In Kenya, where only 50% of children make it to secondary school level, sand dams have a huge potential to raise the prospects of the youngest generation.
In Kenya, children who live near sand dams save an average of five hours each day that can now be invested in their education.
But sand dams not only free children's time to go to school, they also enable parents to grow more food and generate an income that can be invested in their children's future.
Improved access to water and better diets allow children to develop to their full potential.
Sand dams increase school attendance by freeing valuable time and improving health.
Children in rural Kenya are expected to bring water to school every day for cooking, cleaning and drinking. If they don't, they are often sent away. They must brave the dry and dusty heat to find water somewhere, somehow, or simply go home and miss out on a day at school. Often they have to take two hours out of the middle of their school day to collect water so they can have lunch.
This is not an act of cruelty. It is just the harsh reality of living with severe water shortages. Education is therefore one of the big winners when it comes to water harvesting solutions.
Children in communities with sand dams save on average five hours a day for their education. That's a lot of time to invest in their future. A future, which parents like Regina hope, will be brighter than that of previous generations.
“The children, before we had the sand dam, used to use a lot of time to get the water and carry it to school. They also carried firewood. It is tedious work. But right now, because the water is available, they are using little time to get the water. So most of the hours they have, they can do quality studies at the school.”
Regina Makao, Malaika Self-Help Group, Kenya
In addition to sand dams, we also support communities to build school water tanks, which capture rainwater directly at schools, saving children even more time.
Money for education
The water from Sand dams enables increased crop yields in the communities we support. Not only are parents using money earned from selling these crops to pay for their children's school fees, sometimes parents - like Charles in the film above - use the crops directly in exchange for their children's education.
In Kenya where only 50% of children make it to secondary school level, sand dams have a huge potential to raise the prospects of the youngest generation. They not only free up children's time to go to school, they also enable their parents to generate income to invest in their children's education.
It's not just the time at school that counts. The ability to concentrate and learn is equally important. Malnutrition is a major problem in rural drylands, especially for children. The gowing brains of five year-olds require 44% of their total energy consumption. Poor diets and disease serve to steal this energy away, meaning that they may never reach their full potential.
The many diarrhoea-causing bugs are the biggest threat for children’s development. They prevent the absorption of nutrients at time when they are needed most. Sand dams and school water tanks provide a safe, reliable source of water at children's schools and enable families to grow more diverse foods.
Improved diets and access to clean water are key to reducing diarrhoea and helping children to realise their full potential.
During my time [as a child] we used to go to school with jerrycans and after school we went to fetch water. I want my children to live a better life than I used to live so that they may have enough time to concentrate in class.
Albanas Kioko Musau, Self Help Group member, Kenya