This project is a part of our shared program with Africa Sand Dam Foundation. Our team is pleased to directly share the report below (edited for clarity, as needed).
This shallow well is only possible because of another project happening at the same location. A sand dam is being constructed which will help raise the water table in the area, charging this well. To see the sand dam project, click here.
Water Project staff member Crissie learned something new when visiting this village: "An interesting thing to know is that 'Twone' in Kikamba means to Energize Yourself, which I think is a special name considering that a lot of the woman in the [self-help] group are older. And the name Mbee Muselele is the name of the community. The name comes from the history of the people and town. Many years ago the villagers lived up in the surrounding mountains and then decided life would be easier for farming if they came down into the valley and lived closer to the river. When they had all constructed their houses, they realized that all the houses were built in a straight line . Straight Line in Kikamba is Mbee Muselele."
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 the making of roads. They say it is easier to work together because they achieve much more than when one is alone.
· The group constructed gabion walls to help retain water as when it rains the water is usually washes away.
· They have a merry go round fund-sharing group which serves as a means of livelihood for them and helps the group bond together.
The members get water form Yandia River, governor’s borehole, and Mwanyani earth dam.
Water used 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.
Water for drinking: 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 Kenyan 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 at the bore hole and the river scoop 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 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 for each household. 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 and they do not have a seed bank where they can get the seeds. This makes the farmers plant late, resulting in 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. 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 much of the soil is carried away.
The main trees planted by the community are fruit trees which include citrus and paw paw trees.
Most of the trees fail, and the community cited the following as the main causes of tree failure:
· Knowledge and skills. Most of the farmers have not had any training on tree planting hence they need to be trained for future success.
· Termites. The farmers experience termite infestations 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 excavation of the shallow well began on October 19th and is still ongoing. It is expected that the group will be able to dig down to at least 15 feet. Installation of the pump is expected to begin during the week of November 16th.
The sand dam and shallow well are a necessary pair because building a dam raises the water table. If the water table is too deep, it is almost impossible to draw water from the ground. So raise the table, and thus the term “shallow well.” These wells can often be dug by hand. Now that both of these projects are complete, the Twone Mbee Muselele Community and its farmers will have enough water for both irrigation and domestic purposes.
The Water Project, Twone Mbee Muselele Community and Self-Help Group Thank You for making the hope of clean water a reality.