Published in March 2020

I hope this finds you safe and well.

As I write this, a global pandemic is bringing large parts of the world to a virtual standstill and creating high levels of anxiety and uncertainty. Who knows what the long and short-term impact of the COVID-19 virus will be. Here at Sand Dams Worldwide our immediate priority is to do all that we can to make sure our staff and those we work with around the world remain safe and are able to continue to do their job of bringing clean water to those who need it most.

But we also have another pressing concern. Some areas of the world have only just started to report cases, including parts of Africa where Sand Dams Worldwide is active and where, in some places, access to water for drinking and washing is an ongoing problem.

Here in the UK we are told that washing our hands is one of the best ways of reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Many of us will be religiously following this advice, diligently scrubbing our hands when we have been in contact with friends, family and after a trip out of the house. We can simply turn the tap on to get a supply of clean water. But what happens in a place where the local water supply dries up for parts of the year and it’s a long gruelling walk to get water for your family? Hand washing, one of the most significant defences against the relentless march of this and other diseases, just won’t be possible.

Just last month on our most recent volunteers’ sand dam expedition to Kenya, it was common to see small bands of children and groups of women carrying the tell tale yellow plastic containers to the local river to collect water for day-to-day use. That’s often the only way they can get water for drinking, cooking and washing. Each one of those yellow containers is heavy to carry and there is a limit on the amount a household can collect in a single day, particularly when the nearest water source is hours away. Regular hand washing may just not be possible and that means diseases will spread more quickly and with potentially devastating consequences.

That’s why, while we manage the immediate day-to-day risks of COVID-19 to our staff and partners, we cannot afford to take our eye off our longer term goal of bringing a safe and dependable water supply to the millions who cannot simply turn on a tap to wash their hands. We are spending the next few weeks working out how we can manage our ambitious programme for next year. Understandably people’s minds are elsewhere but here at Sand Dams Worldwide, and with your ongoing help, we aim to keep investing in sand dams so that many more people can play their part in reducing global health threats like the one we are all currently living through.

On behalf of the Sand Dams Worldwide team though, more than anything, we hope you, your family and friends stay safe and healthy, please do not hesitate to email us at [email protected] if you have any queries, and we thank you for your continued, ongoing support.

Please donate what you can to support dryland communities to combat climate change with sand dams and climate-smart agriculture