The World Bank has recently (October 19, 2019) published a new detailed study, titled Accelerating Poverty Reduction in Africa’, that examines the various obstacles that still remain to fighting poverty on the continent. Among the wide range of suggestions and observations are a number that are extremely relevant to the work we do here at Sand Dams Worldwide.

One key observation from the study is concerning the deeply uneven nature of poverty across the continent, with three-quarters of those living in poverty being concentrated in only 10 countries. Included among those 10 are Kenya, Mozambique and Malawi, highlighting the continued need for the sand dam and climate-smart agriculture projects that we run in these countries. Also included among the 10 is Tanzania, where Sand Dams Worldwide is currently trying to expand our work through a recent feasibility study assessing the potential for sand dams in two districts in the Dodoma region (Central Tanzania) with a new partner.  

The report goes on to explore how to better reduce poverty in Africa. It asserts that, both in terms of drawing communities out of hardship and ensuring they do not slip back into poverty, it is essential to manage shocks and volatility. Of particular note were mentions of the role drought, ill health and food insecurity play in keeping many locked within poverty and causing some to fall back into it.

These are all areas in which Sand Dams Worldwide’s work is focused. Through the use of sand dams we aim to assist communities in ensuring a secure water source for themselves and their children. Sand dams are able to store year-round clean water for over 1,000 people, water that is trapped within sand behind the dam wall and protected from contamination and evaporation, even in extreme drought. This gives communities a clean and reliable source of water from which they can supply their households easily and irrigate their crops to increase smallholder yields, a key strategy put forward by the World Bank report.

Beyond this, easy and safe access to water allows more time for families to attend to other elements of poverty reduction, such as education of children who are now free from having to walk long distances to collect water.

Tree nursery - Meko Maw

Sand Dams Worldwide also seeks to help communities to better prepare for shocks that can come through an increasingly harsh climate in the arid regions we work in. Through helping to introduce more drought-resistant crops and planting trees around sand dam sites to reverse desertification, we are trying to help communities to bring themselves out of poverty whilst also becoming more resilient to the environmental impacts that might threaten them.

This study highlights the work that has already been done to help draw people out of poverty in Africa, but also shows how much work there is still to be done considering the new threats to come from increasingly erratic climate shocks. We are wholeheartedly committed to helping communities in dryland regions to fight poverty and the growing effects of climate change. However, we cannot do it without your help.

Written by: Freddie Rollason (Sand Dams Worldwide volunteer)

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