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 (edited for clarity):
BACK GROUND INFORMATION
The group was formed in the year 2011. It has 47 members; 45 women and 2 men. It is located in Muselele village, Mulala sub location, Mulala location, Maatha, Mulala Division Nzaui District, and Makueni County. It has a committee of 12 of which 10 are women and 2 are men.
The average household size is 5.9 and the members have an average age of 42.6 years.
• Casual jobs
Reasons for group formation
• The members came together to assist each other in activities like making of roads. They say it makes works easier to work together because they achieve much more than when one is alone.
• The group constructed gabions to help retain water as when it rains the water is usually carried away.
• They have a merry go round which serves as a means of livelihood to them and helps the group bond together.
The members get water from Yandia River, governor’s borehole and Mwanyani earth dam.
Water for household chores like cooking washing and other domestic chores 52.5% get from the bore hole, 10% from the earth dam and 37.5% from the river scope hole.
For drinking water 35% of the respondents prefer the river scope hole while 65% buy water from the bore hole. The water from the bore hole is preferred for drinking because it is clean. It is bought at 5 shillings per 20liter Jerri can. Mwanyani earth dam is 3 km, Yandia River is 1 km and the bore hole is 3 km for their homestead. They said that they do not queue at the earth dam but in the bore hole and the river scope hole they have to queue.
Challenges they face because of lack of water
• The water from the bore hole is bought at 5 shillings and this is expensive as they cannot afford to buy it every day.
• They spend many hours queuing in order to get water and this leaves them with less time to do other economic activities that would earn them income
• They have no water for planting trees and small kitchen gardens that would be a supplement to the income that they earn.
The group relies on rain fed agriculture and practise subsistence farming. The average land under food production is 1.75 acres. This is due to high population in the area.
The main crops grown by the community are
• Pigeon peas,
• Cow peas
Challenges to food production
• Lack of enough rainfall: Due to climate change, rainfall in current years has been unpredictable it is usually erratic. The members said that rains are not enough to see their crops to maturity.
• Lack of seeds: This is because they do not have money in time to buy seed to plant or they did not have a seed bank where they would get the seeds. This makes the farmers plant late hence as a result have lower yields. Sometimes they buy seeds which cannot cope with climatic conditions of the place.
• 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.
• Increased incidence of pests and diseases: This has affected their harvests. The farmers do not harvest as required due to pre harvest losses. Especially the green grams and pigeon peas are affected by blight. Many of the farmers are not able to buy the chemicals because they are expensive and the crops require regular spraying.
• Lack of knowledge on improved farming practices. All the group members said that they had no training in the last two years on any improved planting practices.
Terraces aid in soil conservation and only 7.5 % of the members had dug terraces in the last season. This continues to lead to degradation of the environment as most of the time the soil is carried away.
The main trees planted by the community are fruit trees which include citrus and paw paw
Most of the trees fail and they cited the following as the main causes of tee failure.
• Knowledge and skills. Most of the farmers have not had any training on tree planting hence they need to be trained on tree planting for future success.
• Termites. The farmers experience termite infestation which affect their morale on tree planting. They lack chemicals for termites as they are expensive.
• Lack of water: Due to lack of water, tree planting has been a challenge to the community members. This is because the survival rate still remains low as some trees dry up
The material collection for this group involved preparing the road through which the stones (building rocks) would be transported to the site. This was occasioned by lack of the stones at the site. The rocks were being collected 8 kilometres away. The role of the self-help group was to collect the materials (stones) while they hired a tractor to ferry the stones to the site. This activity was also a challenge as the members had to contribute at least Ksh 1200 to have at least 50 trailers worth of stone at the site. Most members could not afford this amount and the shg committee mobilised itself to seek for support from the governor who lives in the area. The aggressiveness of the shg chairlady to have a meeting with the governor at 10pm one day resulted to the governor paying half of the required stones and promising to have more support in the construction of the second dam by the group. The collection process took 3 months.
Trenching took 1 week for the group to find a suitable base rock.
Construction started on the 7th. It took 15 days.
38 members of the group participated in the activities.(3 males 33 females)
Success of the Project
The group was able to mobilize funds for the county government and also build partnership with the government for future support. This enabled success of the projects since without the support the time spent to have the project would have been more. The group already has water for use that will also be used to support the construction of the next dam with minimal cost and delays due to unavailability of water.
Main Challenges Encountered During Construction
The rains affected the transportation of the materials from the source to the site. Since the group had done a temporary road to use the terrain( hilly) delayed the availability of the material on site.
Because this sand dam was constructed, the community was also enabled to build a shallow well as a source of clean water. The dam raises the water table in the area, making the shallow well possible. To see the well connected to this dam, click here.