Over the last few years, Zimbabwe has been in a major drought due to climate change. According to NewsDay, the residents of this African country have experienced “suffocating dry spells with uncertainties on when exactly the rains [will pay them] the long-awaited visit.”

The uncertainty of rain has led many Zimbabweans, especially children, to become undernourished and thirsty at all times. With 90% of agriculture being rain-fed, most of the food sources are also being destroyed.

This is where the international NGO Practical Action steps in. These expert problem solvers have developed a way to contain the little rain that does fall and allow it to be used for everyday water needs by harvesting rainwater in Zimbabwe.

Practical Action states that one key source of clean water is through “harvesting rainwater as it falls and retaining it in the soil or in tanks below ground.” There are a couple of methods it has come up with to help store rainwater, for both irrigation and drinking purposes.

First, by constructing divots into the earth, people can trap the rainwater instead of letting it run off the land. This better sustains crops, which improves nutrition.

A second way to capture and store rainwater is with tanks. Practical Action gives many examples of how to do this, including water falling off of roofs, flowing out of dams or gathering up in puddles. Underground or above ground, tanks are useful for collecting rainwater and storing it for an indefinite amount of time until it is needed.

There are many benefits to this innovation. Harvesting rainwater in Zimbabwe can be done whether there is a little sprinkle or a storm. The Zimbabwe National Water Authority said: “The claim that rainwater harvesting is only possible when the rains are heavy is, unfortunately, one of the biggest misconceptions that have scuttled rainwater harvesting efforts in the past.”

People can harvest rainwater year-round, so Zimbabwean families can see more impactful results.

Zimbabwe local and Rainwater Harvesting Chairman Tias Sibanda has noticed a change in his life due to his use of this system. He remarked: “Thanks to the water harvesting techniques shown to us by Practical Action… and with the contour field structures, we are now more ‘food secure’ and have no worries about soil loss.”

Harvesting rainwater in Zimbabwe could be a hugely beneficial technique to keep families healthy and happy for the duration of the drought.

Sydney Missigman

Photo: Flickr