EQ Foundation: sand dams

There are thousands of brilliant charities around the world doing great work and deserving support but only a few have a game changing opportunity. We recently became aware of Excellent Development, a UK registered charity which builds sand dams. Sand dams are a low-tech, environmentally friendly way to store water in arid regions of the developing world.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail   by John Spiers, 30th July 2018

Many regions that suffer acutely from drought actually enjoy substantial rainfall; the trouble is that it rains torrentially for very short periods, so most of the water is lost as run-off.

By building reinforced concrete walls across seasonal rivers, sand dams not only trap some of the water but also huge volumes of sand. The water is trapped within the sand, so it doesn’t evapourate, stays fresh for long periods and is filtered, so it can be extracted and drunk safely.

Huge quantities of water can be stored very cheaply in this fashion – up to 40 million litres per dam – yet sand dams are designed to capture only a small proportion of the overall flow. This means that, unlike traditional dams, sand dams don’t end up starving downstream communities of water.

This pioneering innovation could have a huge impact. Families in arid regions are often forced to live a nomadic existence; women and children spend many hours every day travelling just to collect water. That’s bad for maintaining education and building financial stability.

Excellent Development has so far arranged the construction of almost 1,000 dams, always with the full backing of local communities. Now they are installing smart meters to gather clear evidence of the scale of the benefits. Their longer term goals are ambitious: to help build 10,000 dams for 5 million people by 2025, and 1 million dams for 0.5 billion people by 2040.

We’re delighted to be supporting them with a grant at this stage of their work. That should help to persuade larger funders, such as the Gates Foundation, to finance construction at scale.

To learn more about sand dams please visit: www.excellentdevelopment.com

About the author: John Spiers

John is the CEO of EQ. After gaining an MA in Engineering at Clare College, Cambridge he went into the City as a research analyst for 10 years.

In 1986 he set up Bestinvest and over the next 20 years it grew to become a leading private client advisory and wealth management business with over 50,000 clients. In 2007 Bestinvest was acquired by 3i.

Since then John has built up a portfolio of other interests, including the establishment of a Foundation to support various charities. He has taken a particular interest in projects aimed to increase the use of Early Intervention to reduce child abuse. He has also retained a close interest in investment, being a Fellow of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment and a member of the Investment Committee for Clare College.

John enjoys competitive sport and participates in historic motorsport and international croquet.

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