Hunger is a day-to-day reality for millions of people around the world. Despite having steadily been declining for over a decade, sadly it is now on the rise again.

Last year, it was estimated that 690 million people around the world were hungry – up by nearly 60 million people in five years.

An increasing number of countries are also facing growing levels of acute food insecurity, when a person’s life or livelihood is in immediate danger because of lack of food.

The pandemic, which has seen households’ incomes reduce and a surge in food prices, has only made matters worse, with severe and widespread increases in global food insecurity, including amongst vulnerable rural dryland communities. Worryingly, these impacts are expected to continue well into 2022.

Climate change is one of the leading causes of hunger, with erratic rainfall patterns and increasing climate change related events such as flooding and droughts all having devastating effects on crop harvests.

In turn, rural dryland communities, many of whom are subsistence farmers who rely on rain-fed agriculture to be able to feed their families, are increasingly experiencing food shortages.

Here you can hear from Florence Muthama, pictured above and below, a member of the Wikwatyo wa Mativo self-help group in southeast Kenya. She spoke of the intense hunger she used to experience during dry seasons, when she would struggle to put food on the table for her family because most of her crops would wither and dry up.

At Excellent Development we are working hard to enable communities like Wikwatyo wa Mativo to overcome chronic food shortages and end hunger for good. It all starts with a sand dam – a sustainable, cost-effective method of harvesting rainwater.

A sand dam is a reinforced concrete wall built across a sandy riverbed. During the short but intense rains common to dryland regions, water flows over a sand dam and deposits sand behind the wall where water is stored, safe from contamination and disease, providing communities with clean, safe water.

Each sand dam can hold up to 40 million litres of water, replenishing every rainy season to provide communities with year-round access to water for life. Watch here how sand dams work:

With water close to home which they can access as and when they need, farmers can irrigate their crops to ensure they stay well hydrated and can continue to grow throughout the year, even during dry seasons.

What’s more, by recharging groundwater levels and capturing water that would otherwise run-off, sand dams help to improve the growing conditions for crops: as water infiltrates the soil, vegetation starts to regenerate, which in turns help to reduce soil erosion and restore degraded land to create a healthier environment.

To help communities best utilise the new water supply and ensure long term food security, we also support them to implement climate-smart agriculture and to sustainably manage the land.

Techniques such as digging terraces and planting vegetation along riverbanks help to further reduce soil erosion and encourage rainwater run-off to absorb into the land, whilst practices such as mixed cropping and crop rotation help farmers improve their agricultural yields.

Florence now speaks with great pride about how, having learnt about these techniques and applied them on their farms, together, the community have been able to ensure that their granary stores are stocked with food throughout the year, to eat at home and even to sell at local markets.

“We now have reliable clean water. Before the sand dams, the riverbed would dry completely as soon as the rains stopped. We were unable to plant any crops because there was no water in the area. We are now able to irrigate our farms on a daily basis and plant more vegetables such as kales, spinach, coriander and onions.”

Florence Muthama, Wikwatyo wa Mativo self-help group, southeast Kenya

But we need your help so that we can continue to support more vulnerable dryland communities to take part in sand dam and climate-smart agriculture projects, and empower them to end hunger and achieve long-term food security. 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

On behalf of everyone here at Excellent Development, thank you for taking the time to read this and for your continued support, which has already helped transform the lives of many struggling dryland communities. We hope you feel able to support us again. 

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