Amidst the prevailing drought ravaging different parts of Makueni County residents of Mukuku village in Mbooni East have a reason to smile after African Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF) in partnership with Arche Nova, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) from Germany constructed a sand dam along River Thwake.
The project completed in 2021 supplies enough and clean water to more than 4,000 residents for both domestic use and small-scale irrigation.
Initiated in 2019 through Kyeni Kya Mukuku Self Help Group, the water project consists of a sand dam, a solar powered pump, storage tanks and water kiosks.
A sand dam is constructed by putting up a thick wall across a seasonal river such that when it rains water is stored on one side of the wall.
Priscillah Mutindi, a founder member of the group is reaping huge benefits from the sand dam.
Besides having access to safe drinking water, Mutindi has a constant supply of water through the year for her vegetable farm, whose sales boost her income.
She plants sukumawiki, cabbages and onions which she sells in the nearby Mukuku market.
“Before the project we used to walk for an average of 10 kilometres under the scorching sun in search of water in poor terrain,’’said Mutindi.
She notes that the time they spent trekking in search of water is now utilized in other useful activities.
48 -year -old Richard Musyoka and a father of three says the sand dam is a huge relief to the community especially from waterborne diseases which were rampant due to lack of clean drinking water.
“Waterborne diseases are now rare since the project was launched. In 2020 I was diagnosed with amoeba which the doctor told me was a result of drinking unsafe water,” said Musyoka.
He also says the project has helped curb defilement and teenage pregnancies among young girls.
“Before the project, young girls would walk for long distances and spend hours due the long queues at the water source. Most of them would fall prey to sex predators,” added Musyoka.
Members of the group also benefit from table banking using the money that is saved from selling water from the kiosks.
“Every member of the group is allowed to borrow a maximum of Sh4, 000. With the money, majority of us have been able to pay school fees,” notes Musyoka.
The proceeds from the water sales are also used to finance minor maintenance for the two-kilometre water pipeline.
According to Titus Mbithi, ASDF Communications and Resource Mobilization Manager operates in the arid and semi-arid areas of Makueni, Kitui and Machakos counties with the aim of supporting communities to implement water harvesting structures that store and ensure all year-round access to water.
“We support communities in the construction of sand dams, shallow wells, school water tanks, rock catchments, solar pipelines and a host of training on smart agriculture farming practices,” says Mbithi.
He adds that the foundation works with registered self-help groups in the county to implement their project that range from improved access to water, food security and environment conservation.
“Currently we are working with more than 200 groups across the county,” discloses the communications and resource mobilisation manager.
By Ronald Rono