improving daily lives
Sand dams bring water within 30 minutes of people's homes - saving time and improving health.
Collecting water in rural drylands is a daily chore. Many women and girls spend as much as 12 hours each day just collecting water for their families.
That's 12 hours carrying up to 20kg of water on their heads or back every day.
Sand dams supply a lifetime of clean water close to home - providing much needed relief.
Sand dams also protect water from contamination - filtering it clean through sand.
In Kenya, 400 women per 100,000 die in child birth. Having a source of water close to home greatly reduces this risk.
Sand dams also enable people in rural drylands to grow more food.
But not only a greater quantity and quality, but more diverse and nutritious too.
More than 3.4 million people die from water-related diseases every year. The biggest killers among children under five are malaria and diarrhoea – the latter one rarely prompting a hospital visit here in the UK. The problems are unprotected stagnant water sources that attract mosquitoes and other
parasites such as bilharzia.
The unique thing about a sand dam is that the water is filtered clean through the sand and stored below the surface, protecting it from contamination. When the water is then abstracted through a pipe, it comes out clean and protects those who drink it from disease.
A secure water supply enables a greater range of foods to be grown. Diverse and nutritious diets are vital for improved health. More animal fodder can be grown too, and fatter livestock means more meat and more milk, which is especially valuable for children’s health. A good diet is key to giving children a better start in life.
Women and children shoulder the greatest burden of collecting water in rural Africa. They often walk between 6 and 12 hours a day, carrying up to 20Kg of water on their heads or backs. For women, this responsibility persists even during pregnancy. The health risks are not hard to imagine. Women sometimes give birth or miscarry when they are far away from home or help. All in the daily course of collecting water.
Charles Mutua Kyeviti of the Ithime Self-Help Group said:
“Some of [the women] went to fetch water when they were pregnant and maybe due to that problem of carrying water on their backs some of them miscarried or gave birth on their way back from the water points. Through the sand dam we have solved that problem and we are aware that the health of the women has improved."
In Kenya, where 400 women per 100,000 die in child birth (compared to 8 in the UK)*, having a source of water closer to home can minimise the risk that pregnant women are exposed to every day.
Diarrhoea caused by unclean water is one of the world’s greatest killers, claiming the lives of five times as many children as HIV/AIDS.
UNDP Human Development Report 2006