Water is not only essential for human survival, but it enables us to live healthy, fulfilling lives. We need water to grow our food, to help prevent diseases, and so that we can invest in our livelihoods through education and work.

Yet still to this day, 2 billion people – over a quarter of the world’s population – continue to live without access to safe water.

Rural communities and the poor are impacted the most. Of those living without basic drinking water services, 8 out of 10 live in rural areas, and nearly half live in the least developed countries, such as Ethiopia, Malawi and Mozambique; countries which we are currently supporting.

Women and girls, who typically carry the burden of water collection duties, often have no choice but to walk long distances to fetch water, which even then can be dirty and unsafe to drink.

Climate change is making it even harder for the world’s poorest people to get clean water, with rising temperatures and increasingly frequent and prolonged droughts threatening existing water supplies.

Changing rainfall patterns are also contributing to widespread food insecurity, particularly amongst rural dryland communities, who rely on rain-fed agriculture to sustain their livelihoods.

Without water to support their farming, the ability to grow enough food to feed their families and generate an income is becoming increasingly challenging.

We know that sand dams can offer a sustainable solution to water insecurity affecting many rural drylands areas, and have the potential to transform the lives of millions of people.

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 year-round access to water for life.

That water is stored safe within the sand, protecting it from contamination to provide communities with clean water that is safe to drink. With access to water close to home, it frees up hours each day for women and children – time which they can use to invest in their livelihoods, such as earning a living, or for children, going to school. Watch how sand dams work here:

Sand dams also have a positive impact on the local environment. They recharge groundwater levels, allowing vegetation to regenerate which in turn helps reduce soil erosion and increase soil fertility, and creates a healthy environment in which farmers can grow more crops.

Farmers are then supported to implement climate-smart farming techniques, helping to ensure they can continue to grow crops and produce enough food, even in the face of climate change and drought. Here you can hear from Miriam Sila, a member of the Katelembu Mazingira Initiative self-help group (SHG) in southeast Kenya, who have completed their sand dam and climate-smart agriculture projects and since ‘graduated’ from their programme of support.

“Before we started working on the sand dam project, life was very difficult... The riverbeds were very dry, so we had to dig deep scoop holes to fetch water... We rarely bathed, and we were unable to wash our clothes. Also, the water was not good because often when we drank it, we would be ill after... Life has changed now for the better! We no longer suffer or struggle to get water during the drought periods. Water is readily available at the sand dam at any time of day, and it takes very little time to fetch water now as it is so close. Even when the rains end, we still have water here!”

Miriam speaks of the huge difference the sand dam projects have made to their lives. No longer do they have to walk miles each day, scooping out dirty river water to use at home. Instead, the entire community have year-round access to clean, safe water just a short walk from their homes.

It is thanks to the generosity of our incredible supporters like you that the Katelembu Mazingira Initiative SHG were able to build their sand dams. But we need your support so that we can help other vulnerable dryland communities to achieve lifelong water security. 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

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

£120 could provide a community with a wheelbarrow and 10 bags of cement, to help them construct their sand dam

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for your ongoing support.

We hope that you are able to make a donation today so that together, we can support more dryland communities to build sand dams, and gain access to clean water for life.

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