In Kenya’s Kitui district people have agriculture as the main economic activity. The district is repeatedly hit by drought as it lacks water mainly due to the lack of retention of the water in the catchment areas, as 80% of the received precipitation is lost as surface run-off. As a result, water resources are few and far apart in dry periods and people walk up to twenty kilometers to get water.
The sand dam programme, undertaken by Sahelian Solutions Foundation Kenya (SASOL) aims at increasing the availability of water by reducing the distance to water sources and avail adequate water for domestic and productive use within two kilometers of every household; and the amount of water in the catchment to diversify the economic activities of the community and impact on the environment by building of sand dams in a series in a catchment’s drainage channels for synergistic effects.
SASOL works with local communities towards the alleviation of the persistent water problem by organizing and informing the community members about sand dams and their role in the construction. The community identifies sites and decides on the total number of sites it is capable of developing depending on availability of enough stones, sand and water. The site committee plans for activities at the site, supervises and monitors the work in progress; maintains site records, mobilizes the required local resources, stores and protects resources obtained externally, maintains technical staff assigned; and assures compliance of rules and regulations developed by the community.
The development of sand dams and water holding structures, terraces and contour bunds on the land, has increased productive shallow. Over 450 sand dam sites have been developed in Kitui bringing water closer to households serving up to 200,000 inhabitants.