Back to our roots
See Simon Maddrell at the roots of Excellent Development.
The first Sand Dam Simon helped to build in 1985.
Simon at the Sand Dam where he was the fundi (craftsman) in charge - and it's still standing!
"It was great seeing how much the valley had changed with more trees and agriculture as a result."
On my recent trip to Kenya, I had the chance to go back to where Excellent Development started – when I first worked with Joshua Mukusya, a Sand Dam pioneer, on an expedition to Manzaa village way back in 1985. During this time, we supported communities to build three Sand Dams, six smaller barrages and 70 rainwater harvesting tanks for homes.
Even though I have been back since – Excellent Development Kenya (now Utooni Development Organisation) has supported communities to extend some of the Sand Dams and barrages, as well as to build a new Sand Dam in 2008 – I entered the situation with a certain amount of trepidation.
Development is never a continuous forward journey. Often ‘three steps forward and two back’ is real progress. I knew there had been some issues with sand harvesting in the area and one barrage had failed as a result. I found a rather lonely looking water tank – the house had long since gone leaving a somewhat disconsolate me contemplating how things change and how not everything can last 28 years.
But then I visited the first Sand Dam that I had ever built. I was delighted to see the pipe, despite showing the rusts of time, still flowing with clean water. The water tasted sweet, although I’m sure that was more to do with joy than taste buds. We were told that one of the Africa Sand Dam Foundation fundis (craftsmen) visits the area during their vacations to repair water tanks – so many of the 70 we originally built do still work.
Talking of fundis, it was great to visit the first Sand Dam that I was in charge of building – this time in Mikono village, Kola – where I raised funds to support the Utooni Development Project in 1988. It was wonderful to walk up the valley with Joshua’s wife Rodah and their grandchildren seeing how much the valley had changed with more trees and more agriculture as a result.
Some things do last after all.
I visited the first Sand Dam that I had ever built. I was delighted to see the pipe, despite showing the rusts of time, still flowing with clean water. The water tasted sweet.
Simon Maddrell, Excellent's Executive Director.