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).
Welcome to the Community
The Itatini Self-Help Group was formed in the year 2012. It has a membership of 37 different households that come from three different villages: Mukimwani Village, Kivani Village, and Katitu Village. The total population from all three of the villages is about 1400. The villages are located in Mukimwani Sub-Location which had a population 5202 people as of last year. The area is one of the most densely-populated areas and thus has a massive water shortage. (Editor’s Note: While this many people may have access on any given day, realistically a single water source can only support a population of 350-500 people. This community would be a good candidate for a second project in the future so adequate water is available. To learn more, click here.)
As of a 2015 survey, the main socio-economic activities for the group members include:
– 16% depend on causal labour. Causal labour is an activity where one engages on household related jobs which are not frequently available. They also depend on the season e.g. most causal labour happens during harvest time and planting season.
– 10 % are employed members in different professionals e.g. teachers
– 66 % of the group depend on farming
– 6% operate small businesses.
Agriculture is the livelihood for the community. ASDF works to empower farmers in practicing climate-smart agriculture which entails planting drought-tolerant seeds, planting trees, and digging terraces to help keep soil from eroding and boost soil fertility. These practices improve the harvests of the farmers.
Itatini Self-Help Group’s first sand dam was constructed at the end of 2015. The 2015 sand dam has only caught one rainfall, and needs one more before it is fully matured. This means that the community still doesn’t have sufficient water to meet all of their agricultural needs, but looks forward to it in the future. People are accessing water from scoop holes they dig by the sand dam, because the shallow well constructed alongside the dam is still surrounded by water. Once enough sand builds up, locals will be able to get to the well and pump water that is naturally filtered by the dam's sand. This first sand dam has reduced the water shortage, and prolonged rains have resulted in the sand dam harvesting water and building up sand to mature faster. However, another sand dam and shallow well are still needed to reduce the two kilometers traveled by some community members living further out.
In order to ensure equitable access of water for the large population, the community has decided to build several sand dams and shallow wells along the main river channels to ensure that all members have a fair distance to travel for water. This second sand dam is now being constructed which will follow the maturity process as outlined above, building up sand and raising the water table to create a natural, sustainable, filtered water source that is accessed from a water well! (Take a look at the adjacent hand-dug well project here!)
Since this is the second year of intervention with this self-help group, members have already attended hygiene and sanitation training. 100% of households have pit latrines that are well-ventilated, dug to no less than 15 feet, and are very clean. With these great conditions, open defecation isn't an issue anymore. All of the households have useful tools like dish racks and clotheslines to dry belongings. Farmers have also been taught about composting, so each household has a large pit for compostable waste and a smaller one for garbage.
Most community members have at least received a basic education, providing them with a little knowledge on hygiene and sanitation. Even though training was conducted last year, minimal emphasis is put on practices like hand-washing and water treatment.
Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training
The refresher hygiene and sanitation training will be held for two days in the community. Self-help group members will share their schedules so that the most convenient time can be agreed on, and everyone will be alerted ahead of time. After our recent check-in with the community, the facilitator has decided to focus on the topics of hand-washing and water treatment.
Plans: Sand Dam Construction
The sand dam is projected to be 62 meters long and 2.9 meters high. The best location was agreed upon by the community, and we verified that there is sufficient bedrock for dam stability.
Itatini Self-Help Group has inspired other groups in the area by their hard work and success so far. Many members of the community who are not in self-help groups have been encouraged to start the registration process. Itatini is a role model to these new groups, and they plan to do more dams in different areas of their villages to ensure that all water needs are met.