East Africa is currently facing the worst drought in recent history, devastating the livelihoods of vulnerable dryland communities.

It comes as the region, including Kenya and Ethiopia, where we currently have programmes, is experiencing the driest conditions and hottest temperatures since satellite record-keeping began, with an unprecedented four consecutive failed rainy seasons. 

Existing food and water shortages are becoming increasingly severe, as natural water sources are drying up, crops are failing, and livestock are dying.

The UN has warned that a staggering 22 million people are already projected to face extreme hunger. Yet forecasts indicate that this year’s late rainy season is also expected to fail, which could cause this number to rise further.

Widespread land degradation, caused in part by droughts and flash floods, together with unsustainable farming practices, is further compounding the problem. Soil becomes less fertile, and less able to hold water, leaving rural communities, who depend on the land to sustain their livelihoods, even more vulnerable to food and water insecurity.

Reversing land degradation and supporting communities to sustainably manage the land is therefore a critical step in helping these communities to build their resilience to drought, with the UN even calling it a “global imperative.”

Here at Sand Dams Worldwide, we support dryland communities to do just that, supporting them to become food and water secure, whilst helping to protect and restore the local environments which they depend on. In essence, we help communities to restore, rebuild, and regreen.

It starts with a sand dam, a sustainable method of harvesting rainwater.

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 to provide communities with a year-round source of clean water for life. That water is stored within the sand, where it is safe from disease and evaporation. To see how sand dams work, watch our short animation film here:

Sand dams help to restore degraded land, by recharging groundwater levels both above and below the sand dam. Combined with environmental protection techniques such as terracing, which helps to conserve water and soil, vegetation starts to regenerate, reducing soil erosion, and in turn creating more fertile land for farming. To date the communities we have supported have dug over 1.8 million metres of terracing.

With improved access to water, and a healthier environment which can sustain their livelihoods, communities are empowered and able to rebuild their lives. Families can grow enough food to eat and sell; children can access education; they are healthier and better nourished; and they are more resilient to the changing climate.

We also support communities to plant trees and drought-resistant crops so that, combined with the natural regeneration of vegetation, they help regreen environments and create healthy ecosystems. To date we have enabled over 1.1 million trees to be planted.

Click here and you can hear from Mary and Jeanniffer (pictured right), two farmers from the Kyandani self-help group in southeast Kenya, who talk about how their lives and the surrounding environment have been transformed by sand dams and access to clean water.

But we urgently need your support so that we can help more vulnerable communities affected by drought to restore, rebuild and regreen.

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

£30 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 provide today would make a profound difference for generations to come.

Please select a donation amount (required)
Set up a regular payment Donate