Climate change remains a great threat to people and the world we inhabit. Here at Excellent, we continue to support dryland communities hit hardest by worsening droughts, erratic rainfall, extreme heat and land degradation, leading to widespread food and water insecurity.

Already, water scarcity currently affects between 1-2 billion people, most of whom live in drylands. Yet as populations and demand for water grow (especially now during the global COVID-19 pandemic), and the effects of climate change continue to intensify, this is set to worsen.

Drylands cover 40% of the world’s land surface, and are home to more than 2 billion people. They are characterised by frequent, severe droughts, with water scarcity a daily challenge for the communities here. When it does rain, water from heavy downpours runs off the bone-dry land, taking valuable fertile soil with it.

Climate change is intensifying these droughts, making them longer and more frequent, and coupled with unsustainable farming practices, is causing dryland areas to turn into desert. As global temperatures continue to rise, crop yields in sub-Saharan Africa will fall dramatically, putting increased pressure on communities already struggling to grow their own food.

We need to act now, so that communities living in drought-ridden regions can access clean water and transform their lives and land, ravaged by the devastating effects of global warming. 

This is where sand dams come in. They help communities combat the impacts of climate change, and provide a year-round supply of clean water, close to their homes. 

Tabitha“The changes which have been brought about by these sand dams are massive. Before the construction of this sand dam, this place where we are sitting was completely dry; there were no crops. All the green you can see around here has happened after the construction of this dam.”

Tabitha Musyoki, member of Muuo wa Kasyelia self-help group, southeast Kenya.

A sand dam is a concrete wall built across a sandy riverbed that can capture up to 40 million litres of water, replenishing every rainy season. That water is stored within the sand, where it is safe from disease and evaporation. See here how a sand dam works:

Not only do sand dams provide communities with a lifelong supply of clean water, they also play a key role in reversing land degradation and desertification, by recharging groundwater levels both above and below the sand dam. The difference this makes to the local environment is astonishing, enabling vegetation to regenerate and increasing biodiversity, so that whole areas can flourish once again.

Mirriam Mukanga, farmer from Muuo wa Kasyelia self-help group, southeast Kenya“I have been able to plant bananas! Before we built the sand dams this just wasn’t possible, because bananas need a lot of water: about three litres a day. Recently I had an income of 5,000 Kenyan Shillings from the sale of my vegetables. I plan to use the money from my sales to invest in more land, so that I can grow even more!”

Mirriam Mukanga, member of Muuo wa Kasyelia self-help group, southeast Kenya.

But that’s not all that we do. We also support communities to implement climate-smart, sustainable farming techniques, so that they can diversify their crops and grow more food to eat and sell, despite the increasingly harsh climate in which they live.

Techniques such as terracing of the land and tree planting also help to transform the environment; helping to promote water and soil conservation by preventing water run-off and retaining valuable top-soil.

With your support we can help even more communities living in drylands to access clean water that is close to home, and combat climate change with sand dams and climate-smart agriculture. 

Here is just an example of how your support could help these communities:

£15 could provide a dryland farmer with drought-tolerant seeds, to grow a reliable source of fresh food for their children

£30 could supply a community with a rake, gardening fork, shovel and watering cans, to plant trees for fruit, fuel and fodder

£60 could provide a community with a roll of barbed wire, to reinforce their sand dam

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for your continued support during these challenging times. We hope you will be able to support us today, at a time which is most critical to communities living with the adverse effects of water scarcity and climate change.

Please donate what you can to support dryland communities to access clean water and combat climate change with sand dams and climate-smart agriculture

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