We started Utooni Development Project in 1978 because we had common problems of water shortage. There were six families in the community. Joshua Mukusya had an idea and he thought of getting the families together, both man and wife, to discuss this problem. He talked to those six families first and then we came together. We called this group Utooni, after a village named for a wild fruit that grew in the area over a long time and is eaten by people. The group has kept this tree for history. The six families are all still active members (2007) except one family. This family was opposed to recruiting new members and the rest felt it was not fair and they dropped out.
The six families used to meet at the water points around mid-night queuing and waiting for their turn to fetch water. These water points were about six kilometers from our homes. We would sit around and talk about our problems. And then we said, “This is foolishness! How long will we continue to meet around the wells talking like this?” So we talked about what else we would do to get water. The idea of constructing barriers along the river channels came to our thoughts through Joshua. This was following experience during colonial times where Joshua saw stones being arranged along river channels to reduce the speed of water and reduce erosion. Joshua thought, “if we made this stone barriers more permanent and lift them high by reinforcing them with cement, then we could have water stored behind them in the trapped sand”.