The Maiuni Self Help Group was formed in Kithuiya village, Kiambwa, Kenya in 2011 with 46 members, 33 of whom are women. They embarked on a project with Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF) and The Water Project to build a sand dam and a hand dug shallow well. This was in response to increased pressure on the water supply from a growing population and a drying of the local climate.
The main source of water for the village is the River Ngwani which dries up between August and October. Before the sand dam was built, during the dry periods people typically dug deep scoop holes, averaging 1.5 meters deep, and queues at these scoop holes meant waits of over 4 hours per day to collect water, often of poor quality. The time spent collecting water severely limited the farmers’ ability to engage in other agricultural or economic activities.
The Maiuni group built their sand dam using technical advice and assistance from ASDF field officers. Some materials were provided by ASDF, while others were sourced locally. The sand dam is a concrete wall built across the seasonal riverbed that captures and stores water beneath the sand. The sand reduces evaporation and filters out parasites such as mosquitos in the water, making it cleaner and safer. Water is then abstracted through the shallow well.
Hellen Munini, a member of the group, said “We don’t buy vegetables such as kale from the market anymore, because we can now grow it ourselves, thus putting the money to other use… Water collection time has reduced significantly. It only takes us 30 minutes to get water from the sand dam and we have plenty time to dig terraces and till our farms.” Another member, Peter Kititu, said “I have so far planted 130 trees, dug adequate sized terraces on my farm and planted banana trees in them. I have also started growing French beans on my two acre piece of land… I hope to earn more than kshs 70,000 [USD $821.00] from the beans.” When ASDF staff revisited the dam in 2015 they found it was maintained and still functioning.