Water crises are becoming more and more frequent in countries such as South Africa. In the face of droughts and water shortages, Excellent's work becomes even more important in ensuring access to clean water for dryland areas.

According to recent reports, South Africa is currently in the grips of a severe water shortage crisis. Water levels in traditional dams have dropped by over 10% compared to last year’s supplies, with much of the country imposing wide-ranging water restrictions and cut-offs.

There are now some 1 million people without reliable access to water in the central Free State province alone. South Africa’s minister for water and sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, notes how ‘South Africa like many other parts of the globe is seeing a very dry season getting longer, more intense, and more frequent’.

South Africa is not alone in facing this crisis, with member states across the Southern African Development Community (SADC) experiencing soaring temperatures and ever less reliable rainfall. Whilst boreholes and fines for improper water use are being rolled out across South Africa, Sisulu stresses how they must “start disaster proofing” and mitigating the effects of climate change.

As rainfall becomes ever less predictable and with average temperatures on course to rise over the coming decades, it is of the utmost importance that those in arid regions are prepared for water shortages and drought. This is of particular importance in nations such as South Africa and those within the SADC, whose populations will be at ever-increasing risk.

Shallow well pump - Ngao ya Kiome

Excellent seeks to help communities in dryland regions such as these to ensure greater water security for themselves, even through periods of intense drought. By enabling the construction of sand dams, which are reinforced walls built across sandy seasonal riverbeds that capture rainwater, communities can begin to do just this. Sand dams can hold up to 40 million litres of water stored within sand, which protects it from evaporation and contamination. They can provide a clean water source for a community throughout the year, which is essential in improving health and ensuring food security.

Beyond this, alongside in-country partners, Excellent aims to help train communities in climate-smart farming techniques including terracing, developing seed banks and growing drought-resistant crops and trees. These projects can help communities to secure for themselves a reliable source of water for the future and all the benefits that come with such a resource, such as increased income from higher crop yields and less time spent having to collect water from distant and unreliable sources.

Excellent plans to continue providing support to projects that we are already involved with and expand beyond into new regions that will become ever more at risk. If you would like to learn more about sand dams, read here or get in touch with us at [email protected].

Written by: Freddie Rollason (Excellent Development volunteer)

Photo credit (top banner): Abspires40 (Flickr)

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