Rotary clubs from all over the island of Ireland have got together to build a 'Sand Dam' in the Maasai area of Kenya. A Sand Dam is a cost effective and innovative way of capturing and storing the annual rainfall to provide clean water where people need it all year round.
This part of Kenya has an annual rainfall similar to the UK but unfortunately it falls in a short period of time and it either evaporates or finds its way to the Indian Ocean. Women and children have to walk up to eight hours a day to collect water for their families. This water is often from unclean rivers or unsafe sources, contaminated by animals, parasites and waste from industries. The children in many cases are unable to go to school so their education suffers and the women do not have time to work in their communities.
A Sand Dam a three to five metre high reinforced concrete wall built on the bedrock across a seasonally dry river. After the rainy season, it fills with sand and water for several hundred metres behind the dam, storing up to 20 million litres of water within the sand. The sand prevents the water from evaporating and filters out impurities and protects the water from contamination so that it can be drunk straight out of the sand by digging a shallow hole. Dams take 29 days to build and change lives forever. Water is the catalyst for everything. Water helps to grow crops which can be sold for money that can be used for education. Water is the first step to poverty relief.
Each dam provides a clean water supply for up to 1,200 people, animals and nurseries for trees and vegetables. Furthermore, the effect of improving water availability in a 20km radius means that a sand dam may indirectly benefit up to 100,000 people. The benefits of sand dams are staggering, impacting on health, education, food supply and much more.
Rotarians from Great Britain and Ireland have already built twelve dams in Kenya, working with the Sans Dam Foundation and the UK Charity Excellent who provide all the materials, the design engineering and the building specialists. However Rotary will only fund a dam where communities want them and the local community get behind the project demonstrated by them providing the labour free of charge and by their willingness to collect all the water, sand and stones required for construction. Their commitment to the dam through community involvement is the key to the long term sustainability of the project -because they built the dams, they take great pride in the benefits they bring. This is particularly true with this Dam as can be seen in this video.
This is particularly true with this Dam
as can be seen in this video.