Knowledge Matters – Community Engagement
This issue of Knowledge Matters showcases the various ways Concern engages communities in our development and humanitarian work.
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This page details the findings of research into sand dams carried out as part of an MSc dissertation by Paz Lopez-Rey, Concern's Resilience Programme Coordinator in Somalia/ Somaliland.
Sand dams and sub-surface dams are increasingly recognised as low-cost and climate-resilient rainwater harvesting technologies. They have two clear advantages over open water storage infrastructure in rural semi-arid and arid lands: storage in sediment significantly reduces evaporation-loss while sand filtration reduces the risk of bacteriological contamination.
In this study, Concern appraises sand dam experiences in Somaliland and reflects on their potential to enhance water availability and build communities’ resilience.
This Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC - Loughborough University) MSc dissertation is a collaboration with the Concern Worldwide team to inform resilience programming. Through the study of five communities in Somaliland, this research appraises the effectiveness of sand dams as a rural water supply technology, potentially capable of positively impacting water security and resilience in semi-arid and arid environments in Somaliland. The study also presents key lessons learned from sand dam practitioners in the Horn of Africa and explores the technical, environmental, socio-economic and cultural aspects involved in the sustainable and effective management of sand dams.
Sand dams contribute to improve water security and community resilience in four critical ways:
The above benefits have direct causal links to improved food security, nutrition and health, which in turn contribute towards enhancing resilience capacities to cope with climate-related shocks. The study strongly recommends the piloting of sand dams in new locations of Somaliland based on existing local technical capacity, supportive public policy framework and favourable climatic and hydrogeological conditions.