By Kiptanui Rutto.
The remedy for the droughts hitting Kajiado County and the whole country is here, Maasai Integrated Development Initiative (MIDI) has the best method to harvest rain water and conserve the environment.
Started in 2001 by a group of young innovative residents, MIDI, as an NGO has two main agendas, Water Security and Food Security. When you secure water through conservation, eventually food can be available.
MIDI Project Manager, Philip Ole Koyei while speaking to Kajiado County Press in an exclusive interview said in their Water harvesting program, they developed an initiative called Sand Dam. This is a high-tech concrete wall constructed across a seasonal river with sand, so that when it rains, the flash floods and sand are collected in proportion of 40 per cent and 60 per cent respectively.
“The sand dam has its technical specification in order to hold back water for up to 1.5 kilometres upstream, again, the place should be sandy for it to conserve the water for residents to use during the dry spell,” he said.
Since 2012, the team has constructed 15 Sand Dams across Kajiado West villages. This has help in reducing water shortages in the region and enhanced establishment of kitchen gardens.
“Recently, Emboliei Sand Dam helped people leaving in a radius of 42 kilometres when the drought hit the county and in 2014, the Ilodariak Sand Dams fed over 10,000 heads of cattle during the drought. This shows how the sand dam is useful thus the need to adopt the technology,” Koyei said.
The manager said before working on the Sand Dam, they take their time in field work which includes community participatory on resources mobilization, training the community on the importance, maintenance and efficient use of the dam. This will make the community more responsible for sustainability of the project.
“We have a technical team for capacity building, we ensure that community is fully engaged to construct a dam, do regular monitoring to ensure that these dams last forever to solve the issue of water shortage,” he said adding that they also do cost sharing with the community.
He said: “Though with financial challenge, we have identified 35 potential sites in Elangata wuas, Maparasha and Ilpasimaro but just to mention a few. We can construct four thus calling for well-wishers and County Government to come on board to help solve the crisis.”
He said the political leaders have heard and some have seen the immediate positive impact of the project though not yet acted.
The advantages of this Sand Dam are; it keeps water for nearly a year for livestock and human consumption, changes the environment around and can be used for farming like bee keeping, kitchen gardens.
MIDI is in partnership with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) who has helped in training over 80 community Self-Help groups on integrated livelihood skills since its inception.