This project is being implemented by our partner African Sand Dam Foundation, and includes the construction of a hand-dug well.
The group was formed in the year 9/11/2011. Muuo wa Metho Uvini means “Peace of the eyes”. The place was first believed to be inhabited by buffaloes which would hide from the bushes thus looking at the residents from the bushes with scary eyes. It was funny since the buffaloes did not attack them. The group was formed after 68 households came together to start the group. The main reasons for forming the group were:
- The group wanted to improve the environment through soil conservation. By coming together the group wanted to dig terraces that would conserve soil on their farms and dig tree holes that they would plant trees in the farms to prevent soil erosion.
- The area had severe water shortage. Through coming together the group wished to have shallow wells along their main river channel.
- The group wished to have welfare activities that would seek to improve their living standards. By coming together the group would have merry go round activities that would provide the group with income to cater for their basic needs. The area suffers from acute poverty.
River Athi is also a dangerous point for fetching water. It is highly infested with crocodiles. A number of our livestock and children have lost their lives as they fetch water from this water point.
Due to the lack of water availability in the area the community suffers other challenges:
- During the dry periods the farmers have to walk long distances with their livestock in order to get water. Livestock are the main economic assets for the community. The continued drought has continued to loose their livestock. This has made many members of the community to shift from farming to livestock keeping. The loss of livestock therefore translates to increased poverty in the area.
- Increased environmental degradation. The community has tried on many occasions to have trees planted in their homesteads. Due to lack of water most of the trees planted have continued to dry up.
- Women have continued to lag behind in development matters since the burden of fetching water remains on them. Most women spent time in fetching water for use in their homes. Due to the distance and time required for this activity most women have no time to take part in other basic activities.
The main type of crops that the community farms are
- Maize, cowpeas, green grams, sorghum and pigeon peas.
The area depends on rain fed agriculture. In the last four years the area has not received rains and this has led to intense famine and severe food insecurity. Apart from rain shortage the other reason that have led to food insecurity are
- Poor fertile soils. The area has degraded soils due to erosion. Due to severe soil erosion the crops have not had good harvest.
- The community has continued to practise traditional planting methods that have led to decreased harvest. The reliance on maize as a staple crop and also as a cash crop has led to decreased harvest due to unreliable rains. The community also lacks knowledge on farming methods that can be practised in the area.
- Environmental degradation. Soil erosion and the lack of trees have continued to be a main challenge in the area. Soil erosion has led to poor soil fertility whereas due to overstocking of the livestock they have also destroyed the vegetation cover.
- Increased drought and famine. During the drought period most of the incomes area reduced. Currently the area is coming out of a severe drought period. Due to this most farmers do not have seeds to plant in their farms. The farmers have to get seeds from unscrupulous dealers and the seeds that they plant cannot do well in the area.
- Lack of tools. The group is currently digging terraces in the area so as to conserve soil from being eroded from their farms. Due to poverty most of the members cannot afford tools that can dig well the terraces on their farms.
- Pre harvest and post harvest losses: the crops are destroyed by pests before harvest. The group does not have knowledge on how to control and prevent pests from destroying the crops. After the crops are harvested they also lack post harvest preservation skills. The harvest is therefore destroyed by weevils. To prevent further losses from the weevils most farmers dispose off their produce at low prices thus returning to the viscous cycle of food insecurity and poverty.
Poor farming techniques and overstocking by the farmers has led to increased land degradation. Most of the areas are inhabited by livestock keepers who used to keep large amount of livestock as a source of livelihood. Decline in agricultural yields also contributed to massive destruction of the environment as farmers had to clear bushes to burn charcoal as a source of income. The average household size for the group is seven (7) this means more clearing of the vegetation so as to create room for more farming lands. All these practises were not controlled and the farmers lacked the skills and knowledge on how to plant or restore the degraded lands. The lack of water to plant trees also reduced the survival rate of the little number of trees that the farmers grew.
The area has severe shortage in indigenous tree seedlings that can be used and planted in the area. Most of the tree seedlings that the community plants are not able to be planted in the area and cannot withstand the drought in the area.
Despite the challenges that the community faces they are hopeful that through sand dams they will be able to create water security in the area that is the door way to reducing poverty in the area. The sand dams will improve the water table of the river channel thus creating a year round supply of water for the community. Apart from water insecurity the group hopes to restore the degraded lands. By just walking around the farms you notice how erosion has contributed to low farm yields. This will be through terrace digging and pasture establishment to create pastures for our animals and control soil erosion.
With the availability of water the community plans:
- Increase their income levels. Through the planting of vegetable along the river banks the community and farmers will be able to plant horticultural cops that they will sell and be able to get income.
- The farmers will also increase the number of tree that they plant. Water availability will boost the planting of different species of trees that can be used to food and income production.
- The group also plans to improve on animal husbandry. The group will start a dairy goat project that will be used to improve the local breeds and also generate income for the farmers. Reducing the number of cattle that are kept by farmers will promote environmental conservation.
- The group also seeks to create seed security through the establishment of a seed bank. This will enable the farmer to have access to quality and certified seeds types that can be able to withstand drought and harsh weather patterns in the area.
SHALLOW WELL PROGRESS REPORT
After the completion of their sand dam the community started excavating and collecting the local materials for the construction of their shallow well on September 12th, 2013. This took them a while and by the 27th October, 2013 they finished the shallow well excavation and as well the collection of the local materials (rubble stones and sand) needed to implement the project.
The lining of the shallow well to enable hand pump installation started on the 28th October, 2013. Construction had to be stopped due to the rains and this delayed the completion of the project. On December 14th , 2013 the shallow well was built to completion and a hand pump installed.
CURRENT PROJECT STATUS
The sand dam and shallow well projects are complete.
Though the sand dam has yet to grow to maturity it has managed to harvest and store rain water from the October – November 2013 rains, thus the community achieving their objective. The 407 households within the group are now benefitting from collecting water from the shallow well.