Published in March 2021

What does water mean to you? That’s the question being asked on World Water Day. Normally, when the storm clouds are gathering, I would probably be thinking about how much rain is on the way. In the heat of the summer, I might wonder if the veg patch needs a bit of water.

Sadly, there are millions in the world for whom water simply means survival. It means planning the day around finding a source of water that is not contaminated then making a long journey to collect enough for drinking, cooking cleaning and washing. Imagine how grueling that daily quest for water must be.

World Water Day reminds us about the literally billions of women, men and children who live without access to safe water. And worryingly there is not much good news to report.

Progress on the global pledge to ensure water and sanitation for all by 2030 is off track with an estimated 2.2 billion people still without access to clean water. Competing pressures on lakes and rivers mean that even existing sources of water are under threat.

Then add in the impact of climate change which is making access to clean water harder and more unpredictable. This cocktail of pressures means that in some parts of the world such as Sub Saharan Africa (one of the regions Excellent Development is supporting with sand dam and climate-smart agriculture projects), the number of people without safely managed drinking water is increasing, not decreasing.

"With the support of the international community, sand dams can be part of the solution, and make clean water a real means of survival and prosperity to so many more people."

In response to the 2021 stock take on the state of water across the world (you can download the report here), the UN is recommending a massive acceleration of efforts to ensure future generations are not plagued with water poverty.

Here at Excellent, we know that there is great potential for more sand dams. Once built, sand dams last for upwards of 60 years, providing access to clean water for life. Sand dams also raise the surrounding water table, leading to ‘re-greening’ of areas, in turn enabling communities to grow more food to eat, store and sell.

And unlike other water solutions, sand dams recharge groundwater levels and capture water that would otherwise run-off while allowing most water to continue downstream. Water infiltrates the soil, promoting vegetation regrowth, in turn reducing soil erosion and saving topsoil, and providing a healthier, more productive environment.

Local community participation, an aid to economic development and adaptation to climate change are all vital extras. With the support of the international community, sand dams can be part of the solution, and make clean water a real means of survival and prosperity to so many more people.

Please consider making a donation to Excellent so we can empower families in drylands to build brighter futures for themselves with sand dams and access to clean water

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