Published in January 2019

I have been looking back at Excellent Development’s achievements over the last year. In many ways, it was a tough year. As with many charities, we had to invest more energy in raising the precious funds we need to carry out our work in areas of water poverty. But there were many successes too. We kept our resolve to go on helping those for whom a source of dependable water close to home is a distant dream. 2018 was the year in which we completed our 1,000th sand dam.  And it hasn’t stopped there. Take a look at the vital statistics on our website to see how we are doing.

We have great ambitions for 2019 too. Dozens of new sand dams are planned for countries where water is scarce. In line with our strategy, we will continue to encourage others to take up sand dam technology so many more people get dependable water supplies close to home.

2019 will also see the creation of Excellent Development’s first sand dam in a national park. What has always impressed me about sand dams is their capacity to improve the environment alongside delivering clean water for domestic use. By recharging depleted groundwater and raising the water table they help to stabilise soil and support vegetation. They can quite literally turn the land green. In village communities, this transformation is helped by growing crops. In less populated areas, like national parks, the land turns green through the return of natural vegetation. Once the water is there, the plants return. It’s a kind of re-wilding.

This year we are using sand dam technology to support biodiversity in Tsavo National Park in southeast Kenya (building on our work in Lekurruki, northern Kenya). The park is the largest in Kenya and home to many iconic species; lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras and a wide variety of birdlife. It is also a sanctuary for the endangered black rhino. In partnership with Kenya Wildlife Service, we are building a pilot dam to help re-wild part of the park. When the dam is up and working, the natural vegetation will start to revive. Once established, the colonising plants will help sustain local populations of large mammals and birds, providing water to drink and vegetation for food and cover.

Helping wildlife populations threatened by a changing climate is a worthy goal in its own right. But there may be beneficial spin-offs for local people too.

Money from tourism can be an important source of income for those living close to wildlife parks. As always, we aim to maximise the dividend from investment in sand dams, wherever they are built. This will continue to be our goal and you can keep checking how we are doing. Just keep an eye on those vital statistics.

Photo credit: Flickr user Scott Presnell

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