The project built three sand dams
in consultation with the local community, provincial administration, relevant line government ministries and a registered water engineering consultant. Seven engineering firms, registered with the Kenya Engineers Registration Board (ERB) and have past experience in dam designs, were vetted. One firm was identified and engaged to survey, design and generate approved structural designs for the dams in reference. The survey involved hydrological as well as geological aspects of the sites and all three designs were approved by the respective District Water Officers (DWO), Makueni DWO (for the sites in Wote and Mulala) and Kitui DWO for the Kitui site. Similarly, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) experts, who are registered with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) as lead experts and have past experience in undertaking such assignments, were vetted. Three parties were invited to submit their quotations for the exercise and after due diligence and evaluating the bids, a team was selected to undertake the study. In partnership with Africa Harvest the EIA team undertook the study and submitted the report to the NEMA Eastern province office in Embu. Before a permit was issued by NEMA, Africa Harvest facilitated the following:
- Formation and registration of Water Resource Users Associations (WRUA) in the three sites. The Associations were sensitised on the need to open bank accounts and start income generating activities to raise funds for further maintenance of the water structures.
- Registration of the dams with the Water Resource Management Authority (WRMA), a state corporation with authority over public water resources in Kenya.
EIAs were completed on the three sites and the permits to construct the three sand dams secured. The project team identified and engaged one firm, from a list of six institutions. Once engaged, the firm undertook a site verification tour of the three sites to confirm that indeed the correct siting had been done. The contractor was involved in generating a schedule of materials needed to complete the work to a high standard of quality.
The project team met with the community living around the sand dam area to discuss, map out and agree on modalities of engagement including division of labour. The local community agreed to gather locally available materials as well as provide unskilled labour to excavate the main channel as well as the uptake well. This meeting was also attended by the contractor with a view to availing all key information to the community before construction work commenced.
The total number of beneficiaries of the water harvesting intervention was nearly 50,000. Other outcomes include:
a) Community members, especially women, have access to water and they are spending less time walking to and from water sources.
b) Two groups in Mulala division have started vegetable farming using water from the dam.
c) Capacity of the community in managing the assets – dam and well – was enhanced.
d) Capacity of the community was enhanced through exposure and their involvement in the dam construction process.
e) Generally, there was an increased awareness on the need to conserve the natural resource and especially as it relates to sand harvesting along the river bed.
f) On their own initiative, the community tried fish farming as a new innovation.