A sand dam for people, livestock and wildlife
Peter Matunge is the Manager of Lekurruki Conservation Trust (LCT), a community-owned area of land in northern Kenya.
Lekurruki is a harsh semi-arid environment, characterised by drought, land degradation and insecurity.
The region is home to significant elephant populations, at risk of human-elephant conflict and poaching.
One of the freshwater springs currently shared by people, livestock and wildlife.
In January 2015, Lekurruki Conservation Trust in northern Kenya began building their first sand dam. With the support of Excellent Development and Africa Sand Dam Foundation, they are improving access to water and creating sustainable futures for people and wildlife in this vulnerable region.
A community approach
Lekurruki conservancy is a community-owned area of land in northern Kenya, managed by the Mukogodo Maasai who live there, protecting and improving it for the benefit of people and wildlife alike. It is one of 27 similar conservancies that collectively make up the northern rangelands – an area of land 150% the size of Wales.
Peter Matunge, Lekurruki Conservation Trust (LCT) Manager, told us: “Lekurruki conservancy was started in 1999 by the Lekurruki community with the vision that this conservancy would help them achieve some social, economic and ecological sustainability.”
It is home to 3,126 people and their 19,072 livestock, as well as significant populations of wildlife, including vulnerable populations of elephants, which live outside the realm of formally protected reserves.
This harsh, semi-arid environment is characterised by drought, land degradation, insecurity and conflict, all of which have contributed to increased hunger and poverty. Rainfall is low and erratic and people report that droughts are becoming more frequent. The scarcity of water and pasture is causing internal displacement and making access to education and health services more difficult than they already are.
Peter said: “Last year we had a drought. This year there’s a possibility of a drought. People are already planning to move to other areas, because already it’s January and there’s no grass; no water.”
A water intervention
With the support of Excellent Development and Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF), Lekurrki conservancy have started building their first of 18 sand dams to transform access to water for people, livestock and wildlife.
Peter told us: “Excellent Development is coming to fill a very big gap that we have been trying to manage.”
At the moment there is no access to clean water in the conservancy. Within the 60,000 acres of land there are just eight freshwater springs – all of which are unprotected and contaminated from use by livestock and wildlife. All other water collection is from hand-dug holes in dry riverbeds.
Water scarcity results in poor family and livestock health, forces women and girls to spend a large part of their day collecting water, and results in conflict between people and wildlife, who are all competing for this scarce, essential resource.
Improving access to clean water will help overcome these problems and create new opportunities for the people who live there. A key part of the work will involve providing separate access points for people and animals.
Peter told us: “This [having water] might also encourage the community to think other ways…because there is water then can we try farming? So, probably the community can think of that. All these things are enabling the community to have excellent livelihoods that can enable them to stand the challenges of climate; the challenges of frequent droughts.”
Excellent Development and LCT have formed a partnership to improve the management of water resources in Lekurruki in a variety of ways, including with sand dams. And, to take advantage of the opportunities that access to water will provide, such as supporting those people who choose to adopt agriculture with climate-smart farming techniques.
Peter said: “In 10 years’ time I would like to see this conservancy able to manage itself, be sustainable…The community able to live a better life: having good schools, health centres, water sources, clean water, and able to conserve wildlife and the environment.”
Excellent is delighted to be working with LCT to achieve this vision.
Excellent Development is coming to fill a very big gap that we have been trying to manage... In 10 years’ time I would like to see this conservancy able to manage itself, be sustainable…The community able to live a better life: having good schools, health centres, water sources, clean water, and able to conserve wildlife and the environment.
Peter Matunge, Lekurruki Conservation Trust (LCT) Manager