock in tune with the seasons for decades. But in recent years, these journeys have become ever more difficult, as water and pasture have become scarce at any time of year, due to persistent droughts and land degradation. Now, a sand dam is providing a kick start for this community.

Money for education

Titolai and other people in the community long to stay in one place, start small-scale farming and see their children getting an education. While the men still have no choice but to migrate with their livestock in search for water and grazing grounds, some of the women have stayed and formed the women’s beading group. They sell their hand-made bags to tourists along the roadside and in the gift shops of local resorts, trying to make enough money to send their children to school. But things have not been easy. Titolai explains:

“Now the kids aren't going to school either, because the local spring has dried up completely and they have to get water for the school from elsewhere. Titolai Moile, Lekurruki womens beaders group, Northern KenyaSo they get up, get water and take it to school, but by the time they get there it is very late and time to go home. We are just hoping that it will rain.”

"Each woman carries 25 Litres on every trip. We use it for two days and try to minimise the water we use, then we go again."

Titolai Moile, Lekurruki women's beaders group, Northern Kenya.

Searching for water takes time and energy

Women and children have to walk three hours each way to the next freshwater spring and there’s only so much they can carry, so the trip needs to be made every other day. “Each woman carries 25 litres on every trip (the children less). We use it for two days and try to minimise the water we use, then we go again.” Titolai explains. (In the UK, the average water usage per person is 150 litres per day).

The enormous amount of time spent collecting water, and lack of time for other activities, is leading to chronic poverty, which again is having an impact on the children’s education. Titolai says:

“This school is run by the community. Sometimes the teacher doesn't get paid for 2 to 3 months and that makes her delayed coming to school, because she is not getting paid. When you go around and collect contributions for the teacher’s salary, people say they have no income.”

Time for change

In early 2015, Sand Dams Worldwide started building the first sand dam in this area. It is one of many sand dams that will provide safe drinking water for the Mukogodo Maasai all year round and with it, a kick start for improved livestock management, farming, income generation and education.

Please consider making a donation today to enable more pastoralist communities to extend the network of sand dams in the Northern Rangelands, providing their families, neighbours, livestock as well as wildlife with clean water for life.