Utooni Development / Our Impact / Family & Community

Family & Community

UDO's projects impact specific to women and girls:

  • Reduced distance to fetch water. This significantly reduces the time required to fetch water. The women then have time to farm more intensively, prepare meals on a timely basis, pursue new and additional productive activities, spend more time with family members and have leisure time;
  • Enhanced status for women within a SHG and the community as a product of their full participation in project activities and an expansion of leadership roles open for women; and
  • Greater social stability within communities as new income earning opportunities emerge for young males and females, reducing the need for young females to leave school early for work and/or marriage, and reducing the need for young males to emigrate from a community in search of employment.


As part of a larger external evaluation, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) conducted a gender analysis of the impact of the sand dam project on women’s’ roles in September 2010. These findings were gathered from interviews with women from six of the self help groups. The findings discussed here are from the evaluation report.

The interviews were conducted in vernacular by a Kenyan woman. In the interviews 130 women attributed changing gender roles in their families and communities to these sand dam interventions, mentioning most often the benefits of saved time in fetching water and increased knowledge and skills in agricultural production, including irrigation.

An analysis of the content of the interviews shows the impact in three areas of the women’s lives as indicated in the following table

Impact Social and Health Economic Decision-making
Individual level
  • Improved personal  health:  improves her diet and keeps her house clean-improved personal hygiene:  bathes regularly especially during menstruation
  • Increased knowledge and skills
  • Free time to engage in other activities
  • Increased income from farm activities
  • Acquires economic independence from her husband
  • Engages in economic activities such as women associations such as merry-go-rounds and small scale businesses
  • She chooses her diet and meals with more diversity available
  • She decides how to spend her money
  • She decides which activities to venture in such as business opportunities
  • She decides what to do and how to spend  her free time
Family level
  • Improved family health: there were no reported cases of malnutrition or waterborne related diseases within their families
  • Improved family hygiene with baths and clean clothes
  • Harmonious family relations between husband and wives and siblings (peace at home mentioned by most women)
  • Changing family roles and family responsibilities: women are now involved small scale businesses, while the children are entrusted with fetching nearby water and firewood
  • Increased and steady school attendance for both boys and girls
  • Both husbands and wives spend more time with the family and follow up on their children’s school progress
  • Expands family income by engaging herself in small scale businesses
  • Help their husbands in the day-to-day running of the family by contributing in the family’s budget to make ends meet husbands are not solely burdened with familial needs
  • Increases the family’s living standards since both husband and wife contribute to  earnings
  • Decides the diet and meals for the family
  • Husband and wife make more joint decisions over the family matters: the two benefit from each others’ counsel.
Community  level
  • Engage in activities other than household chores such as sand dam construction, digging terraces and  small scale businesses such as selling vegetables and water delivery alongside their male counterparts
  • Women seen in roles traditionally done by men; eg. building dams
  • Changing communal attitudes: both men and women perceive each other as equally important contributors to the development of the community
  • engages in more community affairs such as school meetings
  • Less fighting at water points
  • Harmonious communal relations between men and women and families.
  • Improved community earnings: both men and women are earning an income through various income generating activities such as selling vegetables
  • More jobs on farms and in small businesses
  • Young men and women have an opportunity to venture in small scale businesses.
  • Higher living standards in community due to availability of resources in the households and increased income.
  • Women vie for leadership positions in the self help group councils alongside their male counterparts
  • Both men and women are engaged in community and self help group councils.  However there is a steady increase in the number of women in the self help group councils in various positions such as chairperson, treasurer, secretary, and members of the self help group council.

A summary of the findings showed the following changes


The women reported that they and their families are experiencing an improvement in health. They accredited this to the improvement in water availability and to improved farm practices, leading to more diversity of farm products consumed. They report that their families are cleaner and they are not sick as often as they were.


The women stated that the increase in time available to them is spent in expanding their farms to grow more food, keep more animals, and get more money from these activities. This additional income gives the woman a degree of independence and she feels confident taking on activities outside the household such as digging terraces and starting small scale businesses. Consequently, the traditional view of women as housewives is beginning to change in the family and the community.

The women reported that their husbands were much more comfortable knowing that their wives had income when the men went to the urban centres to earn wages. They stated that a large benefit from more money in the household was that men could now enjoy a peace which comes with the reassurance of food and safety for their families when they are away. They further reported that some men were coming home to expand farm activities, as they saw the income possible from their farms with more water and better farming practices.


The women reported changes in their familial relations since they are getting more water from the sand dams. They reported a reduction of their constant quarrels with their husbands over water-related issues. A major issue with personal safety has been resolved, as women are no longer attacked, compared as to when they had to travel long distances and sleep overnight at distant water points. With the advent of sand dams the water is close to the home and women can delegate the duty of getting water to the children. This change has brought about peace at home. It has also improved sibling relationships as the mothers are now at home much more and are able to see that brothers and sisters assist each other in household chores before and after school.


The women stated that their experiences in building the sand dams, and all the additional training that they received from UDO, and then the extra time they had to get involved in different activities, has made them more motivated to achieve their own goals. This attitude change, coupled with their visible accomplishments, has contributed to the change the attitudes of the community because the women are constantly present alongside their male counterparts in the farms or the market places. The impact is that the community is increasingly accepting women as having equally important contributions to the community as men.

The construction of the sand dams, where women are learning new construction skills traditionally associated with men, and where men are working alongside women, has been a fertile place for recognizing the worth of both sexes.  This exchange of skills and emergence of new thinking contributes to harmonious relations among men and women in the family and the community.


The internal peace that the women emphasized that their families are experiencing can be attributed not only to better health and income, but also to decreased conflict over water at the water points.  Women take less time to fetch water and walk less distance to get it, and no longer wait in queues. The fear and reality of attack and rape is reduced.  At the water points there is less conflict over the water holes, as there are more water holes in the area, and more available water. The agreement with UDO and the self help group before the sand dams are built stipulates that no one will be denied access to the water, even if they did not help in the construction of the sand dam