Stories of Change

Cheptakar stands in her vegetable garden.

The human right to water was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2010.

Source: United Nations

Ripples from a sand dam

For Cheptakar Merkamar, education has been little more than a dream. She dropped out of school during early pregnancy. Her family was constantly on the move, migrating in search of pasture lands and access to water. When she tried to return to the classroom, she wasn’t able to stay in one place for long enough to succeed in her education. At one point, Cheptakar insisted on returning to school. Unfortunately, her parents refused to allow her to, instead arranging for her to be married. 

Today, Cheptakar is a married mother of five children. Her oldest is in seventh grade at a nearby boarding school. Cehptakar and her husband both have big plans for their children, and they hope that the next generation will receive the cherished education that they did not have the opportunity to complete.  

When Cheptakar learned that CWS was planning to construct a sand dam near her community, she joined with her neighbors to gather gravel and sand to use for construction. The sand dam is now complete, and it has a huge impact on daily life in this part of Kenya’s Baringo County. Cheptakar and her neighbors used to have to walk for over six miles every day to fetch water. Even worse were the periods of drought, when her animals perished and water became scarce. 

Thanks to the sand dam and recent rains, Cheptakar and the rest of Cheposaniak village can draw water from the sand dam and can use the water in it for farming. She says, “We thank God for the sand dam project. It is full of water and now I don’t have to walk 10 kilometers like before. I have time to attend to my kitchen garden and am not worried that my family will not have something to eat.” 

Cheptakar has established a kitchen garden near her home and has planted kale in it. She says, “My kitchen garden is giving me enough kale, while I sell the surplus and am able to get 100 Kenyan shillings [about $1 US] every day to help me meet other family needs.” 

Thanks to the CWS-supported sand dam, the dream that Cheptakar and her husband have for their children is much closer to becoming reality.