Joyce Musembi, 40, is a mother of four from Mukononi village, in the arid county of Makueni, Kenya.

Joyce is part of the Ithime Self-Help Group, which completed construction of a rock catchment in 2013, supported by Just a Drop. Before the project, Joyce spoke of how hard it was to find water, as due to the hot climate, water sources would dry up very quickly.

Women in Joyce's village would often have to walk distances of 10km just to find water. These journeys would take all day, and women would walk together in groups, for their own safety. Women had no choice but to carry on collecting water even when pregnant and close to their due date. Joyce told us of a woman who had miscarried on her return from an arduous journey to collect water. She returned home without water, and without her baby.

Joyce moulds bricks as a way to make ends meet, as her husband is a casual labourer and leaves every morning to look for work. Joyce said: 'It’s not easy to get a permanent job and this means doing casual labour and in most cases my husband comes back home empty-handed.' Joyce's brick-making business is a way for the family to earn much needed income. However, not having a close-by source of water is hard, as water is an essential requirement for the brick-making process itself.

In March 2017, we caught up with Joyce to see how access to a source of clean water had affected her... 

Joyce spoke of how the women in her village are now happy and healthy. With clean water, the health of the whole community has improved. Now that the women no longer have to walk for hours to find water, they have more time to look after their families, or to spend time pursuing income-generating activities.

The Just a Drop supported project has been beneficial in other ways. When members of the community collect water from the rock catchment, Joyce's Self Help Group collects a small fee. This income has enabled the group to pay for their children’s school fees. They have also been able to set up an income-generating loan project. Loans enable women to start or develop small businesses, and so act as routes out of poverty.  

Joyce's brick making business has benefited from a source of water in the community, and Joyce has recently taken out an income-generating loan to expand the business, Joyce said:

The money I get from bricks I use to buy food, pay school fees for my children and anything else I need for my family. Sometimes when the returns are good, with the excess money I buy a goat!

Life in Joyce's village is brighter for the whole community, with improved health, quality of life, and income-generating opportunities. The community is able to look forward to better prospects, as they begin to lift themselves out of the poverty trap.