This year we have seen multiple reports of extreme weather events occurring around the world, including record-breaking high temperatures, devastating flooding, and prolonged droughts and wildfires.

Just last month, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that weather events like these are likely to become more frequent and intense.

This landmark study, which brings together current and historic climate observations to provide the most up-to-date understanding of climate change, also reported that in Africa, the rate of temperature increase has generally exceeded the global average.

In southern Africa, including Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Malawi, where Excellent Development currently has programmes, extreme climatic variations including droughts and flooding are already causing fertile land to dry up, contributing to widespread food and water insecurity.

The IPCC report warns that conditions here are likely to get worse, with more intense bursts of rainfall and flooding, but overall a decrease in the amount of rainfall during the year, with worsening droughts.

This will put more and more pressure on already threatened natural water supplies, and is likely to have a devastating effect on crop production. This in turn has significant implications for rural farming communities, many of whom depend on rain-fed agriculture to sustain their livelihoods.

An important message from the IPCC however was that it’s not too late to take action on climate change.

In fact, solutions like water harvesting have been identified as ways to help communities adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change, whilst also contributing to combating land degradation.

Sand dams are one such example – they harvest rainwater to provide dryland communities with year-round access to water, even during periods of drought. A sand dam is a concrete wall built across a sandy riverbed that can capture up to 40 million litres of water, replenishing every rainy season. Watch this short animation for an explanation of how sand dams work:

Sand dams also recharge groundwater levels and capture water that would otherwise run-off, while allowing most water to continue downstream. As water infiltrates the soil, this enables vegetation to regenerate, reduces soil erosion and helps restore degraded land to provide a healthier, more productive environment.

In turn, farmers are able to grow more crops, providing an important source of food and income for their families.

We also support communities to sustainably manage the land and implement a range of environmental protection measures such as tree planting; another conservation technique which can prevent and reduce land degradation and help communities adapt to climate change.

“I am positive that if drought persists, I am prepared enough to counter the effects. I don’t even know how to express my joy and happiness. We now have surplus water that is sufficient to last until the next rainy season. This has been made possible by the establishment of the sand dam and also learning about new farming methods. This dam is not only for us, but it is our heritage for generations and generations to come.”

Sibongile Siziba, community member, Zimbabwe.

To date, communities we work with have planted an impressive 1.1 million trees, and in southeast Kenya, there has been a 263% increase in the number of households planting trees. Here you can read about our recent programme in southern Zimbabwe where farmer Sibongile (pictured above) and two rural communities have been able to improve their water security, whilst also transforming the local environment, including promoting significant re-greening in an area previously barren (picture below).

But as the climate crisis continues to wreak havoc to weather patterns around the world, we need to support more dryland communities to take part in projects like these, to help save lives and the land on which their livelihoods depend.

Here is just an example of how your support could help:

£20 could provide a community with 4 bags of cement for their sand dam

£30 could create 10 metres of stone bunds that are put across gullies to slow the water, which reduces further soil erosion

£160 could create 2 gabions; blocks of stones secured in wire that prevents soil erosion (see Sibongile’s story)

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for your continued support during this challenging time. Any support you are able to provide today will help transform lives and land for generations to come.

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