Turning struggling farmers into employers in Kenya

15 January 2019

Damaris and Kimondiu Muasa were just like many other poor Kenyan farmers, living at subsistence level. But their situation changed when the Anglican Board of Mission’s (ABM) partner Anglican Development Services Eastern (ADSE) visited their community.

The community had a seasonal river and a strong farmer self-help group, so the plan was to use the self-help group to construct a sand dam. With funding support from Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), ABM and ADSE provided technical expertise for planning and constructing the dam wall, as well as cement and steel rods. Local farmers provided volunteer labour and food for the labourers.

But why a sand dam? This technology means that the dam wall traps not only sand but, beneath the layers of sand, a year-round water supply. In fact, the sand reduces evaporation. Where previously the river ran dry for more than half of each year, farmers now simply needed to dig through the sand to find water year-round.

Some, like Damaris and Kimondiu, were even enterprising enough to purchase a water pump and water tank. They did so by borrowing money from another ABM and ADSE initiative, a community savings and loans group. They soon found that much of their previously unused land could be irrigated to produce more crops. And there was still plentiful water for their neighbours.

With increasing profits and increasing land under cultivation, they decided to employ seasonal workers. With the help of the sand dam and an entrepreneurial spirit, they had turned from struggling farmers to employers.

 Kimondiu and Damaris working a field with two other people
Kimondiu and Damaris with their employees. Credit: Terry Russell, ABM
Last Updated: 15 January 2019