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Sand dams: improving access to water through a more cost-effective rural road infrastructure.
Side Event or Special Event : Side Event
Name of contact:

Jonny McKay​

Side Event Date: 20/09/2013 08:00
Organization contact: Excellent Development
Hosting organization:

Excellent Development​

Side Event Description:


Thematic focus: rural road infrastructure, rainwater harvesting and agriculture.
1. To raise awareness about sand dams and how they can be successfully applied.
2. To demonstrate the potential of sand dams to improve Low Volume Rural Road (LVRR) crossings in drylands.
3. To demonstrate the benefits and impacts of sand dams for:
a. Improved LVRRs.
b. Increased water supply.
c. Food security.
This event will demonstrate the potential of sand dams to both improve rural road infrastructure and increase access to water for smallholder farmers in drylands. It will provide an overview of where sand dams are feasible, how they can be implemented, and the resources and technical support Excellent Development offers to facilitate their application in drylands around the world.
The application of sand dams as rural road crossings provides a new route for investment in drylands and for achieving goals on sustainable land management and water and food security.
Where rural roads cross seasonal rivers they are vulnerable to damage from erosion caused by floods. This reduces or prevents access to markets and services and represents a significant maintenance cost for the managing authority.
In many dryland regions, culverts are traditionally built under low volume rural roads to allow water to flow underneath during rainy seasons. However, these are rarely able to accommodate the largest floods and are often washed away or damaged. This undermines the stability of rural road infrastructure, limits the opportunity for farmers to sell goods at markets and causes soil erosion.


Sand dams are an improved alternative to traditional culverts in seasonal rivers. They are more cost-effective and sustainable (because they have virtually zero maintenance costs), provide stability to rural road infrastructure, and mitigate the impacts of floods. They are also the most cost-effective method of rainwater harvesting in drylands - providing up to 20 million litres of water (per rainy season) that can be abstracted for domestic and agricultural use.


There is interest in the application of sand dams as rural road crossings from the National Roads Administration Mozambique, The African Community Access Programme in South Sudan and Somalia, the Kenyan Rural Roads Authority and the Kenya Roads Board.


Coorganizations contact: Excellent Development
Email address:
Email address:

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