Published in August 2019

Back in July I made a trip to Kenya to see the work Excellent is doing on the ground and to start planning the next generation of sand dams we hope to invest in next year working with local experts and village communities.

Like all my other visits, this was a whistle-stop tour. I wanted to visit as much as possible in the time I had. Every day was important.

I started in the southeast of the country where most of the sand dams we have supported have been built. I wanted to see first hand what difference two sand dams, in particular, are making; two dams which as always, were built by the local community, but this time also with volunteers from the UK and Isle of Man.

They say ‘seeing is believing’, and it’s true. Even though the two new dams are only a year old, the area around them is transformed. Where there was largely bare earth with a few trees, there is now terracing and the first generation of crops.

Tomatoes, beans, watermelon, maize, cabbages and kale are all flourishing. Citrus and mango trees have been planted and will, in an astonishingly short space of time, bear fruit. The local produce tasted delicious.

Before the sand dams were built, it was unusual to see people farming in such a barren landscape, especially during the dry season. Now the area is busy with people growing and tending crops and keeping an eye on their cattle and donkeys; who can also now benefit from the clean supply of water.

With the memory of those productive agricultural terraces foremost in my mind, I spent the second half of the week looking at prospective sand dams in the north of Kenya. As I flew over the dry landscape of the Northern Rangelands, I could visualise how the area might be transformed by the construction of sand dams, providing water for the pastoralists and their livestock, as well as the local wildlife; including leopards, elephants and zebra. Of course, this vision will only be visualised with your continued support...

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