The column below was contributed by by Rasha Azrag & Guy Reeves.
"I am always wary of ‘technology-led’ solutions. The under-developed world is littered with rusting tractors and broken water pumps." 
Surprisingly, this quote is from a document that promotes a technology; which is pictured below. While it might at first glance look like a dried-up reservoir it is in fact a fully functioning sand dam that provides year-round clean water in a water scarce environment.
Below the surface of the sand held behind the wall 20-40% of its volume is in fact water. This can be readily retrieved providing a year-round supply of water. The video below provides a clear explanation of how sand dams work (see 1:30 to 2:02) and the manner they have been implemented by local communities in SE Kenya.
This video was made by the Aljazeera ‘Earth Rise’ program. Alternatively, for a concise diagrammatic explanation of how sand dams work see .
Clearly, where the conditions necessary for successful construction and implementation are met, sand dams represent a sustainable solution to the critical requirement for water for domestic and agricultural uses.
But why mention sand dams to malaria professionals?
Well, it struck me when I recently first heard of sand dams on BBC radio that this is a technology that has the potential to positively integrate with mosquito control. While many mosquitos rarely utilise river or marsh habitats, as we have discussed in our earlier column "No more broken waterpipes and water containers" , provision of any reliable water supply has the potential to have immense indirect benefits on larval control (e.g. through reducing water storage in containers). Unsurprisingly, the possible synergies between mosquito control and sand dams have not escaped the notice of organisations involved in their development.
|So, we contacted Excellent Development (a UK based NGO  to ask a few questions about their work.
First of all what countries are sand dams currently used in?
Is there any data on the impact of sand dams on mosquito control?
Does water seeping under the dam wall generate mosquito-breeding pools?
Can sand dams be built anywhere?
How long can they last?
Approximately how much does it cost to build a sand dam with a community?
It appears that sand dams are a sustainable technology that has the potential to integrate well with mosquito control efforts, yet as the responses above detail there is currently no data on this. --Anybody feel inspired to think about doing something on this?--
On a very positive note, reading through the literature [1, 3, 4] of some of the organizations involved it is very clear that they have not been seduced by the technical strengths of their approach to the exclusion of recognising the importance of the manner of its implementation. This is exemplified in the completed partial quote which started this column:-
"I am always wary of ‘technology-led’ solutions. The under-developed world is littered with rusting tractors and broken water pumps. Yet, sand dams are a technology. Their success lies in the method of implementation." 
If you have comments, ideas or experience on the relationship between sand dams and vectored disease please post them below.
Equally if you have any questions about technical details or on their holistic implementation approach the Excellent Development team will endeavour to respond to them.
We would like to thank the Excellent Development team for their help in writing of this column.
Rasha is a medical entomologist working in the department of Zoology/ University of Khartoum, Sudan and used to teach basic entomology courses to undergraduate students and molecular entomology to master students in the Medical Entomology and Vector Control program. She has experience from working in different vector control programmes, from basic classic control methods to the use of genetic methods.
Guy is a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, Germany. Part of his research involves the exploration of genetic methods to control vectored diseases.
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