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
This area is high in the Mbooni Hills, well-known for its production of vegetables. However, the hilly and rocky terrain is a disadvantage to farmers who rely on farming as their main source of income. The Kithuani Self-Help Group was formed in 2014 with the purpose of supporting farmers and their family in the community. The group started with a total membership of 24 farmers. They had the following reasons for group formation:
- Provide a financial support system for farmers.
- Address the water problem: From July to September, this area suffers a severe water shortage. The group aims to build sand dams to solve this issue.
- Conserve the environment: The farmers work together to build terraces and plant more trees to prevent soil erosion.
As the group realized all the work to be done in their area, they requested the help of ASDF. Kithuani Self-Help Group is now in their second year of partnership, and has already completed one sand dam and hand-dug well in the area.
The Mbooni Hills area has a total population of 342, all of who are expected to benefit from a new sand dam.
Water has been a perennial challenge for this community. Before the Kithuani Self-Help Group built their first sand dam, it took at least one hour to walk to the nearest water source. Once there, long lines delayed children and women longer. Since then, the group has received support in building their first sand dam. This greatly reduced pressure at the water source, but more work still needs to be done. The first sand dam is still over one kilometer from some of the villagers, and so a water source is planned further along the river. This second sand dam will bring water close to that other part of the community. It will also alleviate the huge strain observed at the first sand dam.
A hand-dug well was also constructed adjacent to the first sand dam, giving people a simple and safe way to access water. Women are primarily responsible for fetching water. They carry 20-liter jerrycans either transported on a donkey or on their own backs. Once delivered home, water is dumped into larger 100 to 300-liter storage containers. The farther away from that first sand dam, the larger storage containers a household will have. This reduces the number of inconvenient trips the woman makes. However near or far a home is from the sand dam, fetching water takes too long. The sand dam and its hand-dug well are overused. It even attracts entrepreneurs from the local market who bottle water to sell.
Since the community attended training last year, every single home in this area has a pit latrine. Though some of them are old, they are well-dug to an average depth of eight feet. The average number of people using each latrine is only six, so no pits are full yet. They all appeared to be very clean. Almost all of these homes also had a hand-washing station near the latrine. Around half of these families have dish racks and clotheslines to safely dry their things off the ground.
Homes here have two places for garbage. There is a disposal located in the home that is regularly emptied and separated between the rubbish pit and compost pit located out back. These compost pits help farmers on their farms, while the rubbish pit takes all non-biodegradable things.
We saw Peninah Nzome again, a mother who lives far from the current water source. She told us that "the lack of sufficient water sources in the area affects household hygiene. Without water, it is not easy to be healthy. Our houses and even children will not be clean because water is still a problem." You can see pictures of Peninah fetching water and showing us her home under the "See Photos & Video" tab.
Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Review
Our visit proved that the community has been acting on what they learned during hygiene and sanitation training last year. They have made improvements to their latrines and added hand-washing stations. The trainer has noticed the improvements, but also improvements still needed. Based on this information, we will hold one day of review for Kithuani Self-Help Group. Emphasis will be on water treatment and health promotion. Group members learned a lot last year to the benefit of their own households, but they need to share with their neighbors who may not be part of the group.
Plans: Sand Dam
Good things always happen when people join together. This group's unity of purpose combined with your support has helped to improve the water situation. With more water sources, outlooks change. Peninah Nzomo said, "We now have hope. With support, we will invest our efforts in changing our lives and those of communities to come." The community has already gathered sand, stones, and ballast that will be used to construct this second sand dam. The dam is projected to be 30.2 meters long and 5.2 meters high. Once there is a second sand dam in the area, many women will save time both from a shortened trip and less lines at the first water source.
This sand dam will also transform lives by transforming the environment. As the dam builds up sand, it raises the water table. An extensive water table will provide the nourishment things need to grow. The area around the dam will become increasingly green, as more water is available for both plant and human. A hand-dug well is also planned adjacent to this sand dam, which will give locals another safe and accessible water point (click here to check out the progress on that hand-dug well).