11 sand dams have been built since we starting working in northern Kenya in 2015. The impact has been dramatic says Callum Sheehan, Excellent's Programmes Officer.

Excellent Development has been working with the Lekurruki Conservation Trust (LCT) in northern Kenya since 2015. During that time we have enabled the construction of nine sand dams in the area. LCT have been collecting data from the communities living in the Lekurruki Conservancy to understand the impact that the sand dams have had on their lives and on the local areas.

The communities of the Northern Rangelands are pastoralist. This means that their livelihoods revolve around tending to their livestock, and so the people often live nomadic lives, moving with their livestock throughout the year in search of water and fresh pasture.

"The overall abundance of water has increased dramatically as a result of the construction of sand dams. For example Ngarandare River is currently still flowing, despite the fact that it is now well into the dry season. This has not happened since 1997..."

Callum Sheehan, Excellent Development Programmes Officer.

During an initial study conducted in 2015, communities in the Naimaralal and Nandung’oro regions would spend an average of six hours collecting water for domestic use each day during the dry season. In the most recent study conducted in 2018, this figure dropped to just one hour. By decreasing the time it takes to collect water, communities gain the opportunity to focus on other activities such as tending to their livestock and generating incomes.

But the benefits of sand dams in Lekurruki stretch much further than just the time it takes communities to access water. The overall abundance of water has increased dramatically as a result of the construction of sand dams. For example Ngarandare River is currently still flowing, despite the fact that it is now well into the dry season. This has not happened since 1997, a year in which a global climate event, El Niño, caused greater than average rains and disrupted weather patterns across Kenya. Local experts are all certain that the river is still flowing because of the sand dams placed along it.

The local people are also not the only ones to have benefited from the sand dams in Lekurruki. Elephant, zebra, leopard, kudu, baboon and plentiful birdlife have all used the sand dams as watering holes to drink. By providing more water for all, incidences of animal-human conflict have decreased drastically, as there is no longer such dire need and struggles over resources. At the ‘New Picnic’ sand dam, up to 900 livestock are drinking from it every day and the water has still not run out. Furthermore, not only do the livestock have more ready access to water, but they are also much healthier as a result of being able to drink cleaner water than before. Simon Njalis, Lekurruki Conservancy Manager, also explains how increasing access to water has decreased the spread of livestock disease by reducing the number of livestock around one watering point. 

It is clear that the sand dams have had a dramatic impact on all water users in Lekurruki, and will hopefully continue to do so for generations to come.

Please consider making a donation today to enable more pastoralist communities to extend the network of sand dams in the Northern Rangelands, providing their families, neighbours and livestock with clean water for life.

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