Improving the local ecosystem

Conservation of the environment is critical to the economic development of people living in drylands.

Sand dams are a key tool for addressing environmental degradation in drylands. By recharging groundwater and harvesting water close to people's homes, they save people time that can now be invested in sustainable land management: terracing land and planting trees to prevent erosion and keep water in the soil.

Life depends on trees. They absorb carbon dioxide, release oxygen, fertilise soil, reduce erosion and prevent land degradation. At the same time they provide fuel, food for people and animals, compost, building materials and even medicines.

In Africa, 86% of total energy use is fulfilled by biomass. But, unsustainable harvesting has contributed to severe deforestation, which causes environmental degradation and desertification; destroying wildlife and habitats.

Desertification is land degradation resulting from climate change and human activities. It affects a third of the Earth’s land, resulting in poverty and hunger for millions of people in dryland environments.

For the people living in drylands, deforestation means hunger, thirst and fuel shortages. If managed in a sustainable fashion, trees can provide long-term environmental and economic benefits.

For example, through our partners, the Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF), we support communities to use the water from nearby sand dams to plant a variety of trees. To ensure their sustainability, ASDF train community members in how to propagate seedlings and establish tree nurseries near a sand dam for a stable water supply.

The effects of climate change and land degradation have been devastating in many areas across rural drylands. But with sand dams and agricultural projects like this, it is possible to reverse the trend towards deforestation and desertification.

At Sand Dams Worldwide, we have witnessed this time and again since we began our work in 2002. We have seen sand dams transform dusty parched ground into green oases with trees and birds, butterflies and healthy vegetable plots, banana and mango trees that yield fruit even during periods of drought.

Sand Dams Worldwide accredited as a UN Civil Society Organisation by the UNCCD
Find out how many trees Sand Dams Worldwide has supported communities to plant since 2002