Following the completion of the Kitagezi sand dam in the Oldonyiro Conservancy in the Northern Rangelands of Kenya, the Sand Dams Worldwide Programmes team spoke to the community to discover what difference it has made to their lives.

One of the women in the community, Nabore Leyasuyan, told us that “we only received two days of rain last rainy season. Despite this, we are still able to access water from this sand dam now [four months after the rains].”

This was a vast improvement on the situation last year. “Our previous source of water was nearby, but it did not last very long after the rains. Once it dried up we would have to walk for over 6km to fetch water. The water that we collected from that source was saline, which caused a lot of health issues in our livestock.”

Collecting water in the Northern Rangelands in Kenya is an entirely communal activity. Rather than individual households collecting their water, the women of the community come to the water source together to collect water for every household. This means that they collect around 100 jerry cans (each holds 20 litres of water) between them. This process used to take them around five hours, but now that they are collecting water from their sand dam, this time has reduced to less than one hour.

The local women now have more time to spend on domestic activities such as cooking, collecting firewood and looking after the elderly members of the community, who are less able to care for themselves.

Another distinct advantage of the sand dams is that the community now have access to clean water for their livestock, a more abundant supply of water, and more time to tend to their flocks. The importance of livestock to pastoralist communities cannot be understated. As Nabore says:

Nabore Leasuyan - Kitagezi sand dam

“The sand dam allows us to keep more livestock, this means that we have greater income and greater security in times of drought.”

Nabore Leyasuyan, pastoralist from Oldonyiro Conservancy, Northern Kenya.

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