Jersey Overseas Aid volunteers off to Kenya to build sand dam

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JERSEY volunteers are hoping to ‘make a difference’ to people living in drought-stricken south-east Kenya by building a sand dam.

The team of 13 Islanders begin their journey to Africa on Friday, with the aim of providing a year-round reliable water source in an area where climate change has meant drought is now commonplace.

Sand dams are a low-cost rainwater-harvesting technique built into dry river channels to store run-off water, so that it is available even during dry periods, according to JOA.

Volunteer and retired teacher Mark de Luca said he was embarking on the two-week trip to help those who are living in poverty.

He said: ‘There is much to gain personally from volunteering and the more you contribute not just practically but socially, emotionally and intellectually into the project the more you will personally be rewarded.

‘The satisfaction gained from knowing you may be making some difference to the lives and wellbeing of an extremely poor and vulnerable community is very rewarding.’

He added: ‘We are working alongside a very fragile and impoverished community, our efforts do matter greatly to them, no matter how small a part of the project we are.’

One sand dam will directly benefit 175 people, JOA said.

It is hoped that by addressing water scarcity, people living in the affected region can focus on food production and income generation, the development agency added.

International Development Minister Carolyn Labey said: ‘Jersey Overseas Aid’s community work projects have been running for over 50 years and remain one of our core development pillars. Indeed, this year we received more applications from Islanders than ever before.

‘Community work projects not only transform the lives of those they are designed to serve, they provide life-changing experiences for Jersey men and women keen to make a difference on the international stage.’

Deputy Labey added: ‘The introduction of the government’s volunteering policy will hopefully encourage even more Islanders to apply and continue this fantastic legacy that we should all rightly be proud of.’

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