Published in July 2023

As our pilot programme in South Omo zone in southern Ethiopia continues, our partners arranged a learning exchange visit between local communities so that they could learn from one another's projects. Hearing from the participants, we learned more about the overall impact of sand dam projects in the area.

In southern Ethiopia, a number of communities have been implementing sand dam projects with support from Sand Dams Worldwide (SDW), Action For Development (AFD), our partners in Ethiopia, and funding from Jersey Overseas Aid, Isle of Man Government and the Beatrice Laing Trust. As the benefits of these projects have begun to be seen, members of other local communities are being inspired by the changes they have witnessed.

Last year, this culminated in a learning exchange visit by members of a nearby village to the Gurdo sand dam. During this visit, local people were able to see first-hand how the sand dam was changing life in the community. Furthermore, with their own sand dam project due to begin soon, visitors hoped to learn how to get the most out of their own dams in the future.

We heard from a range of different local people sharing their thoughts on the learning exchange, as well as their overall perspective on the impact of sand dam projects in the area.

Workineh Kerma is Head of the Water Department for the local area and shared this summary:

Workineh Kerma - Local Civil Servant in southern Ethiopia"Most people in this Woreda (district) suffer from water scarcity, so what AFD and SDW have done is amazing and long-lasting. In addition, they have planted vegetables near the sand dam, they have done soil and water conservation work, and fruits are being cultivated. We really appreciate this project."

Workineh Kerma, Head of local Water Department, southern Ethiopia.

Muda Wancho, an administrator for the local Woreda, explained some activities that were taking place during the learning exchange:

"The community is sharing the experience they gained from the training they received during their project, such as sharing how to plant tree seedlings at their demonstration plot... the distance needed between plants, and the science that guides the process as well. This is all being supported by AFD and SDW so that pastoralists get the best experience and can implement these methods themselves."

He goes on to describe the impacts he has observed as a result of the project:

"I am very happy with what they are doing; the life of pastoralists is going to be changed. It is not only about planting seedlings, but also maintaining the fertility of the soil. By preparing soil on farmland and planting seedlings on it, people are spreading the practice further. I’m very happy with what I saw and hope that we can see more projects in other parts of the Woreda."

We also heard how different life was for local people before the construction of their sand dam. Sote Demisse, a member of the Gurdo community, has had access to water from a local sand dam since its construction in 2021. She told us about the changes she experienced in her life:

"There was no water around here before. We would often have to travel far away to fetch water; sometimes it would take a whole day. However, since we constructed this dam our struggles have stopped. Now we’re happy to say that we have water here, which has helped women in particular. Today we are here to share our experience with other Kebeles (sub-districts) in the hope that it helps them too."

Baje Garsho is also a member of the Gurdo community, and offered his summary of the impact of the project on the local area:

"The dam is a great source of water for us, but we have also been trained in soil and water conservation. Now the dam is full of water and sand, and we see grasses growing all around. We also learned how to grow plants in tree nurseries, which we have planted around the dam and on our farms."

Baje Garsho - Member of the Gurdo community - Southern Ethiopia"By giving us training and materials, this will create change that will benefit us and our neighbours. The other villagers came today in order to get some experience from us, which we are happy to share."

Baje Garsho, member of the Gurdo community, southern Ethiopia.

In their concluding remarks on the visit, many community members expressed their gratitude towards the donors who made these projects possible. They are hopeful that these projects will continue in their area for many years.

Our current appeal: please donate what you can to help a community in Ethiopia to build a 'Sand Dam for Peace', access clean water and reduce water-related conflict

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