Families across the drylands of East Africa are facing an increasingly alarming crisis.

Since late 2020, four consecutive rainy seasons have failed, already causing the worst drought in recent history.

A poor start to the October – December (2022) rains is causing concerns of another failed rainy season, and increasing hardship for families already struggling to cope.

The effects of the drought are already clear to see, with food and water becoming increasingly scarce, as riverbeds are drying up, and crops are withering away. Yet with each failed rainy season, the situation gets more dire.

Women and children are having to walk further and further across parched land in search of water – which even then is often unsafe for human consumption – leaving them little time or energy for any other work, including farming. Children too are missing school, as collecting water takes priority, or they are simply too exhausted.

Families are going hungry as crops have failed due to the drought, meaning farmers have very little food supplies, and are unable to generate income. Add to that the soaring food prices, and the simple act of putting food on the table each day is becoming more and more challenging, with many now getting by on just one meal a day.

Here you can hear from Rose Wamba and Caneb Nziki, two members of the Kyekuyu self-help group in southeast Kenya, who both spoke of the daily struggles the community used to experience as a result of the water shortages. 

“When I was younger sometimes I used to miss school, because back then we didn’t have water to bathe. Also going to school was hard, because our shambas were not very productive, so it was a struggle to sell enough food to be able to pay the school fees.”

Caneb Nziki, member of Kyekuyu self-help group, Kenya.

At Sand Dams Worldwide we are working hard to ensure that families across drylands are no longer devastated by the impacts of droughts. It starts with a sand dam – a sustainable method of harvesting rainwater that ensures families have lifelong access to water. See here how a sand dam works:

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, even during droughts.

That water is stored within the sand, where it is safe from disease and evaporation, providing a source of clean water which meets the World Health Organisation’s standards for drinking.

Sand dams create opportunity, particularly for women and children who, with access to water close to home, save hours each day; time which they can then invest in their livelihoods, such as earning a living, or for children, going to school.

With a dependable source of water, farmers can grow a greater variety of crops year-round, providing a vital source of nutritious food for their families and a reliable source of income, as they can sell surplus produce at local markets.

We also support communities to implement climate-smart agriculture, so that they can adapt their techniques to the changing climate, and continue to grow more food for the long-term.

Speaking to Rose and Caneb, and seeing children joyfully run around playing, it’s clear to see how the Kyekuyu SHG’s sand dam project has helped transform the lives of the community there.

“This sand dam has brought me peace. I have clean water for drinking, and I can now grow vegetables at my home. I never knew that my life would change this way.”

Rose Wamba, member of Kyekuyu self-help group, Kenya.

But we need your support so that we can enable more communities like this to build sand dams, and in turn empower families to thrive once again. 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

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

£100 could provide a community 500 seedlings and a spray pump, to protect their trees from insects

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and for your ongoing support during what has undoubtedly been a difficult time for many. Any support that you are able to provide today would go a long way in supporting families that need it most.

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