Until ChildFund New Zealand constructed the dam on Kwamwaniki River in Kenya, farmers in the area struggled. Normally a small river, the dam creates water deep enough to allow farmers to pump it to their fields on higher ground. Robert, one of the area’s farmers, transformed his family’s life by using water from the dam to grow food and create a steady income. Here he describes how this simple dam has changed his life.Robert and his son Conor sit in their family's vegetable garden in Kenya. Photo by Jake Lyell.
“I’m married with two children, a boy and a girl. Before the sand dam, those years were tough for our family. There was little money. We couldn’t get enough food for the family to eat.
It was a hard life before this project began. We all used to wake up very early in the morning and go to nearby areas and look for casual jobs. I’ve just begun now to work on my own. I don’t have to go outside the village now. I used to struggle as a casual laborer, waking up early and going to find work. Maybe back then I’d make 150 shillings ($1.75) in a full day.
Now life has become a bit easier and we earn a living through farming. I used to plant just spinach in this little area along the river. We used to just dig wells and carry the water with jerry cans. It would take a whole day just to water a small bed after walking back and forth.Robert has used this simple sand dam to transform his family's life. Photo by Jake Lyell.
Now I’m able to plant tomatoes, peppers, and maize as well, in addition to spinach. We normally use them at home but my wife also takes them and sells them at market. I get around 40,000 for harvesting a half an acre of tomatoes. I’ve built a new house. We’ve bought new clothes. Now I can earn around 40,000 ($445) every three months.Robert and his son Conor hold a pumpkin grown in their family's garden. Photo by Jake Lyell.
Our family’s nutrition has also changed. We are able to buy new nutritious foods. Even if we have not planted some of them, we can now buy them with the cash we get from the harvest. We used to eat just beans and maize but now we’ve diversified our diet. We can afford some meat now from time to time as well.
The family and the children have changed because of the nutritious food they get. We plant tomatoes and they eat them when they are fresh. Nutrition is important for them. Even their mental capabilities are improving. My son now is number one in school.Since the project began Robert has been able to improve his family's home. Photo by Jake Lyell.
We have improved our house since the project started. I have managed to build two more rooms onto the house. Now each child has their own room. We also have a separate kitchen.
I hope to be able to make the rooms very smart for my children and eventually take them to secondary school. If I work hard on the farm I’ll achieve my target I know.”