Land and Water Management

The L&W Department is one among the three departments of SASOL. It is headed by the Programme Manager under the support of 8 project officers and 15 artisans. The team has a diverse range of expertise that includes statistics, community development, agriculture, water engineering, monitoring and evaluation, project management, and masonry.

The department is directly involved in implementation of interventions in water, food security, and institutional capacity building. A number of approaches are employed through these initiatives.


Key interventions and areas of operation:


1. Water and food security

Over the last 20 years, the Land and Water Department has been undertaking water and food security initiatives in Kitui County; supported by Mennonite Central Committee with funding from the Canadian Food Grains Bank, among other partners. The department employs a holistic approach to address the key challenges facing small farm holders in Kitui. The main challenges are inadequate water production, lack of information on best agronomic practices and current marketing strategies, inaccessibility to production inputs, and soil infertility.

To address these challenges, the department works with the beneficiaries to incorporate the following practices:

  1. Rainwater harvesting for livestock and small scale irrigation through sand dam construction.
  2. Soil fertility enhancement through compost manure preparation and application.
  3. Providing knowledge on best agronomic practices and current marketing strategies, as well as linking them with input suppliers.

2. Agri-business Value Chains

In the recent past, we have changed from the traditional charity work to incorporating business approaches in our interventions. Currently, we are assisting target farmer households to form producer and market associations. The associations are then linked with input suppliers, service providers and markets.

In 2014 the department focused on the green grams’ value chain with 500 beneficiary households in Kanyangi-Kiseuni ward of Kitui Rural Sub-County who are members of Lower Yatta Farmers’ Cooperative Society Ltd formed in 2013. The association is linked with green gram buyers ranging from local buyers, green gram exporters to intermediary buyers. In May 2014, the cooperative sold 220 bags to PISU based in Nairobi at a total of Ksh. 1,386,000. Out of this, a revolving fund of Ksh. 360,000 was set aside by the society that would be used to procure seeds for the members in the coming seasons and issued to them in form of credit. The program was supported by USTADI and co-financed by MCC/CFGB.


3. Institutional capacity building

SASOL collectively has over 20 years experience in sand dam technology. To facilitate up scaling of the technology, SASOL has been doing capacity building workshops for communities and implementing organizations. In the recent past, we have done capacity building for organizations in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda and Burkina Faso. In 2014 SASOL was focused on building the capacities of 9 organizations in Kajiado County, Kenya who are members of WASH Alliance Kenya. This was supported by RAIN Foundation and ICCO.


Current Projects:

SASOL’s L&W Department is currently implementing three projects:

  • Kenya Semi-Arid Livestock Enhancement Support in partnership with Land O’ Lakes
  • Strengthening Livelihoods of Rural Agro-Pastoralists In Mutito District in partnership with CEFA
  • SASOL’s Conservation Agriculture Pilot Project with support from MCC and CFGB

For more information on these projects, please visit the Current Projects page.


How we do it:

Sand Dams

A Sand dam is a masonry wall built across seasonal/ephemeral stream to retain surface and subsurface flow consequently increasing ground water recharge. This restores ground and land and ground water potential of the reservoir. The technology dates back to 400 B.C during the Babylonian era. SASOL foundation has for over 17 years facilitated construction of more than 1000 sand dams in Kitui County, Marsabit, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Tanzania.

A SASOL constructed sand dam at MPC South

A SASOL constructed sand dam at MPC South

Water, Sanitation, And Hygiene (WASH)

SASOL focuses on recharge and abstraction techniques through sand/sub-surface dams and off-take shallow wells to provide water for livestock and domestic use. The approach employs a participatory approach whereby the community members are involved in the project from planning through aftercare. This ensures its long term sustainability.

To ensure safe handling of drinking water, SASOL integrates a training component on participatory Hygiene and sanitation transformation.

Water quality testing at new off-take well site

Water quality testing at new off-take well site

Why this project?

Creating access to safe drinking water at close range for rural communities through the conventional systems like pipeline remains a mirage to date. Sand dams provide safe and affordable water sources for the rural communities. In the worst drought scenarios, wells recharged by sand dams have remained the beacons of hope for the communities of Kitui County.

Capacity Building

SASOL builds the capacity of communities through trainings on dry land farming techniques to strengthen their resilience to drought, project management and sanitation and hygiene. Well informed communities contributes to their own development and guarantees project sustainability.

Mary James teaching local farmers

Mary James teaching local farmers

Food Security & Nutrition

SASOL recognizes food as a basic need and strives to contribute to the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal of alleviating extreme hunger and poverty. Its main focuses is on both fruit and food crop production at the family level for subsistence, of importance to us is the climate change ready crops in addition to instituting water harvesting. SASOL focuses on dryland farming techniques (DFT) as the means towards increased farm production. Software skills imparted through training on dry land farming are integrated with entrepreneurial skills and value addition technologies to help the farmer reap maximum benefits from the yields.

White sorghum

Sorghum is a grain grown for food, alcohol, or fodder. It is a drought resistant crop.

Why food security and nutrition?

Climate variability has contributed to more pronounced and frequent drought events with direct impact on food production. This project will reduce the vulnerability of the Lower Yatta and Ikutha farming communities. It aims to increase household food security and reduce poverty through improved livelihoods.