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CWS on sand dams in Kenya

Posted by drinkwaterforlife on June 28, 2009 at 12:47 AM


--"We are so happy about the dam," says Jenifer, a young mother in Akiriamet, the Pokot District, where a sand dam has been constructed with the help of Church World Service and local partner Yang?at. "Before, the adults would go for days without bathing," Jenifer adds. "Now we can use a whole five liters (about 1 1/3 gallons) to bathe. The water is so close we can keep chickens and do laundry. Also, if people travel by and ask for water, now we can give them a drink and be generous."

"To you this project may seem simple," she says,"but to us it has changed the way we do things dramatically."

The majority of Pokot tribespeople are semi-nomadic pastoralists, dependent on water and pasture for their animals. Availability of water is the difference between wealth and ruin, life or death.

During droughts, the search for water and pasture has historically led to conflicts. The Yang'at-guided sand dam projects in West Pokot are designed to prevent those problems by creating a source of good water closer to home.

The Akiriamet sand dam is the sixth sub-surface dam that Church World Service and Yang'at have completed in the region, in addition to a similar project across the border in Uganda.

Sub-surface sand dams are a simple but effective water solution for arid or semi-arid areas. A concrete and masonry dam is built across a seasonal stream and extended under the surface of the bed where it slows the flow of the water and collects sand against the upstream side. The slow moving water sinks into the sand deposits, which act as a natural filter and reservoir. During the dry season when the water ceases to flow, shallow wells are dug in the sand to draw out the stored water. A sand dam can provide clean water for a thousand or more people, as well as for livestock and gardens.


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