Published in October 2019

Sometimes the most important news doesn’t make the headlines. That’s my conclusion having just returned from three weeks in Kenya working alongside a group of wonderful volunteers from Jersey Overseas Aid and assessing new sand dam sites.

Political drama at home and abroad certainly generates attention-grabbing headlines. But what about the carefully researched news from independent observers about the state of the world and the places we live?

While I was away, the UK’s annual state of nature was released. It makes sobering reading. All the trends show a continuing decline in the populations and distribution of even common species here in the UK. This is despite a growing awareness of the plight of our homegrown nature. Of course, there are some successes with individual species such as otters returning to many UK rivers as a result of improved environmental quality, but these successes are dwarfed by negative trends.

This news mirrors last year’s Living Planet Report on trends in global populations of plants and animals. In Africa, where we are most active helping communities to build sand dams, the outlook for birds, mammals, fish and amphibians is not good if things go on as they are. The next Living Planet Report is due in 2020. It will show us whether the global community has started to reverse historic declines in nature but the runes are not looking good.

With this in mind, on my last trip to Kenya, I spent some time in Tsavo National Park with Kenya Wildlife Service to investigate how sand dams can help halt wildlife decline as well as providing water to local people. This has to be the way forward if we are to tackle the growing pressures of climate change and species extinction together.

Closer to home, one headline that grabbed the attention of our office and supporters was the news that Excellent Development was the winner of the 2019 Charity Times small charity of the year. This is a highly contested award and praise must go to the dedicated team that keep the show on the road and help us make a difference to so many people and their local environment.

P.S. If anyone wants a day by day account of my sand dam prospecting expeditions you can follow me on Twitter @David_R_Jordan

Sand dams enable rural dryland farmers to transform their own lives, reducing the time and effort spent on collecting water so that communities can focus on developing sustainable futures. Please donate to help more rural people invest in their own livelihoods, and become self-sustaining for generations to come.

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Photo credit: Fredrik Lerneryd