Project information

Helping dryland farmers to combat climate change

Unreliable rainfall and drought are making it increasingly hard for people living and farming in south-east Kenya to grow enough crops. We need to raise £64,144 to support ten rural communities to adopt climate-smart agriculture, enabling them to grow enough food to feed and support their families.

January 2017 - January 2018

Charity information: Excellent Development

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  • Need


    In the drylands of south-east Kenya, water scarcity has locked people into a cycle of subsistence for generations. Growing enough food is increasingly challenging in the face of climate change – as droughts increase in frequency and intensity – often causing complete crop failure, and increasing dependence on food relief. When rain does fall, it quickly runs off the bone-dry land, disappearing and taking fertile topsoil with it, further diminishing people’s ability to grow enough food to survive


    In partnership with Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF), we will support ten rural communities in south-east Kenya – who we have already supported to build sand dams – to adopt sustainable farming techniques. No longer spending several hours each day fetching water, they can invest time into learning methods to increase their crop yield and income, in harmony with the environment. The communities themselves make a large contribution to the project, ensuring ownership and lasting positive change.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Enable 350 farmers to produce more food, reducing hunger and increasing household income


    » - Communities will establish community plots where field officers will demonstrate techniques, enabling them to trial drought-tolerant crop varieties
    » - They will learn new farming and soil and water conservation techniques, such as mixed cropping, crop rotation, early planting and terracing
    » - They will establish ‘seed banks’ to ensure ongoing seed security, stocked with seven types of drought-tolerant seeds
    » - They will establish tree nurseries, nurturing seedlings to plant on their farms and in their communities (soil conservation, timber and fruit crops)

    What success will look like

    Community committees will collect data on crop yields and income. In-depth individual interviews will provide anecdotal evidence of reduction in hunger.

    Aim 2

    - To improve health and nutrition across ten communities (approx. 8,200 men, women and children)


    » - The communities will receive hygiene training to ensure safe practices for collecting and using water, in order to improve community health
    » - Growing a range of crops means that communities will eat an improved diet with a greater nutritional range

    What success will look like

    Community committees will collect data on crop varieties used by the community. Focus group and individual interviews will demonstrate improvement in communities' health.

    Aim 3

    To empower the community through training and project management


    » - Field officers will train communities on techniques they can implement on their land to improve soil and water conservation, and food production
    » - ASDF will run workshops to develop community governance and financial management, planning, gender equality, accountability and business enterprise
    » - ASDF will facilitate exchange visits to enable learning to be shared between communities, and ensure that practices are firmly embedded

    What success will look like

    This will be demonstrated by evidence of new methods and roles taken up by communities, demonstrated through focus groups and in-depth interviews

  • Impact


    Crop yields will increase, meaning surplus can be sold at market, to generate income, and stored in seed banks for future food security. A greater variety of crops ensures communities will not go hungry and nutrition will be improved. More farmers will practice a greater range of sustainable agriculture techniques, conserving soil and safeguarding the land for future generations. Women in particular will become more empowered through learning new skills and decision-making in the project.


    1) Extended droughts reduce harvests and seed bank stores

    ASDF will monitor weather reports to time planting as accurately as possible. The project promotes use of drought-tolerant crops and seeds. Farmers are trained in budgeting food and profits.

    2) Extended droughts reduces trees’ survival rate

    Tree nurseries are only set up once a community has a reliable supply of water. Training for farmers covers tree protection, so they can mitigate the risk of drought causing trees to dry out.


    We will provide a report once demo plot phase and learning visits are complete. Any significant alterations will be reported. We will provide quarterly reports on the progress we have made in achieving our aims. We will report to donors via newsletters, and updates on our website, and social media.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £64,144

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £13,610 Participatory training Learning new farming methods by doing
      £19,398 Food production Demo plots, terracing
      £10,816 Seed banks Setting up and supporting community seed banks
      £6,208 Tree nurseries Setting up and supporting community tree nurseries
      £14,112 Fundraising and Governance Internal costs - fundraising, communications and governance

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    African Explorations £5,000 Conditional
    Excellent Trustees £2,400 Conditional
    Excellent Supporters £8,724 Conditional
    The Reed Foundation £8,000 Conditional
  • Background


    The Ukambani region in south-east Kenya is home to the Akamba people. It comprises the counties of Makueni, Machakos and Kitui, which together cover an area of 38,000km2 and are home to 1,143,859 people.

    In the drought-prone Eastern Province, over half a million people (57% of the population) lack access to safe drinking water (UNDP, 2009, Kenya HDR). 2/3 of the population live in poverty, 1/3 of children are underweight and almost 1/4 of households depend on emergency food assistance.


    Women gain respect and become more listened to members of the community; they have greater input into decision making and more of a say in how household assets are utilised. Investing in farming means fewer men have to move to urban areas in search of paid work – keeping families together. Children are better able to concentrate at school if they have enough food. Food security improves health and nutrition of all community members, but is especially important for children’s development.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Excellent Development supports people living in drylands to work their way out of poverty with dignity. Since 2002 we have enabled the construction of 903 sand dams in 8 countries, bringing clean water to 826,486 people in chronically water scarce environments.

    We work in partnership with Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF), a registered Kenyan NGO founded in 2010 whose mission is to implement water, food, health and income security projects, empowering marginalised rural communities.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Simon Maddrell

    Simon is Founder of Excellent Development. Simon has over 30 years experience implementing sand dams in rural drylands.

    Christine Whinney

    Christine is Head of Programmes at Excellent Development. She has 9 years of experience supporting projects across Africa and Asia.

    Musila Silu

    Musila is Development Director of Africa Sand Dam Foundation, our strategic partner in Kenya. Musila's expert knowledge is key in delivering our aims.

    Stephen Musyoka

    Stephen is Monitoring and Evaluation Manager of ASDF. His team ensures that solutions continue to be the most relevant and effective for communities.


could provide 15 pickaxes for a community to dig deep terraces on their farm, and harvest more crops

“The trainings that were given to us really changed my life. The yields have been amazing and I have not seen such a good harvest for a very long time."

— Stephen Mule Musyoki, Ulaani Kwa Katw’a Self Help Group