Zimbabwe’s rural town of Gwanda has embraced water harvestng techniques to beat the persistent droughts that affect the district year in year out.
Caroline Ndhovu is one among the over 100 smallholder farmers practising the water harvesting technique of using earth dams. The water collected in the field allows farmers to increase their crop yields, which ordinarily are poor in this region.
Almost four years ago Ndlovu harvested one 50-kilogram bag of maize from her 1.5 hectare piece of land, which sits on an undulating slope. Thanks to harvesting water, Ndlovu’s maize yield has quadrupled and her neighbours wonder what she is doing they are not.
She says that for a long time poor harvests worried her because of low rainfall. “Until I heard about water harvesting… the secret to water harvesting is hard work and I have learnt on pegging and digging the contours in the most suitable location to ensure that they hold the water after the rains,” said Ndlovu.
Dead level contours are a useful technology for farmers farming on sloping fields to harvest rainwater. The trenches, around 50 cm deep and a meter wide, are dug across the slope. During rainfall, they capture run off, which is then slowly released to the field below over the next few weeks, giving crops moisture during dry spells.