This project is being implemented by our partner African Sand Dam Foundation, and includes the construction of a sand dam.
Below is project information direct from our partner:
The group was formed in the year 2007 by amalgamation of two villages that is Kyalimba and Kandulyu. It has membership of 51 of which 20 are men and 31 are women. The group is located in Miau sub-location, Kako location, Kako division, Mbooni East in Makueni County.
Makueni County is one of the 8 counties in Eastern Kenya and one among the 3 that comprise Ukambani region. The county borders Kajiado County to the west, Taita Taveta to the south, Kitui to the east and Machakos to the north.
The county covers an area of 8,008.75km2 out of which 474.1km2 form the Tsavo West National Park and 724.3km2 forming Chyullu Game Reserve. It has population of 884527 and 186,478 households Census 2009.
The district is characterized by extreme rainfall variability. Typically, good seasons are interspersed with extremely dry seasons and variations in the onset of rainy seasons add to the difficulty of ensuring adequate food production. The district has two rainy seasons which peak in March/April (long rains) and November/December (short rains).
Challenges that led to formation of the group
The main water sources in the area are River Kyalimba, River Kyengau and Kyandulyu Earth dam. Their distances are 1km, 2km and 3km respectively. During the dry season the community get water from River Kyalimba and Kandulyu Earth dam.
River Kyalimba only holds water during the rainy season. In order to access water from River Kyengau one has to dig deep scoop holes of at least 6ft deep. Also the water point turns saline during the dry period. During the dry period water at the earth dam is rationed and sold at KES 2 thus making most of the community opt to fetch water from River Kyengau. One spends more than 4 hours due to long queues. Children assist their parents after school, which does not allow for them to finish home work or have adequate study time. This also limits the time they have to play.
Due to lack of water in the area:
- Tree programs has also been affected. The lack of water has led to drying up of the trees that the farmers plant.
- Wasting a lot of time fetching water. This means the community members do not engage in casual labour which is their alternative source of income after the rain fail.
- Due to lack of water the community members have reduced their herds of cattle which are there economic assets thus increasing their poverty levels.
- Poor farming methods. Due to spending much time in fetching, they do not have enough time for farm preparations before onset of rains.
The main types of crops that the community grows are:
- Maize, Pigeon peas & sorghum
- Cowpeas& Green grams
Unreliable rainfalls have been a major setback to rain fed agriculture, which is farmers’ source of livelihood. Food insecurity in the area also is attributed to other reasons, which include:
- Poor fertile soils. Long use of their farms without applying manure and soil erosion has decreased the soil fertility. This has led to poor harvest among the farmers.
- Communities continue to practice archaic planting methods that have led to decreased harvest. For example reliance of maize which needs more rainfall and in the recent years the rainfall has been unreliable making them to harvest less or not
- Lack of tools. Most community members cannot afford tools for terracing due to poverty thus not digging standard terraces in their farms. Terracing is one technique of conserving soil in farms and hence improving the harvest.
- Pre harvest and post harvest losses. Pests and diseases destroy the crops before harvest and the community members lack the skill on how to control them and also the chemicals are expensive for them as they need to spray more than 3 times.
Community plant the following tree varieties:
- paw paws
- shade trees
Water problem in the area has led to low tree survival rate as most trees dry up due to lack of enough water. Termite infestation poses a big challenge to tree planting. The community lacks the ability to control the termites from destroying their trees. Also they lack the termite treatments, which are expensive.
Lack of knowledge and skills on tree management by farmers make them not to establish good nurseries and even caring of the trees. This has reduced the survival rate of trees.
The group seeks to do the following:
- Sand dams. Through construction of sand dams the community will help them to access to clean water. Also they will establish tree nurseries, grow vegetables for sale, which will improve their income.
- Goat project. The group will start a dairy goat project will be used to improve the local breeds and also generate income for the farmers.
- Soil conservation. With the support of tools the community will embark on terracing on their farms, which will help to retain water in their farms thus improving harvest with minimal rainfall.
- Poultry keeping. The group want to rear the local chicken breeds for sale which act as income generating activity.
JUSTIFICATION FOR NEW PROJECT- 2ND SAND DAM
The first sand dam worked wonders. This was supported by The Water Project. The old members of the group admit that they have never seen cabbages been grown in the area. From this learning experience the group is thirsty for more.
“We intend to build more sand dams along the river channel. The sand dams will provide water for farming thus feeding the community at large.”
With more water the community also hopes to set up tree nurseries that will be used to plant fruit trees.
“The new county governor has promised to set up a new fruit processing farm within the area. We have identified that a new factory will require adequate raw materials i.e. fruits which many have not grown. This is because of lack of sustainable source of water and extension support, which will provide us with skills and knowledge on how to plant the trees.
We therefore require more adequate water to enable farming and planting of fruit trees for future economic development and gains.” MUTUKU KIOKO chairman for Kyalimba SHG.
With the conjoined efforts of Africa Sand Dam Foundation and The Water Project, a second well, will be constructed thus allowing for continued development in the immediate surrounding areas, it will contribute to farming activities and potential manufacturing jobs at the fruit plant as well as allow for continued sustainability and improvement in hygiene and sanitation practices amongst group and community members.
[Editor's Note: GPS coordinates for this project have not yet been obtained.]