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How sand dams quenched villagers’ thirst for clean water

By Erastus M Mulwa | October 22nd 2018

Government officials join members of Inyanzaa community during the commissioning of a sand dam-enhanced borehole in Kivaa, Masinga sub-county, at the weekend. [Erastus Mulwa, Standard]

A remote village in Masinga Constituency is now enjoying regular and reliable access to clean drinking water after months of sustained campaign for environmental conservation.

For many years, residents of Inyanzaa village in Kivaa ward would trek for more than five kilometres in search of clean water for domestic use thanks to the depletion of key water sources and low rainfall.

However, consistent efforts by a group of local villagers to launch and sustain aggressive campaigns against sand scooping in River Inyanzaa has borne fruits and is now the talk of the region.

Two years ago, a group of villagers under the chairmanship of 68-year-old Paul Kathinzi formed a self-help group whose main objective was to educate the public about the benefits of conserving the environment and particularly securing rivers from uncontrolled harvesting of sand.

By working closely with both political leadership and the county government, the group successfully managed to lobby a ban on sand harvesting in River Inyanzaa.

The aim was to build sufficient reserves of sand and ultimately develop sand dams which would guarantee residents reliable supply of water all-year long.

However, the success did not come easy. Ugly confrontations were witnessed between the ambassadors of sand conservation and sand traders which attracted the attention of the National Environment Complaints Committee (NECC) who intervened to arbitrate the wrangles.

The success story of the ambitious initiative was celebrated at the weekend on the site of the newly-constructed Inyanzaa Community Clean Sand Dam in a ceremony witnessed by officers from NECC led by the chief executive officer, John Chumo.

Upon recognising the efforts of the residents in campaigning against sand harvesting, NECC which largely deals with arbitrating disputes relating to matters of environment, came supported the construction of the ‘underground dam’ which has now become source of clean and consistent water.

The 18-feet underground dam sunk on the side of river, with above-surface projection of approximately three feet, has literally become the talk of Kivaa location.

“We conceived this idea after learning the hard way about the scarcity of water in this area. We have been fighting powerful sand harvesting cartels that have been salivating to scoop the available sand and we are happy that we now have water throughout the year,” said Mr Kathinzi.

Dr Chumo called on residents of other regions to replicate the project.

Agnes Makau, 58, said the new facility came as a big relief for residents’ endless water problems.

“I am very happy because besides using the water at home, I supply water to a nearby school and get paid,” said Ms Makau.

Justus Kioko, another member of the project, said the results should be a wake-up call for those seeking to end perennial water shortage in their regions.


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