Sand Dams Worldwide's former Programmes Officer, Christopher Purnell, reports on the latest impact from our sand dam project in Mozambique.

In partnership with the Christian Council of Mozambique, Sand Dams Worldwide have successfully piloted a sand dam in Wiriamo, an area of Changara District that is dominated by a picturesque mountainous landscape. Changara’s dry climate makes the area vulnerable to disaster.Wiriamo sand dam in Mozambique

Almost cyclically, the area has been devastated by drought causing food insecurity and livelihood crises for many. A very high majority of the average 650mm of rainfall each year is experienced between December and February each year leaving a long dry period and therefore, scarcity of water for the majority of the year.

The newly founded sand dam will act as a long-term solution to these issues, resulting in an increased water supply to the people of Wiriamo. However, an increased water supply is only the start. Water security will have a positive knock-on effect for the people of Wiriamo in the following ways:

Empowering Women

The lack of water in the area has a negative impact on all community members but women and children are the most affected as they have the responsibility to travel long distances and endure long waits in queues to fetch water. Women in the community stated that prior to the construction of the dam they “spent almost every day looking for at least 20 to 40 litres of water for domestic use.” This is an enormous burden that the presence of a sand dam will relieve, freeing up hours per day to focus on other aspects of everyday life, education and commercial ventures.

Combating Disease

Wiriamo has challenges with waterborne diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea due to the consumption of unsafe water. The Wiriamo dam will offer a clean source of water, something that will go a long way to ending the cycle of poverty in the area. Research has shown that sand dams using a Rowa handpump as a water abstraction method (like the one our Zimbabwean partner, Dabane Trust, supported Wiriamo community to implement), produces clean water. In fact, 92% of the sand dams tested provide water that is completely free of faecal coliforms and bacteria, meeting WHO standards for clean water consumption and therefore offer no risk to the consumer. The remaining 8% of sand dams tested are considered to have low risk to the consumer according to WHO standards, which is still a marked improvement on the quality of water being consumed, and will have a substantial difference on the health of the Wiriamo community.

Increased agricultural production

The community hopes the increased access to water over a longer period throughout the year will increase their agricultural production for both economic gain and food security. Prior to dam construction households in the community were forced to “reduce the number of meals per day from three to two” due to poor agricultural production. Water has been so scarce in recent years that the second agricultural season has not been practiced and what crops have been grown have lower nutritional value than required. Due to this the community have resorted to selling their cattle to combat the insecure food sources. To be able to practice the second agricultural season as well as a more fruitful first season was stressed by the community as the biggest impact the dam will have. As Wiriamo’s population is mostly made up of farmers this would not only mean increase in the health of the community but a more reliable source of income.

The potential impact the Wiriamo dam will have on daily lives of the community that built it is massive. The community’s optimism for increased agricultural yield is firmly founded. The people of Wiriamo can look forward to an improvement in future agricultural seasons and in turn, enjoy the fruits of their labour.

After the success of the pilot dam, Excellent have committed to enabling more communities in rural Mozambique to build three more sand dams, in turn providing an improved water source for a further 5,875 people in 2017/18.

Could you donate today and supply more communities with the tools, hardware, support and guidance they need to build a sand dam, providing themselves with a lifelong supply of water?

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