Published in January 2021

Many of us will remember 2020 with mixed emotions. For three quarters of the year, the pandemic was the main force in our lives. Here in the UK, like with many places around the world, we were ‘locked down’ for weeks on end, witnessed great acts of caring and kindness and learnt to keep our distance from each other. 

In the first few days of 2021, the outlook is also mixed. While the global impact of the virus continues, there is now the promise of vaccines which will protect not only vulnerable people but also those who are on the front line of the global and local response to the pandemic. One thing COVID-19 has shown us is that extraordinary things can be achieved by collective action.

"The pandemic has shown us that things need to change. A fresh start is needed. There is now perhaps a greater understanding of the world around us and how we plan for a better future."

At Excellent Development we have adapted to a world where staff no longer travel to a central office but work remotely with partners to progress and deliver on our sand dam programmes in Africa – despite local restrictions.

So, I am entering 2021 with high expectations and much hope for the future. The pandemic has shown us that things need to change. A fresh start is needed. There is now perhaps a greater understanding of the world around us and how we plan for a better future.

A cornerstone of this new approach will be the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), a big affair in October which will bring together delegates drawn from around the world; heads of governments, climate scientists and campaigners in congregation to agree action needed to tackle climate change. But behind the glitz and niceties, there is serious business to be done.

The impacts of climate change are now better understood than ever before. And the willingness to take action has grown at a government and individual level. The global response to COVID-19 shows that radical change is possible when there is a shared view of the future. And radical change on greenhouse gas emissions is essential if the world is to avoid irreversible changes to the global climate. So, ever the optimist, I start the year hopeful that an ambitious programme of action to tackle climate change will emerge from COP26. But this isn’t the only thing I am hoping for.

We cannot turn back the clock. Recent shifts in weather patterns are here to stay, with investment needed to help vulnerable communities adapt and become resilient to the devastating impacts. And that’s where Excellent Development comes in. All the projects we support are helping families in drylands adapt to the impact climate change is already having in the driest parts of the world (see Mody’s story as an example). We need to both limit climate change impacts and help communities adapt to new weather if we are to hold out real hope for the future.

Please consider making a donation to Excellent so we can empower families in drylands to feed themselves and transform their own lives with sand dams

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