See how, with our partners Africa Sand Dam Foundation, we are supporting rural communities with soil and water conservation in Kenya.
Climate change is causing large areas of drylands to turn into desert - making water increasingly inaccessible for rural communities.
Women and children in Kenya must often spend up to 12 hours a day just collecting water.
Sand dams create the opportunity to escape a life of subsistence: giving hope for generations.
Rock catchments harvest rain water from steep rocky outcrops...
...and funnel it to water tanks where it is safely stored.
School water tanks save children hours of time a day that can now be invested in their education.
It is the communities we work with that make these projects a success.
The communities we support invest at least 25% of the resources needed to complete every project.
Caught in a dryland trap
Dryland regions are tough places to live. Rainfall is erratic and water from heavy downpours runs off the bone dry land and disappears to the oceans, taking valuable fertile soil with it. To make things worse, climate change is causing vast dryland areas to turn into desert.
Drylands support 74% of the world's poor. Most of these live in rural areas. Here, the constant search for water traps millions of people in a vicious cycle of subsistence. Women and children often spend 6 to 12 hours a day trailing across parched scrubland to collect water, often from unclean rivers and unsafe sources. In times of drought it can take even longer.
Change starts with water and water starts with a sand dam
This constant search for water means that people have no time to invest in things like agriculture and education. So they are trapped in a situation they have no power to improve.
That's why sand dams make such a difference. They are the world’s cheapest method of capturing rainwater and this ancient, but quite brilliant, technology can help provide a year-round supply of water that gives hope for generations to come.
Other water solutions
Rural dryland communities have often worked the land for generations. They know what they need to kick start their future: water. Very often the best water solution is a sand dam. But, where conditions are not right for a sand dam to succeed, we can work together to support other water solutions:
Rock catchments utilise the surface run-off of water from flat rocky outcrops on hill tops. By building channels around the rock, rainwater is guided into a pipeline that supplies one or more water tanks. Rock catchments collect up to 150,000 litres per tank for domestic use.
School water tanks
In many countries in Africa, children are expected to bring water to school for cooking, cleaning and drinking. Collecting this water steals hours from every child’s school day. Making water available close to school means children can spend more time learning. Having a free and available water supply also keeps children hydrated: helping them to make the most out of each school day. Water tanks store rain water collected from the roof of schools. A typical school roof in Kenya collects up to 100,000 litres of water every rainfall. Water tanks will last 25 years and require little maintenance. Each one provides water for generations of children.
We’d have achieved nothing without local people
Since 2002, we have supported the construction of more than 400 sand dams. But not one of them would have been possible without the wholehearted commitment of local people. They build their sand dams. They dig their terraces. They plant their trees.
We play the small, but crucial role, of providing vital materials, training, guidance and support. We are there when needed; providing examples of sustainable farming practice, sharing proven knowledge and suggesting techniques to maximise food production.
It is the communities we work with that make sand dams succeed. In fact, they invest at least 25% of the resources needed to complete every project.
I am old. My teeth are not all there. But, I will never stop collecting water from my sand dam. That’s how proud I am... Now there is enough water for everything.
Mary Syokwia Kising’u, Kithaayoni self-help group, Kenya.