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 Masola Kaani Self-Help Group was formed in the year 2011 and has grown to a group of 49 farmers.
The main reason for forming the group was to bolster the economic prosperity of its members. These families live in one of the most densely populated areas of this county, which has a total population of 3,000 people. (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. That’s why we’ve formed a five-year partnership with this community to construct accessible clean water points. To learn more, click here.) Originally, the area was famous for its massive production of vegetables, thanks to the River Ikiwe that could provide enough water for many crops. The group’s priority was to increase the harvest of vegetables so they could sell more and earn more. However, in the last years, drastic changes happened.
Their main source of water, River Ikiwe, eroded and no longer provided water throughout the year. This affected the availability of water for farming, for domestic use and other household water requirements. Many of the people that had been employed on vegetable farms had been rendered jobless, and many families struggled to meet their daily income needs. Longer queues at the water points and higher prices for buying drinking water became normal experiences. A jerrycan of water (20 liters) cost 30 shillings during the dry season; a price which many households cannot afford. By coming together, the group hopes construct several sand dams along the river channel. These will be used to provide water for all their household and agricultural needs, and restore the jobs that were lost.
The group finished their first sand dam (picture included on this page) last year, and it’s been a great success:
Benjamin Makewa, 63 years old, is one of the members of Masola Kaani Self-Help Group. He is a retired teacher and a farmer in his village. Benjamin shared with us about the first dam, saying, "We are thankful to our donor and we are ready to work on many [more] projects. We have benefited alot from the water harvested from the sand dam. We have planted vegetables (sukuma wiki, cabbage, and tomatoes) which we sell and earn income for our group. We no longer suffer from waterborne diseases. Some of the income we get from the sale of the vegetables is used to buy waterguard for all group members. This is meant to ensure that every group member treats his or her drinking water."
Everyone travels to the oasis that the first sand dam has created (you can find the picture on this page) . There is also a hand-dug well that pumps clean drinking water. Though this is a blessing to all, there are still community members living far away who not only have to wait for the crowds at the dam, but have to walk that long distance to and from. We visited two of those households to learn about their water, sanitation and hygiene needs. Check out the pictures from our tours with Rose Nduku and Angelica Mulatya.
To decrease the amount of long trips to the first sand dam, these community members collect as many large containers as they can. Some are left open to collect rainwater, while others are on the receiving end of gutter pipes. However, the poorer the household the less plastic storage containers they can afford, and the more trips they must make to the sand dam and well system. This wastes valuable time that could have been spent on income-generating activities
Homes that can afford pack animals have them, loading them up with 20-liter jerrycans. Those who can’t have no other choice but to carry containers on their backs. Luckily, most households have at least one donkey.
Water quality tests have been done on the hand-dug well’s water, and they came back with zero coliform. The group is excited that as they build more dams and wells further down the river, they will bring more clean water to even more people in the villages of Kyanzasu and Kaani.
Since the beginning of our relationship with these villages, we’ve seen pit latrine coverage go from 75% to 100%. The quality of these structure depend on the economic status of each household; the more money they can spare, the more permanent the structure. Some even have a cloth curtain hanging as a door. Because of this complete coverage, open defecation is no longer an issue here.
Now, over half of households have hand-washing stations, though the majority still needs to construct helpful tools like dish racks and clotheslines.
Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training
The group will meet for one day to review weaknesses in their practice of hygiene and sanitation. The trainer has visited with and talked to these households, and they’ve agreed together that they should go over latrine care and hand-washing.
Hand-washing will be highlighted as one of the most effective ways to prevent disease, and locals will be taught how to build their own hand-washing station. The construction and use of latrines will also be strongly encouraged, and the group will agree on a plan to implement what they learned.
Plans: Hand-Dug Well
This hand-dug well is one of many construction projects taking place to transform this area. We spend a total of five years unified with each community to address their clean water shortage. More sand dams will be built to transform the environment - And as the sand dams mature and build up more sand over time, the water table will rise. To safely access this water, hand-dug wells like this one are installed.
The wells are always located next to sand dams, since they rely on the water stored by sand dams. The sand dam location is proposed by the self-help group and then approved by the technical team. The group always proposes sites that will be central and convenient for every group member to access.
This particular hand-dug well is being built adjacent to this group’s ongoing sand dam project (click here to see). We have supplied the group with the tools needed for excavation. With the guidance of our artisans and mechanics, the excavated well will be cased, sealed with a well pad, and then finished with a new AfriDev pump.
Excavation takes a month or more on average, depending on the nature of the rock beneath. Construction of the well lining and installation of the pump takes 12 days maximum. The well will be lined with a concrete wall with perforations so that once it rains, water will seep in through the sand.