This project is being implemented by our partner African Sand Dam Foundation, and is focused on the construction of a shallow well with hand pump, and corresponding community education programs.
Below is unedited project information direct from our partner:
Athiani self help group was formed in the year September 2008 and it is made up of two villages. The main reasons for forming the group were:
1) 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 holes that they would plant trees in their farms to prevent soil erosion.
2) to improve their living standards. By coming together the group are able to pool resources, and share access to micro credit that provide the group with income to cater for their basic needs.
The area had water problems during the dry period of the year. Through coming together for this project the group hope to relieve some of this water related hardship.
The groups main economic activities are focused on farming and keeping poultry and livestock.
The main water sources are the Kambu water pipeline, the railway water pipeline, Kambu River and Kamunyuni River. All of these sources are at least 2km away. The water from Kamunyuni River is saline and can only be used for livestock. During the dry period of the year (especially during the months of August to November) the people face a water shortage due to frequent break down of the water pipeline. Due to long queues at the water points it os only possible to make one journey a day. The cost of a 20 litre jerrican is kshs 3 which is not affordable to most members of the community members who have no source of income. Most of them will only fetch water for cooking and drinking, and this has resulted to low hygienic standards .Women and children bear the burden of fetching water.
Due to the lack of water availability in the area the community suffers other challenges.
Poor farming methods. Much of time is spent in fetching water. The situation is particularly severe during the dry season. This has led to the neglect of the farms. By the time one gets from fetching water they are tired and cannot engage in farming or in any productive role.
Women in the area also spend most of their time collecting water and are not able to invest sufficient time in other areas of their lives.
Due to lack of water most of the trees have struggled to survive. Tree planting has been a challenge.
The main type of crops that the community farms are: Maize, cowpeas, green grams, pigeon peas and sorghum. The area has experienced severe food insecurity due to lack of reliable rain to support food production. The area depends on rain fed agriculture.
Other reasons that have led to food insecurity are:
- 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.
- 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.
- Increased drought and famine. During the drought period most of the incomes area reduced. 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.
The group have a tree nursery. The main challenges to tree planting are as follows:
- Termite infestation. The area has high incidence of termite that destroy the trees. The community lack the ability to control termite from destroying their crops.
- The lack of knowledge and information on tree management. Most farmers lack the skills on how to establish the tree nurseries and even care for the trees after they have planted them. This has reduced the survival rate of the trees in the area.
- Salinity of water. Due to water salinity the tree survival rate is still low.
This project will allow the community to access groundwater, to provide both clean water in the home as well as water for subsistence agriculture. African Sand Dam Foundation are working with the group on both hygiene knowledge and agricultural sustainability, to ensure that this water supply contributes to the groups development as much as possible.