Recent evidence from Sand Dams Worldwide’s partners in Zimbabwe show how sand dams have improved the quality of water for dryland communities in the region...

A sand dam is a reinforced concrete wall built across a seasonal sandy river. rowa pump zimbabweThey are the cheapest method of conserving water in drylands – providing an improved, reliable source of water close to people’s homes.

During the rainy season, a seasonal river forms that carries soil (made up of silt and sand) downstream. The heavier sand accumulates behind the dam, whilst the lighter silt is carried downstream.

Within one to four rainy seasons, the dam fills with sand. But, up to 40% of the volume behind the dam is actually water, trapped in the spaces between the sand; allowing an improved groundwater storage capacity. The water harvested by the rain is filtered when it passes through the sand, improving the water quality following the same principle of a slow sand filter.

Further evidence to demonstrate sand dam water is clean solidifies what the communities we work with have been telling us for a long time – that the water from sand dams is potable.

92.3% of sand dams that have a Rowa Handpump installed provide water that is completely free of faecal coliforms and bacteria

Dabane Trust, our partner in Zimbabwe (pictured) have found that 92.3% of sand dams that have a Rowa Handpump* installed provide water that is completely free of faecal coliforms and bacteria, also having acceptable levels of turbidly (cloudiness of the water) – importantly, this meets WHO’s standards for clean water consumption and therefore has no risk for the consumer.

The remaining 7.7% of dams tested are considered as having low risk according to WHO standards, which will also have a substantial difference upon the health of the communities we work with.

The data also shows that we are contributing to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: To ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

With better quality of water comes less illness, and less illness brings a wealth of opportunities in income generation, education and many other areas of life – breaking the cycle of poverty and sustainably improving the lives of dryland communities.

Note: Rowa Handpumps* are a novel water abstraction technology created by Dabane Trust. Dabane are looking to go global with the technology, implementing it in other countries including Mozambique and Colombia.

£10 a month could provide safe water for life for one person, every month