As our supporters, you have already done so much to enable dryland communities to completely transform their lives with water. On behalf of the communities we support, we are truly grateful for your help.

And yet, there are still millions of people living in poverty in the drylands of the world, whose lives are dominated by the chore of collecting and carrying heavy jerry cans of water each day. They have precious little time left for producing food, or earning a living. Many are forced to rely on food aid and handouts; many children often go to bed hungry.

This February, can you help more people free themselves from walking for hours to collect water, and to have the tools, seeds and training to grow enough crops to feed their children?

Theresa Musyoka, a member of the Kakai self-help group in southeast Kenya, has a farm which is flourishing with grains and pulses, thanks to a nearby sand dam. She can sell the grains at local markets to buy meat, eggs, fruit, vegetables and milk. She is able to give her baby, Precious (pictured together above), the best chance of growing up to be strong and healthy.

But for many children in drylands across the world, their story is different. Without access to a reliable supply of water, or enough food, many are at risk from malnutrition – both from a lack of nutrients in their food, and also from the devastating effects of diarrhoea caused by drinking unclean water.

Nearly half of child deaths worldwide are linked to malnutrition. And even for those who do survive, many must live with the consequences; malnutrition affects their ability to learn, to grow, to play, and makes them more prone to illness.

For as long as they could remember, in the dry season, Theresa and her neighbours spent nearly all day collecting water. Water was rationed, and the only viable option was to wake up at 3am to collect water from the overcrowded water points. Each household would get a maximum of only two 20 litre jerry cans, meaning that livestock would sometimes go for days without water.

There was not enough water to wash clothes regularly, so dirty school uniforms led to frequent cases of ring worm and other skin diseases amongst children. To make matters worse, water points were sometimes polluted by animal dung. Despite their vulnerability to waterborne diseases, parents had no choice but to give their young children unsafe water to drink.

Underlying all of this was the damaging effects of malnutrition. Ravaged by stomach upsets, young bodies simply couldn’t absorb enough of the scant nutrients available. The children were at risk of stunted growth, having less capacity to learn at school – or worse, not growing up at all.

Things couldn’t be more different now for the Kakai self-help group. Together, thanks to nearby sand dams, they have a clean, reliable year-round source of water situated, for most, only one kilometre or less from their homes. And they have also been trained in sustainable farming methods such as digging deep terracing and planting drought-tolerant seeds and trees.

For Theresa and Precious, the nearest sand dam is only 200 metres away from home. Theresa beamed with happiness as she explained what a difference this has made to her farm, and to her family’s life:

"I only used to plant three acres and gain very little, but now I’m planting the whole six acres. I no longer have to walk long distances, and I no longer have to take contaminated water. My family is cleaner, our clothes are cleaner."

There are many more communities like Kakai, who are waiting for the chance to build a sand dam – so they can develop their farms and begin to work their way out of poverty. They just need some help to get themselves started. Here are some of the essential tools and materials that your support could provide:

- £20 could provide a parent with a shovel and 14 kgs of drought-tolerant seeds, including pigeon peas, cowpeas, green grams, dolichos, finger millet and pearl millet

- £40 could provide a wheelbarrow, to enable a community to move heavy stones on the sand dam site, so they can provide their children with clean water to drink

 £60 could provide seeds, seedling bags and gardening equipment to help plant a mango or papaya tree nursery, providing nutritious fruit for the community

Thank you so much for your dedicated support to people in drylands, giving them the helping hand they need to break free of poverty and completely transform their lives with water.

We hope you can help again with a donation, so that more dryland communities are able to provide their families with clean water to drink, and enough food for their children to eat.

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