Published in September 2022

It is often said that those of us living in the UK (like myself) are obsessed with the weather. But these days we are not the only ones scanning the skies and wondering what the climate holds in store for us.

In Pakistan, millions of people made homeless as a result of the catastrophic floods are wondering whether there is still more rain on the way. And in the horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya) a devastating drought is threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions.

The drought in East Africa is particularly worrying for me and for Sand Dams Worldwide. This is where we do most of our work bringing sustainable water solutions to rural communities. In the past there was a predictable rhythm to the rainy season. Communities could plan on the basis of two periods of wet weather each year. But over successive years there has been very little rain. The region is now experiencing the driest conditions for decades and the worst drought in 40 years. In some places, groundwater (the reservoirs of water that lie under the ground) has offered some reprieve, but even that precious resource is disappearing as more water is pumped to the surface for use by families and livestock.

The misery doesn’t end there. As local crops fail, communities are forced to buy food produced elsewhere which, as we all know, is getting more and more expensive. The outlook for many is uncertain and worrying.

"In the face of all this, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and wonder just how to help people living with uncertainty in increasingly hostile climates. One practical way we offer is to contribute to the building of a sand dam."

A fully functioning dam can play a part in keeping rural communities in the places they know best. It provides a source of water to help local people during dry periods of weather when the rain doesn’t fall. When the wet weather eventually comes, as we all hope it will soon, a sand dam provides a long-term reservoir of water within sand (that builds up behind the dam wall), helping to recharge groundwater and regenerating and regreening land which otherwise may be abandoned.

This is the focus of our latest campaign, to help communities in drylands invest in sand dams so they still have water to drink and for farming during prolonged drought seasons.

For the local people, this is an investment in their future and means they may not have to worry quite as much about the weather.

Want to make a donation towards a sand dam project and have it doubled for free!? Click here to find out more about our Big Give Green Match Fund campaign