We need to act now to prevent a devastating global food crisis.

That’s the message coming from leading international organisations like the United Nations and the World Bank.

It comes as the number of people facing acute food insecurity is rising at an alarming rate.

The recently published Global Report on Food Crises identified that in 2021, global levels of hunger surpassed all previous records, with close to 193 million people acutely food insecure and in need of urgent assistance – an increase of nearly 40 million people compared to the previous high reached in 2020.

Major increases were seen in countries like Ethiopia, with around 8 million additional people facing severe hunger, including in the drought-affected region in southern Ethiopia, where Sand Dams Worldwide currently works. Climate change, conflict and rising inflation, including as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, are all contributing to growing levels of food insecurity across the globe.

The impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is compounding the problem, with record rises in food prices expected to push millions of people into hunger, affecting the world’s most vulnerable people – families who are already struggling to put food on the table.

The conflict is also disrupting critical food supplies such as wheat, where in East Africa for example, 90% of all wheat imports come from Russia and Ukraine.

Increasingly frequent and severe weather extremes such as droughts are also expected to worsen the problem, with countries like Kenya anticipating major deteriorations in acute food security, due to persistently below-average rainfall.

In southeast Kenya, another region where we work, communities here already tell of their crops drying up, and having to skip meals as they don’t have enough food to feed themselves. Families, who rely on farming their small plots of land to grow food and generate an income, are desperately hoping for there to be good rains during the next rainy season in November. But the outlook so far doesn’t look promising, with poor rains expected once again.

At Sand Dams Worldwide, we are working with these communities to help them overcome the food shortages, and ensure they can grow enough food to eat and sell. It all starts with ensuring they have access to water. That’s where sand dams come in.

A sand dam is a reinforced concrete wall built across a seasonal riverbed. During rainy seasons, rainwater is captured and stored within sand (that builds up behind the sand dam wall), protecting the water from evaporation and contamination. Watch here how sand dams work:

Sand dams can store up to 40 million litres of water, replenishing every rainy season to provide communities with a year-round source of clean water for life. No longer dependent on unreliable rains, farmers have access to water which they can use to irrigate their crops so that they can continue to grow their own food, even during the dry seasons.

Communities are also supported to implement improved farming methods, so that they are equipped with the skills to ensure they can continue to produce healthy crops, despite the changing climate and increasingly extreme weather patterns.

“I am proud because I can now grow more vegetables, so as well as providing food for my family, I can also sell some to generate income for us. We have achieved a lot in just a short span of time, and for that we are very grateful.”

Catharine Fenza, Heka Heka Syomwambya self-help group member, southeast Kenya.

Coupled with the positive impact sand dams have on the surrounding environment – through recharging groundwater levels – it means that families can be food secure for the long-term.

Here you can hear from two farmers from the Heka Heka Syomwambya self-help group, a community group in southeast Kenya. Having recently constructed sand dams and implemented climate-smart farming in their community, they not only now have enough food to feed their families, but even have surplus produce to sell.

But we urgently need to support more dryland communities like the Heka Heka Syomwambya community to build sand dams, providing a sustainable solution to the hunger crisis that millions of people are currently facing today. Here is just an example of how your support could help:

  • £15 could provide a dryland farmer with drought-tolerant seeds, to grow a reliable source of fresh food for their children

  • £30 could supply a community with a rake, gardening fork, shovel and watering cans, to plant trees for fruit, fuel and fodder

  • £60 could provide a community with a roll of barbed wire, to reinforce and strengthen their sand dam during construction

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for your ongoing support. Any support that you are able to make today will make a profound difference, by bringing food and water security to those that need it most.

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