Sand Dams Worldwide has been working with the Lekurruki Conservation Trust (LCT) in northern Kenya since 2015. Between then and now (August 2018) we have enabled the construction of nine sand dams in the area. We have had to adapt our development model of the communities contributing to the project through acting as labourers on site, as these are pastoral communities and not settled communities in the same way they are in southeast Kenya, therefore the self-help group model is not applicable here. As a result, we employ local labourers at a standard casual laborer rate from the pastoralist communities nearby to assist with the construction work. LCT’s Water Resources Manager recently caught up with some of them to find out the impact that constructing the sand dams has had on their lives...

David Parmashu is a father of three children, two of whom are of school age. David put the income he earned through constructing sand dams towards paying the fees for his children to go to school, and towards buying their school uniforms. He tells us that this has led to them attending school every day. David and his wife can now also afford to put more varieties of food on the table, rather than relying on one crop alone. This ensures that the children are able to concentrate better in school, generating a much brighter future ahead for them. David also tells us that his family has now saved up enough to buy the necessary medications in case any of them fall ill. They would no longer have to sell any livestock to pay for the treatment.

Casual workers and community mobilizers at the sand dam site.

William Olemoile lives in the Iltrim zone in the Conservancy. He has noticed a dramatic improvement in the health of his livestock since he first worked on the project. The income that he earned was put towards buying de-worming tablets and salt licks. Not only has this improved his pastureland, his livestock’s nutrition and general health, but this has also helped him to increase the overall size of his herds, essential for developing his livelihood as a farmer.

Peter Leorso has helped in the construction of several sand dams in Lekurruki. He says that the income he was able to generate allowed him to pay for his marriage fees, as per the custom of Maasai marriage. Firstly a fee of 10,000 shillings is paid by the groom, before he buys maasai shuka (traditional Maasai robes) for the elders. Before the wedding the groom is also responsible for buying tea and sugar to make a traditional drink for everyone. All of these costs together can set the groom back the equivalent of over £100, making it a very costly affair in rural Kenya. Peter invested his remaining earnings in livestock, which should boost his family’s status, and provide financial stability for his future children.

Being able to earn enough to buy a goat or even a cow over the few short weeks it takes to build a sand dam can significantly improve the prospects of local farmers. Yet the economic benefits of employment on a sand dam site stretch further than to just those employed there. Many labourers pay other villagers to tend to their herds while they are away at the dam site, helping to boost their own incomes. For the pastoralist communities living in the Lekurruki conservancy, the importance of the extra incomes generated through sand dam construction cannot be underestimated. Paying children’s school fees, and investing in varied diets, are vitally important for children to fulfil their academic potential. Buying extra livestock and ensuring they are kept healthy is also a great way for farmers to invest in their future.

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 and livestock with clean water for life.

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