Imagine walking for up to 12 hours in search of the nearest water source. When you get there you find the water has been polluted by livestock drinking and urinating in it. You’re tired. You’re thirsty. But, because it rains just twice a year, you have no choice but to use that water to cook, clean and wash.

For millions of women and children in Kenya’s rural drylands, life is darkened by the eminent cloud of grief from the number of victims that fall ill, due to the lack of clean water. The cross contamination and use of unprotected water, often results in children being plagued by waterborne diseases such as bilharzias; a parasite that causes diarrhoea. A disturbing 525,000 children under the age of 5 die each year from something as curable as diarrhoea. The need has never been greater to stop the suffering. Of those that survive, a bright future isn’t promised with most schools in Kenya without a water source, children have to bring their own water to school. Failing to do so means they have to walk for long distances in a bid to find water or they’ll be sent home, missing out on the vital education.

For women, the consequences are as life-threatening. Even whilst heavily pregnant, often alone, and far away from medical help, some women give birth on the journey to or from water points. In the worst cases, there have been instances where the ongoing strain of carrying water for miles, day after day, has caused miscarriages and still births. No woman should have to endure this.

Thankfully, there is a solution. Supporting people in drylands to build sand dams, which provide a local supply of water, means that less children die each year from curable diarrhoea and women no longer have to bare this burden. Can you help by making a donation that will stop the suffering of communities living in drylands?

Theresia Musyoka of the Kakai self-help group, told us of the problems that rural communities in Kenya face:

“Due to the lack of water, hygiene standards were poor. One would go for days without taking a shower. Our clothes were dirty and especially the children went to school with dirty school uniforms. This resulted in skin diseases such as ringworms and skin rashes.”

Communities in rural Kenya have no choice but to use unfiltered, unprotected water to survive and accomplish daily chores. The land is so dry within the region that when it does rain, up to 85% is simply lost as run-off with nowhere for it to be stored. Sand dams are the solution to trap this water; providing thousands of people with easier access to a lifetime of clean water. A reliable source of water is the much-needed lifeline in repairing the devastated lives of women and children whose days are filled with the gruelling task of fetching water for up to 12 hours a day. You can be a part of the change, by making a donation today. Communities can collect some of the materials to build a sand dam from their local area – like rocks and sand – but the cost of the cement, barbed wire, steel bars and tools they need is beyond their means.

Will you help them today? A donation of £60 could provide a roll of barbed wire – an essential component to reinforce a sand dam – to enable people in drylands to free themselves from the endless drudgery of collecting water, and have time to grow enough food to feed and support their families.

Having a local supply of water also means that children no longer have to spend valuable time out of lessons, fetching water and missing out on an education. Most importantly, it means there will be fewer deaths of children who fall prey to waterborne diseases, dying before their lives have even begun. With access to safe water, the possibilities are endless as communities have the chance to become self-sufficient and grow their own food to eat and sell; generating an income at the market.

As Maria explains, water transforms lives:

“With water nearby we shall have more time to develop our farms and engage in other economic activities thus improving the living standards of our households.”

Those in Maria’s community no longer have to suffer the drought and risk their lives drinking contaminated water. But there are too many women and children who still have to endure a life without clean water. Will you help us prevent more tragedies by making a donation today?

Here are some ways in which your donation could support a self-help group to build a sand dam, providing a local supply of water much closer to home:

People living in drylands have already achieved so much this year. There are so many success stories – so many people who have grasped the opportunity you have given them with both hands, working day in day out, fuelled by their determination to secure a local water supply for themselves, their mothers, their sisters, their sons and daughters.

Please consider donating today, to help us meet our urgent need. Your donation will ensure that fewer women and children have to face the terrible health consequences of collecting and using unprotected water, and more families can begin to thrive.