Published in July 2020

Despite a challenging period for all, this month, the team at Excellent Development have had a couple of uplifting moments, alongside the important day to day business of delivering clean and dependable water supplies to those who need it most.

Firstly, Excellent has been awarded an Energy Global national award for our work in southeast Kenya. This is a prestigious award presented for innovative and sustainable projects across the world. The award recognised the benefits of our approach, working with local people to build sand dams; the cost-effective rainwater harvesting technology that has little to no operating and maintenance costs, and can store up to 40 million litres of water in sand, protected from evaporation and contamination.

We are truly grateful for the award and to those working in the world of international development for recognising the work we are doing, and for considering what we do as a sustainable model for the future. As it is uncertain at this point whether there will be any award ceremonies (due to the global pandemic), I’d like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the team, to thank the Energy Globe panel, as well as our southeast Kenyan in-country and strategic partners, the Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF) – who themselves are celebrating their 10th year working in the field with dryland communities.

"We are truly grateful for the award and to those working in the world of international development for recognising the work we are doing, and for considering what we do as a sustainable model for the future."

Secondly, you may recall that in February this year, before circumstances around the world shifted fundamentally, a group of enthusiastic volunteers travelled to southeast Kenya to work alongside the Muka self-help group (SHG) to help construct their second sand dam. This was a truly international effort with volunteers drawn from the US, Canada, and Sweden as well as all the compass points of the UK. The unseasonal rain in Kenya at the start of the year meant work on this dam had to be rapidly reorganised but the local community members and volunteers quite literally put their backs into the construction.

When we left, we knew that progress to finish the dam would be slowed down once COVID-19 started to have an impact in Kenya. Sure enough, government restrictions on group size meant that local work parties were limited. However, the community (alongside support from ASDF and the Excellent team) persevered, and we have now seen the final stages of the dam take shape. It won’t be long now before the members of Muka SHG will have clean water to drink, wash their hands with and irrigate climate-smart farmland. 

So, international recognition and local successes are both providing a welcome boost as we manoeuvre the ever-changing global health landscape. Both reinforce our resolve to emerge from this pandemic ready to do even more to help those living in drylands to transform their own lives for the better.

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