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Where there used to be wasteland, mangoes, citrus fruits and moringa trees thrive today

26. March 2019 - Kenia
There is a water shortage in large parts of Kenya. This also applies to the districts of Makueni and Machakos. Most of the year the landscape is characterised by drought. In contrast, the areas managed by the Kyutuni Embui self-help group look like an oasis. In the course of our project, a sand dam, a tree nursery and a demonstration area for agroforestry were built on site.

Over the past year and a half, the Kyutuni Embui Youth self-help group has reached fell. In 2017, the young men learned from other groups about the arche noVa sand dam project and the Africa Sand Dam Foundation. The decision to join came quickly. The mostly young men from the villages of Kalyambeu, Embui and Kyaani competed with the motivation to grow vegetables on their own land in order to improve their income and bring more perspective and security to the region. In April 2018, construction began on the sand dam, which was completed in June 2018 along with the shallow well at the dam. In the meantime, the group has completed trainings on various topics such as water, sanitation and hygiene, tree nursery management and first aid training. They were also able to set up a tree nursery near the dam where numerous seedlings of mango trees, citrus fruits and moringas were cultivated.

Water supply previously completely inadequate

In the past, agriculture would not have been possible because water was only obtained from scoop holes. Holes, which are dug into the dried out riverbed until you come across water, which is skimmed off. Often the fetching of water was connected with long walks and long waiting times at the holes. The construction of the dam now reduces the time needed to procure water, so that activities to generate food and income are possible. The water quality has also improved enormously, so that the number of illnesses caused by contaminated water has decreased.

Sand dams a simple and effective solution

Since 2012 arche noVa has been supporting the construction of sand dams in Central Kenya together with its partner organisation Africa Sand Dam Foundation. Sand dams help to store the little rainfall. The idea behind it is as simple as it is ingenious. During the dry season, a precisely calculated wall is built at a suitable location in a dry riverbed. In the course of the next rainy seasons, sand is flushed to the dam wall. Layer by layer, a large area of sand is created behind the wall as a reservoir with a very high water content. The water remains protected from evaporation, is filtered and can be pumped upwards through a well with a hand pump.


The lynchpin are the self-help groups

The groups must bring in a high level of motivation, staying power and a lot of their own working time and personal contribution, because they are the key to the success of the project. They are involved in all measures right from the start and take ownership of the dams. They not only use the water for drinking, washing clothes and cooking food, they also irrigate the adjacent, shared fields. The agricultural products cultivated serve the purpose of self-sufficiency or are sold at local markets. The money earned can be reinvested or divided within the group. In addition, tree nurseries are established at the dam, whose seedlings the farmers plant or sell on their own farms. In 2019 the project will be continued with further self-help groups. In the current project phase, 22 communities (25,900 people) will benefit from the measures.  

The project activities of the Kyutuni Embui self-help group were supported by donations from SZ-Reisen GmbH in Dresden.