Having access to water affects all aspects of community life and growth. Matee Kakoo tells the story of her community in eastern Kenya before and after a One Great Hour of Sharing-supported sand dam was built.

Ms, Kakoo had lived in Mbangulo for 40 years and says, “the situation before the sand dam/shallow well was pathetic.” She notes that the people could not bathe and people from other areas mocked them because of their appearance. People went hungry because they didn’t have enough water to cook food. Their primary school had insufficient classrooms because there was no water to make bricks. The children often missed school because they needed to fetch water for their families from one of two water points, between four and seven miles away. Fetching water was a time consuming activity, walking the distance, waiting in line four to five hours and then carting it back home by foot or donkey. It took most of the day, leaving little time for other activities like school or work or farming. Women were also at risk for being sexually assaulted on their long journey to get water.

When the people of Mbangulo were first approached about constructing a sand dam, they were enthusiastic. They quickly gathered local materials that were combined with additional donated construction materials to build the dam. The people worked very hard, and within a month the dam was constructed.

Today, children are in school and there is even a shallow well on the school grounds to provide for the school’s needs—including new bricks for new classrooms. Bricks are made locally with several kilns that have sprouted up in the community. Permanent houses are being built. Food is more plentiful as the water allows people to grow gardens and they have more time to tend to them.

Some, mostly women, have started table banking to boost small businesses. “We have converted time taken to go for water into other income generating acitivites,” explains Ms. Kakoo. She reports that one group has accumulated the equivalent of over $800 USD in their account.

Ms. Kakoo expresses her gratitude for what this water project has done for her community, “It will be remembered by generations to come.”

Matee Kakoo collects water from the pump-operated shallow well. With water, village children will not lose their childhood. Kitui County, Nzambani District Photo: Mary Obiero