Published in February 2023

Extreme weather conditions and the water scarcity they produce can make a secure livelihood almost impossible for dryland farmers to achieve. Sand dams provide a vital source of water that helps people to take charge of their livelihoods where they live, as the story of Marko Moyo demonstrates.

Marko Moyo, aged 50, is a member of the Sabhakatsha community, who are located in the Gwanda District of southern Zimbabwe. The members of this community have recently completed a sand dam project in partnership with Sand Dams Worldwide and the Dabane Trust, but prior to this they had been struggling badly as a result of severe droughts and water scarcity in the area.

A frequent result of these harsh conditions was the death of livestock from hunger and thirst, presenting major challenges to many people in the community who relied upon livestock farming for their livelihoods. Moyo was among those that lost some of their livestock in this way. "Losing a lot of my livestock and struggling to cope with the drought was what drove me to leave home to go and look for a job in South Africa" he explains.

Prior to joining the sand dam project team in Sabhakatsha in 2021, Moyo had been living and working abroad in South Africa due to the difficulties in sustaining a livelihood in his native Zimbabwe. "I had struggled to find a job near my home that could sustain myself and my family, so I was forced to go to South Africa to search for work." Moyo explains. "When I came back home in 2021, my intention was only to stay for a short holiday before going back to South Africa. However, when I got home I found that people were already hard at work on the sand dam project in Sabhakatsha."

Moyo shares how this experience led him to re-evaluate his decision to move abroad for work, given the new opportunities that the sand dam could provide for him to build a livelihood in his hometown. "I became interested in the construction that was taking place during my visit and decided to return home to join them." he reveals.

Marko Moyo of the Sabhakatsha community - Zimbabwe"When I saw how the project was developing, I was motivated to return permanently because I knew that I would now be able to implement projects that I had previously wanted to do, since most of them only required a reliable water supply to be a success."

Marko Moyo, member of the Sabhakatsha community, southern Zimbabwe.

After witnessing the renewed optimism in the community, Moyo decided against returning to South Africa and instead moved back to Sabhakatsha to join the sand dam project. He now lives there with his 20-year-old daughter and has begun to trial some of the projects he had previously hoped to implement.

Since his return, Moyo has been able to set up a nutrition garden and poultry project, as well begin planning for a tree orchard on his land. 

Moyo says he is now optimistic about rebuilding his livelihood, thanks to the water provided by the sand dam, and that he looks forward to generating an income through these projects to grow them even further. He is not the only one with such aspirations, he tells us, as many people in the community have also commenced similar projects of their own. For these changes in his community, he extends his thanks to the Dabane Trust and the supporters who helped to enable this project.

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