Published in October 2020

Sometimes, it is hard to remember what life was like before COVID-19. At the start of 2020, few of us were familiar with the name of the virus that has had such a dramatic effect on the people across the world. It really does feel like a different world. But of course, there was ‘life before COVID’. I was reminded of this when reviewing Excellent Development’s 2019/20 annual report.

With the current disruption to our daily lives, it’s easy to forget that Excellent’s last financial year (April 2019 to March 2020) was a busy one. The figures speak for themselves. With your help, another 60 dams were built in arid areas, bringing the total number of dams created since we started work back in 2002 to 1,158 (and with a further 11 sand dams built since March 2020 that brings out lifetime total to 1,169).

Perhaps more impressive is the headline figure of the number of people who now have access to clean water as a result of our work over the last 18 years; that’s over 1.1 million women, men and children who we’ve helped to transform their own lives as they no longer have to worry where and how to get enough water. 

"Remembering last year will help us stay on course as we plan for the future, whatever the difficulties and challenges that are put in our path." 

Last year also saw us laying the foundations for new programmes in countries experiencing water scarcity. In line with our strategy we started to branch out into new parts of the world, and we are now in the process of enabling the benefits of sand dams to dryland communities living in the arid belts of Ethiopia and Malawi. We are also hoping to add Namibia to the list of countries benefiting from sand dams after an early reconnaissance trip there last year.

It’s early days for these fledgling projects but the growing interest in climate change impact and the link between water and public health means we will be putting energy into those countries where the potential for sand dams to alleviate water scarcity is huge. Watch this space.

The scientific case for sand dams is becoming stronger. In line with our long-term plans and with the help of diligent researchers from our friends at the universities of Warwick, Cranfield and Oxford, 2019/20 saw endorsement of what we have known for a long time about the far-reaching benefits of sand dams. We can now say with increased confidence that, as a result of providing clean water for drinking and farming, sand dams can reduce the number of people falling sick by half and make a significant reduction to the number of people living in poverty. These pieces of evidence really do strengthen our resolve to bring sand dam projects to more people that lack a dependable water supply.

So, yes, there was life before COVID. Looking back over last year’s achievements, I am buoyed by the really good things Excellent has done and will continue to do in the future. Remembering last year will help us stay on course as we plan for the future, whatever the difficulties and challenges that are put in our path. 

Please donate what you can today and protect children’s health and education with school water tanks and access to clean water

Please select a donation amount (required)
Set up a regular payment Donate