Published in November 2012

Excellent Development and Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF) recently hosted a training course for four organisations from around the world to learn first-hand about the siting, design, construction and impacts of sand dams in drylands.Members of the Jal Bhagirathi Foundation team, and others, on a sand dam learning visit to Africa Sand Dam Foundation with Excellent Development

The organisations included:

  • The Jal Bhagirathi Foundation (JBF) from Rajasthan, India (who attended with the support of the European Union)
  • Social Change and Development (SCAD) from Tamil Nadu, India
  • The Initiatives of Change (IofC), an international NGO with representatives from northern Kenya
  • Catholic Relief Services (CRS) from Tanzania

Each of these groups had a special interest in understanding more about the benefits and impacts of sand dams as well as whether, and how, they could introduce sand dams to the communities they work within their own regions - all of which are experiencing similar problems with water and food insecurity.

Our week-long course included theory and practical sessions. Participants commented on how much they enjoyed the importance given to practical sessions in the field and how much they learned from them. Harold Msanya from Catholic Relief Services said: “I really like this training. I really like going out into the field every day alongside learning the theory. I really like it.”

"We all benefited immensely from the sand dam training. The ASDF faculty and Excellent Development team worked very hard to make the programme successful. Theory and field work were well balanced with dedication and professionalism."

Kishan Singh, Jal Bhagirathi Foundation, India.

Many of the participants were deeply impressed by the emphasis on community-driven development in ASDF’s work. Kishan Singh from JBF said: “This is a role model of socio-economic development. ASDF is a catalyst for the big social change that is happening in this area. The government model has failed where the ASDF model has succeeded, much like the situation with JBF because of the implicit faith placed in the community. Unless there is faith in the community inherent development is not reached.” He added: “Communities initiate a project, are involved throughout, and reap the benefits.”

Harold Msanya added: "One of the things (we lacked) was a community project that was owned by the community and cost-effective. In most cases (our) communities have said: 'you have taught us soil and water conservation practices but there is no reliable water.’"

“Sand dams provide a reliable source of water for (river) catchments for their rejuvenation and therefore improve the environment, people, and (food) production... Shallow wells are not viable because there is not enough water in the aquifer, but sand dams can help that...

“Moreover, sand dams will provide water for vegetables and horticulture during the dry (season) and therefore increase resilience through the dry season.”

Harold is now keen to initiate similar projects in the CRS Integrated Water Management Initiative in Tanzania.

Through learning visits such as this, we share our knowledge of sand dams to enable organisation working in drylands all around the world to apply them to their own regions. This is how the lives of millions of the world’s poorest people will be transformed through sand dams.

Want to join us on a sand dam learning visit? Get in touch!