Published in July 2018

Excellent's Chairman, David Jordan, reports from this summer's sand dam expedition...

In any walk of life it’s good to get back to basics. For the retail executive it might means spending a day meeting customers. For the captains of industry it’s walking the shop floor and for the head teacher it’s taking a class and listening to the children under their care. For me it’s about working with others to build a sand dam that will liberate a community from water poverty.

So this month I have been rolling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty in Makueni County, southeast Kenya. Each day I worked alongside different groups of people. Some were local people from Kyamuisu Development, a new self-help group which has about a hundred members. Others were experienced volunteers from the African Sand Dam Foundation, and some were Excellent Development’s very own volunteers. Everyone was buoyed up with a common purpose, to build a sand dam and help improve people’s lives.

"The sand dam will change the course of their lives for the better."

Physical work has many rewards. At the end of every day you can see the progress that has been made. A few aching muscles maybe but a happy heart more than compensates for that. That shared feeling of accomplishment is hard to beat. We broke a few records too. On one particular day we mixed and poured 600 bags of concrete to lay the foundations of the sand dam – the previous record was 426.  

There is more work to do on the sand dam before it starts to do its job of storing water, but in the relatively short time I was there, we broke the back of the hard work.

Once it is functioning, the sand dam will provide a reliable source of water for drinking and cooking. Local farmers will be able to use their time to expand the range of crops they grow and even expand into new types of agriculture. The sand dam will change the course of their lives for the better.

This particular sand dam is important in other ways too. As a first for the Kyamuisu Development self-help group, it should lead the way for many other similar developments in that part of the world.

The next time I will be in southeast Kenya is September, when I look forward to supporting Kyekuyu self-help group to build their first sand dam. And, who knows, maybe I’ll be back there next year helping Kyamuisu to build a second sand dam. Let me know if you fancy rolling up your sleeves and joining in!

Find out more about our sand dam expeditions