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 project information direct from our partner:
The group was formed in the year 2003. The group has a membership of 16 people. The group is located in Kanthuni sub-location, Kanthuni location, Mavindini division, Kathozweni district in Makueni County. The members come from three villages namely Mwanyani, Kiaoni and Kiukini. The population of the 3 villages are 220, 145 and 225 respectively.
Makueni County is one of the 8 counties in Eastern Kenya and one among the 3 counties in Ukamabani region. The County borders to the north, Taita Taveta to the south, Kitui to the east and Kajiado County to the west.
The main reasons for forming the group were:
• The group wanted to improve the environment through soil conservation. By coming together the group wanted to dig terraces that would conserve soil on their farm and plant trees in their farms to prevent soil erosion.
• The group wished to have welfare activities that would seek to improve their living standards. By coming together the group would have merry go round activities that would provide the group with income to cater for their basic needs.
• The area had severe water shortage. Through coming together the group wished to have sand dams along their main river channel.
• Livestock keeping
CHALLENGES TO DEVELOPMENT
The main water sources: River Kyangwasi, Kwa Ndeti Earth dam and borehole. The distances of the water sources from are 1km, 2km and 2km respectively. It takes 5 hours in a day for women to fetch water. During the dry season they rely on the borehole and Kwa Ndeti Earth because River Kyangwasi has water only during the rainy season. The river has continued to be eroded away. The time that there is actually water in the river channel has reduced from 6 months to less than 2 months. Most of the community have resigned to fetch water from borehole and earth dam. There are long queues at the borehole as they use the water only for drinking because the earth dam water is not safe for drinking. The water from the borehole is salty thus even cannot be used for tree planting. At the borehole, a 20litre jerrican goes for KES 2 thus making most of community members sometimes use the earth dam water which is not clean. Christine Musyimi tells us the situation was worse before the borehole and earth were done. The only source of water then was River Athi which is 10 kilometres away. River Athi is also a dangerous point for fetching water. It is highly infested with crocodiles. Christine says one had to wake early in the morning in order to return by 2p.m.
Due to lack of water availability in the area they face other challenges.
• Tree planting. Due to lack of water the community has continued to plant trees but they dry up because of lack of water. Also the salinity level of the water makes them to dry up as one cannot manage to fetch water for livestock, for home use and for trees.
• 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 rains fail.
• Poor farming. The community members spend much of their time in fetching water. This necessitates them to neglect their farms. Most of them do not prepare their farms well by digging terraces and putting manure in their farms. Hence reduced harvests from their farms.
• Women have continued to lag behind in development matters since the burden of fetching water remains on them. Most women spend time in fetching water for use in their homes. Due to the distance and time required for this activity most women have no time to take part in other basic activities.
The main type of crops that the community farms are
- Green grams
- Pigeon peas.
The area depends on rain fed agriculture. In the last four years the area has not received rains and this has led to intense famine and severe food insecurity. Apart from rain shortage, the 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.
• Poor fertile soils. The area has degraded soils due to erosion. Due to severe soil erosion the crops have not had good harvest.
• 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 the terraces on their farms.
• Increased drought and famine. During the drought period most of the incomes are reduced. Currently the area is coming out of a severe drought period. Due to this 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 lack of sufficient water in the area has led to the farmers not being to grow trees as they would want to. Apart from insufficient amount of water, termite infestation and the lack of knowledge has limited the ability of the group to successfully plant trees in the area. The farmers continue to plant trees that have little survival rate due to the harsh climate. The lack of trees has led to increased environmental degradation, the lack of fodder for the livestock, inadequacy in firewood which is the main source of fuel for most households.
• The community members will create water security through constructing of sand dams. Also they want a shallow well along their sand dams.
• The farmers will also increase the number of tree that they plant. Water availability will boost the planting of different species of trees that can be used for food and income production.
• The group also plans to improve on animal husbandry. The group will start a Galla goat project that will be used to improve the local breeds and also generate income for the farmers.
• Soil conservation. The community, through the support of tools, will embark on a terracing program on their farms. This will enable them to improve their harvest as a lack of terraces contributes to low harvest.
• The group also seeks to create seed security through the establishment of a seed bank. This will enable the farmers to have access to quality and certified seed types that are able to withstand drought and harsh weather patterns in the area.
This shallow well is now complete. The well pump was installed at Kwa Mwatu Kyangwasi on 11/11/2014. This well was built in place of a well that was supposed to be constructed in connection with a sand dam built for Athiani Farmers Self Help Group. To see that project, click here.