Hands On

Introduction Video of Kitui

Background Hands on Kitui video

Introduction to Kitui

Just two years ago, the area of Kitui in Kenya was arid and barren. The reservoir of the great Musosya dam was not filled by water, but sand and silt.

But the people of Kitui had a plan. Find out how they got Hands On with CAFOD supporters to bring water back to their community.

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Who's who?

Who's who?

Stella

Kitui resident

Two years ago Stella and her family had no choice but to walk hours to collect river water that often carried disease:

“To fetch water, we have to walk five kilometres to the river. By the time I get home, I’m exhausted. I fetch water three times a day but this is usually not enough, so my eight-year-old son Amos also has to collect water from the river. The water is not safe for drinking and some people can even die drinking it. Sometimes I think God has abandoned us. But you cannot blame God, so we adapt to the situation.”

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View Stella's video to find out more.

Who's who?

Mike

Hands On supporter

Mike is one of 1,700 Hands On supporters in England and Wales who were all inspired to sign up to give a monthly donation to the water project:

“Here in the UK we have an over-plentiful supply of water, but people in Kenya have such little water to work with. Clean water is vital – that’s why I signed up to help. Hands On is a very good idea, as the community in Kitui are helping themselves and I’m able to do my bit too. I am helping someone, somewhere, in a place I can’t dream of seeing.”

Hands On supporters in England and Wales followed the community's progress in Kitui, while sending vital donations, encouragement and prayers. Read some of the postcards from our Hands On supporters.

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Who's who?

George

CAFOD water specialist

George worked on the Hands On project from the planning stages, back when the reservoir of the great Musosya dam was full of sand and silt:

“The community currently have huge challenges getting enough water to drink and for their crops, so we are planning an ambitious project. In just 24 months we’re going to restore the great Musosya dam. This dam will be more successful than the previous dam because this time the community will also be taught how to dig terracing, construct small dams and plant vegetation, which are all crucial to the success of the main dam.”

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Shaping the land

Shaping the land

Hands On Kitui Introduction

For two years, the people of Kitui worked hard to transform their landscape.

Explore Kitui, by selecting the labels next to the map, to find out how Stella and her neighbours brought water back to their community. Find out more below about how the landscape of Kitui has been changed.

Main dam

Main dam

Before, the catchment area for the main dam.

At the beginning of the project, George and his team dug a three-metre test pit at the dam site to see if any water was held beneath the soil. But it was completely dry. Over the course of two years, new trees and vegetation have been planted, terraces and sand dams dug to encourage water to seep into the soil, and a huge amount of soil and silt removed from the reservoir. Now, even at the driest periods of the year, the reservoir still holds water.

After, the results of changing the landscape.

Shaping the land

Terracing

Terracing

Terraces help to retain rainwater where it is needed, and also prevent the rich and fertile topsoil being washed into the dam during the rainy season. The community in Kitui dug more than 1,700 metres of terracing around the dam site and also on their own farms.

“Before the terracing there was a lot of soil erosion and I collected a very poor harvest. Now I grow maize, beans, cow peas, millet and green grams on the terraces. Before the project I would maybe harvest two sacks of maize, but now I harvest six sacks, which should last me through to the next harvest.” Tabitha, Kitui resident

Shaping the land

Sand dam

Sand dam

More than 100 families from across Kitui got hands on to build six sand dams to collect rainwater. The base of the dams were constructed using crushed rock. This was incredibly hard work, and many of the project tools like hammers and axes had to be replaced, as the original tools broke under the strain.

The water from these dams is safe to drink because it is filtered through the sand. The sand particles also stop mosquitoes from breeding in the water, so malaria is less of a threat.

Four of the dams are holding a lot of water in the sand, so the community have built a well at each of these, so water can easily be collected using a bucket.

“I am very impressed by the four wells the community have built, because I know that these wells are going to provide water for the community throughout the year.” George

Shaping the land

Tree planting

Tree planting

More than 10,000 new tree saplings were planted in Kitui over the two-year project. These trees are growing well and are protecting the nutrient-rich topsoil from erosion. Now when the rains arrive, precious water doesn’t run off the land, but instead is absorbed into the soil and the tree roots, and slowly works its way into the reservoir.

As well as protecting the land and conserving water, many of the trees have other benefits. The community can use seeds from the Moringa Oleifera tree to purify water and the edible leaves are high in vitamins. Neem trees can also be used to treat different illnesses.

Shaping the land

Stella's farm

Stella's farm

Stella helped to crush rocks for the new sand dams and was also taught new farming techniques. “I learned how to farm through the project training. Since I started using terracing and zai pits on my land, I have been able to grow much more food. I am also teaching my children to use the farming techniques I know. Before I thought I was poor, but now I have knowledge and I can feed my family. I am no longer poor.” Stella

Shaping the land

Kalolini School

Kalolini School

Watch Stella’s son Amos explain why having water nearby means he can go to school.

Shaping the land

Community farm

Community farm

One of the villagers, Tabitha, donated some of her land for a community vegetable plot.

The plot is right next to the great Musosya dam, and makes the most of the location by pumping water from the reservoir into a large storage tank at the top of the farm. Once the tank is full, the water drips through long pipes that snake across the plot, and slowly irrigates the vegetables.

The community are growing kale, spinach, tomatoes, coriander and onions.

Continue the journey
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Together, the people of Kitui and Hands On supporters have:

Water has returned to Stella’s community

Water has returned to Stella’s community

Stella and 2,400 of her neighbours now have plenty of clean water to drink and to grow crops. Watch the video to see how Stella’s life has been transformed.

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A prayer from Stella (Kitui resident)

A prayer for Bolivia, by Stella

Oh God our father,
we are thankful for the opportunity
you have given us to be part
of this project.

You have been with us all through
the Hands On project in Kitui
and we have enjoyed a lot of benefits.

We pray that as similar projects
in other areas of the world
are implemented,
that they are successful like Kitui.

God, as you help us achieve our goals,
we will always be grateful.

Amen