As challenges continue to grow for those facing water scarcity in drylands, we take a look at how these challenges are being addressed in Kenya today and how we plan to support communities in achieving water security in the country.

At his country’s first Water and Sanitation Conference, held in October 2019, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta made a speech where he called for children in his country to be educated about sanitation and water wastage from an early age. He also wants improved access to clean water and proper sewer coverage, in a country where the right to both are enshrined within the constitution. The recognition of the importance of access to a clean reliable source of water by the president is significant, but there is still much to do when it comes to making it a reality for dryland communities in Kenya and across the rest of the world.

Especially in smaller dryland communities, which are common in Kenya, it can be difficult to ensure continuous access to water in the face of increasing instances of drought and more unpredictable seasonal rainfall. The challenges that face millions in their daily search for water are many; long walks to a reliable source of water, queues when one arrives and no guarantees that the water you are collecting is clean are just some of the immediate barriers. The knock-on effects reach far beyond these, with limited time to access education for children and lack of time to work for adults being elements that trap people in financial and water poverty.

At Sand Dams Worldwide, we strive to tackle these issues by supporting communities to achieve water security for themselves by utilising sand dams, rock catchments and school water tanks. Working with a variety of local in-country partners, we have helped communities to construct over 1,000 sand dams, more than 150 school water tanks and 12 rock catchments to bring clean water to over 1 million people in nine countries, including thousands of beneficiaries in Kenya. These projects are often coupled with climate-smart agriculture and WASH training, to ensure long-term health and sanitation benefits are secured.

Sand dam - Wendo wa Katuluni

The potential of sand dams, in particular, is huge, with each one being able to provide a drought-resilient source of clean water for over 1,000 people. As the climate of dryland regions becomes ever more uncertain across Africa and other parts of the world, the water security of their 2 billion strong population must be achieved with haste and commitment.

Drylands and the communities that call them home will become only more at risk of water scarcity as the effects of climate change continue to be felt over the coming decades. As such, Sand Dams Worldwide will not only continue its commitment to our existing projects in Kenya and other African countries, but also seek opportunities to support communities in new dryland regions that suffer from severe water insecurity, where sand dams could provide an effective way of helping communities to secure access to water for the future.

Written by: Freddie Rollason (Sand Dams Worldwide volunteer)

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