This project is being implemented by our partner African Sand Dam Foundation, and includes the construction of a sand dam as well as agricultural activities including terracing, tree planting and the creation of a tree nursery and seed bank.
Below is unedited project information direct from our partner:
BASELINE SURVEY FOR MAIUNI SELF HELP GROUP
Maiuni SHG is in Kithuiya village, Kiambwa sub location, Kiteta location, in Kiteta division and has a population of 5,915. The group was formed in the 2011 by a total of 46 members with 33 members being female while 13 were males. The primary reason why the group was formed was to increase water security for the area residents. Other reasons were; soil conservation through terrace digging, starting horticultural projects i.e. planting of vegetables and fruit trees and merry-go rounds to help members have income that could help in paying school fees and meeting other basic needs at the family level.
The main challenges faced by the community in the area:
Water insecurity is the main challenge that led to the formation of the group. The main source of water in the area is River Ngwani which is 2 kilometres away. The main method of water abstraction is through scoop holes. The river is seasonal and it dries up especially in August and October. During this period the community members are often forced to dig deep scoop holes (an average depth of 5 feet). They then queue for more than 4 hours per day only to end up with poor quality water which in most cases leads to water borne diseases being rampant in the area. The situation gets worse during weekends as heavy traffic of humans and livestock queue at the same water points. The hilly topography of the area makes water fetching a pretty tiresome task.
“In a day I have to fetch two (20 litre) jerricans because carrying the water uphill leaves me tired and unable to do any other task. The long queues lead to more time being wasted at water collection points. This leaves other chores unattended e.g. washing clothes”
Due to scarcity of water one activity i.e. tree planting has been halted. The group used to grow fruit trees which they depended on as a source of income. But due to climate change the trees have been drying up leading to reduced households’ income. Water insecurity is also a cause for poor economic standards in the community. This is attributed indirectly to more time being spent in fetching water rather than engaging in other economic tasks. During very dry seasons which lead to water shortage, many livestock lose their lives. Farmers have livestock as assets that they can dispose off to earn a living thus loss of livestock leads to loss of income for the farmers.
The main economic activity in the area is farming; however the farmer’s harvests have declined in the past. The average time a farmer can store farm yields is less than two months meaning that for a period of more than ten months the farmers have to depend on relief food from the government which is not reliable and due to inflation the cost of food stuff is skyrocketed hence buying food from the market is unaffordable, thus leaving farmers vulnerable.
The main reasons that lead to poor harvest are:-
- • Poor seed quality
The farmers lack access to quality seeds that are able to withstand the harsh climate in the area. Most of the farmers spend more time fetching for seeds during the rainy season only to practise late planting, by the time they plant the rains have reduced leading to the crops drying up.
- • Poor farming methods
Inadequate knowledge on modern methods of farming is also a constrain for good harvest since most farmers still practise old methods of farming which include large scale farming of maize which is not adaptive to the arid and semi arid lands and late planting among others.
- • Soil erosion
The topography of the area is hilly and farmers do not practise farm terracing hence increased soil erosion. Due to low income, the farmers are unable to use farm inputs like fertilisers and this has affected the fertility of their farms which later affects their farm yields.
- • Population Increase
Population increase is also a constraint to improved harvest. Since most farmers depend on selling of fruits as their main source of income, trees and bushes have been cleared to pave way for new settlers and farming activities thus leading to shortage of fire wood which is the main source of fuel for the community; It takes an average of two hours (2) per day to fetch for firewood which can only prepare two meals. Half of the group members buy firewood at Kshs 150 per bunch. This has increased the income burden of the group whose poverty index stands at 84%.
To address these challenges the group will focus on the following areas for the five year period that it will be working with ASDF
- Creating water security through the construction of the sand dams.
- Horticulture farming- Irrigating of the lands / farms close to the sand dams to grow food for local consumption and sell surplus to generate income for the group.
- Specialize on tree planting-commercial fruit tree planting for income generation through the sale of the fruits.
- Revive agricultural productivity of the area through practising modern sustainable agriculture.