Published March 2019

Anniversaries and birthdays seem to come around ever more rapidly these days. So when I saw in the diary that the UN’s World Water Day (March 22) was approaching, my first reaction was ‘that’s come around quickly’. My second was to reflect on the scale of water scarcity across the world. It is a widespread problem today and one that is set to get worse unless action is taken now.

This year’s theme is Water for All. It reminds global, national and local governments and the development community of the UN goal to ensure safe water for all by 2030. That’s only 10 years away and there is still so much to be done, particularly to help marginalised groups that sometimes get overlooked in the drive to provide clean and safe water close to those that need it. At Excellent Development, we know from our work on the ground that it is often women and children who carry the burden of collecting water from rivers and streams a long way from their homes. Often it’s the same mothers and their sons and daughters who suffer the consequences if water is dirty and contaminated. The UN is reminding us all that we must do everything we can to make sure these groups are not left behind.

"We have now enabled dryland communities to build 1,078 sand dams, providing lifelong access to water for over 1,029,000 people, with impact that we hope our supporters are proud to share."

David Jordan OBE, Chairman of Excellent Development.

The figures supporting World Water Day on the current state of water scarcity make sober reading. 2.1 billion people still live without safe water at home. Astoundingly, two thirds of the population experience water scarcity for at least one month a year. That figure really did make me reel as did the UN’s estimated impact of increased water scarcity as changes in the global climate become more extreme.

At Excellent Development we are doing everything we can to support those living in dry areas to transform their own lives, helping them to develop sustainable ways of overcoming water scarcity so that they can thrive and not have to resort to migrating from their homes just to find clean water. We have now enabled dryland communities to build 1,078 sand dams, providing lifelong access to water for over 1,029,000 people, with impact that we hope our supporters are proud to share.

In southeast Kenya, for example, the Meko Maw’o self-help group completed their first sand dam in May 2018 (see photo above). The community had been depending on water from River Thwake which is over 15 kilometres away and was known to be contaminated. The sand dam is now slowly starting to fill up. It will become a nearby source of dependable and clean water over the next few years. The women who had been spending so much of their time collecting water will be able to concentrate on growing crops to help feed their families. Girls and boys who frequently missed lessons will be able to go to school. 

We want everyone to benefit from the reward of clean water that sand dams bring. Leaving no one behind is a phrase that will stay with me as we plan the next 2-3 years of work.

Sand dams enable dryland communities to transform their own lives with lifelong access to clean water. Please donate what you can to help create sustainable futures, leaving no one behind

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