A sand dam is a concrete wall constructed across a seasonal riverbed or ‘wadi’.  During the wet or rainy season, water rushes through the bed.  The dam traps sand and water, and then the sand preserves much of the water long after the rainy season ends.  During dry seasons and droughts, community members can scoop into the sand or dig shallow wells to access the clean water – clean because the sand serves not only to hold the water, but also to filter it.

Communities in arid or semi-arid regions, including Kenya, are finding many benefits to this effective water system created by simple technology:

  • Traveling to collect water is reduced – in some cases from an eleven hour trip to a single hour; in other cases, the water is minutes away.
  • Clean water – filtered by the sand – is available for entire communities, for drinking, cooking, washing, livestock, and gardens.
  • Community members, especially women and girls who are traditionally the water fetchers in many regions, have time for generating income and attending school.
  • An end to fighting caused by competition for scarce supplies where herdsmen travel outside their home territories to seek water for their animals during times of drought.
  • Less water-borne disease from times when communities all met in a single location to share water sources and had limited sanitation.

The video, "Women and Water in Rural Kenya" (used with permission) shares the success of a sand dam water project in Kenya.  Information and the 6 minute video provided by Church World Service.

Watch "Women and Water in Rural Kenya"

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