What are Sand Dams?

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Short film on the miracle of Sand Dams (1:16).

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Sand Dams are the most cost-effective form of rainwater harvesting in drylands.
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A Sand Dam is a reinforced rubble stone masonry wall built across a seasonal sandy riverbed.

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A Sand Dam is a reinforced rubble stone masonry wall built across a seasonal sandy riverbed.

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During the rainy season, a seasonal river forms and carries soil (made up of sand and silt) downstream. The heavy sand accumulates behind the dam, while the light silt washes over the dam wall.

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During the rainy season, a seasonal river forms and carries soil (made up of sand and silt) downstream. The heavy sand accumulates behind the dam, while the light silt washes over the dam wall.

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Within one to four rainy seasons, the dam completely fills with sand. However, up to 40% of the volume held behind the Sand Dam is water, stored between the sand particles.

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Within one to four rainy seasons, the dam completely fills with sand. However, up to 40% of the volume held behind the Sand Dam is water, stored between the sand particles.

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Sand Dams permanently raise the water table, making water easily accessible from traditional scoop holes all year round.

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Pipes built into the Sand Dam wall, and connected to an infiltration gallery, provide water 'on-tap' close to people's homes. Often, the pipes are connected to a tank which allows water to be pumped out for irrigation.

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A hand pump on a sealed shallow well that is connected, via an infiltration gallery, to a Sand Dam.

Find out more about sand dams and how how they are built (7:45)

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At Excellent Development we are passionate about Sand Dams because we know the remarkable impact that they have on people, the environment and even animals. That's why we are determined to promote Sand Dams as 'the best thing since sliced bread!'

Simon Maddrell, Executive Director, Excellent Development.

Download our Sand Dam brochure

Sand Dam A5 Brochure - component

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