This project is a part of our shared program with Africa Sand Dam Foundation. Our team is pleased to directly share the below report (edited for clarity, as needed).
The construction of this sand dam will bring great change to this region. As the dam matures, the water table in the area will rise. Among other things, this means another project, a shallow hand-dug well, can be constructed near the dam. To see the shallow well project, click here.
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 tasks easier to work together because they achieve much more than when working alone.
- The group constructed gabions (retaining walls) to help retain water as when it rains the water is usually carried away.
- They have a merry go round financing group (fund sharing system) which serves as a means of livelihood to them and helps the group bond together.
The members get water form Yandia River, governor’s borehole, and Mwanyani earth dam.
When gathering water for household chores like cooking washing and other domestic chores 52.5% get it from the bore hole, 10% from the earth dam and 37.5% from the river scoop hole.
For drinking water, 35% of the respondents prefer the river scoop hole while 65% buy water from the bore hole. The water from the bore hole is preferred for drinking because it is clean. It costs 5 shillings (about $.05) per 20liter Jerri can. Mwanyani earth dam is 3 km away, Yandia River is 1 km away, and the bore hole is 3 km away from their homes. Community members said that they do not queue at the earth dam but at 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 practices 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 and 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. They do not have a seed bank where they would get the seeds. This causes farmers to plant late, resulting in lower yields. Sometimes they buy seeds which cannot cope with the 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 also affects their harvests. The farmers do not harvest as needed due to pre harvest losses. In particular, 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 leads to continued degradation of the environment as much of 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. They need to be trained on tree planting for future successful tree planting.
- Termites. The farmers experience termite infestations which affect their morale on tree planting. They lack chemicals for termites as they are expensive.
- Due to lack of water, tree planting has been a challenge to the community members. The trees dry up, affecting the survival rate.
Collection of materials is causing delays. The communty needs to transport stones from 5-6 km distance to the construction site. The roads to get stones are not very passable, so community members are redoing road to make it passable by leveling it using tools supplied by ASDF. They are also removing big stones that are in the middle of the road. The group approached the Govenor for assitance for this task, but got no response. A woman from the community went to govenors house directly and sat and waited till 10pm until he got home and told him how much they needed water and how much they struggledd to get the funds to deliver stones to the site. After hearing this, Govenor contributed some funds and provided some personal househelp to work with the women at the sand dam site. They also approached county government, and they are awaiting more support.
Since we are close to the rainy season, ASDF staff have begun organizing other community members and various staff for a one day construction exercise- to complete 1/2 the dam. This allows for motiviation and interaction between multiple community groups as well as staff. The Govenor is planning to be there that day for group work, because he now has interest in the work as it is involved in his county. Construction is expected to be complete by the middle of October.
RESULTS OF THE PROJECT
Materials for the sand dam were collected for approximately a month starting from September 7th and continuing until October 5th. The governor eventually funded the rental of a tractor that enabled the transportation of materials to the dam. Construction began on October 6th and continued until the 28th. Staff mobilized community members throughout the project, providing an average of 2 males and 17 females to work each day. Involving the local community and its self-help group in the construction process motivated people and increased the labor force required to complete this project. Thus, the community feels a great sense of ownership for the project you have funded.
Now Muselele Village will have enough water for both domestic and farming purposes.
The Water Project and Twone Mbee Muselele Community and Self-Help Group Thank You for making abundant clean water a reality!