Published in September 2021

One thing the last 18 months of a global pandemic has taught us is the importance of building resilience. Millions of people trapped at home needed support to ensure they didn’t become isolated and despondent. Health services needed new ways of reaching out to those isolating to make sure they had food, medicines and contact with the outside world. And businesses and governments needed ways of functioning despite many having to follow instructions to lock down and stay at home. Building resilience helps everyone make it through difficult times.

In the last few decades, many in the international development sector have focused more on building resilience among their beneficiaries. Of course, emergency aid and help are still needed, but our focus at Excellent Development is how to equip individuals and communities in drylands to make it through challenging circumstances - and transform their own lives and land for the long-term with sand dams and clean water.

There are many starting points for building resilience, but as is the case for many of our programmes, it starts with engaging with the communities, finding out their needs, the impact water scarcity and climate change is having on their lives and in their area, and their enthusiasm for participating in a sand dam project. With this local recognition and sense of ownership, beneficiaries are empowered and prepared to work their way out of poverty, for themselves and their families.

"In the face of climate change, land degradation and desertification, farmers have had to think differently about cultivating land and the crops they grow. That’s why many of our sand dam projects include training for the women and men who farm the land around the sand dam."

Developing essential climate-smart agriculture skills and knowledge sharing within the communities we and our in-country partners work with is another key component of building resilience. Yes, a well-constructed sand dam will provide access to clean water to local people, but that’s just the beginning. In the face of climate change, land degradation and desertification, farmers have had to think differently about cultivating land and the crops they grow. That’s why many of our sand dam projects include training for the women and men who farm the land around the sand dam.

Climate change will bring more challenging times. It is estimated that the number of weather-related disasters has already increased fivefold in the last 50 years, driven by climate change and extreme weather. And we know what weather is in store for the world’s drylands; more droughts and an unpredictable shift in patterns of rainfall.

But with extra investment we can continue our work, enable more sand dams to be built, get more farmers equipped to improve and protect their local environments; and in turn help those in arid areas to prepare for the future. That’s why we have launched a campaign to raise essential funds to help vulnerable dryland communities build climate resilience.

As always, thank you for your support. By helping communities to build sand dams you are helping to build resilience too.

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