Contribution of rainwater harvesting technologies to rural livelihoods in Zimbabwe: The case of Ngundu ward in Chivi District
Water has long been regarded as the main limiting resource for crop production in the drought-prone region of sub-Saharan Africa in which Zimbabwe is located. However, the introduction of novel agricultural technologies such as rain-water harvesting (RWH) is seeking to mitigate the effects of these perennial droughts. The successful adoption of such technologies has the potential to alleviate problems faced by resource-poor ‘subsistence\' farmers. Thus this paper examines the contribution of RWH technologies to rural livelihoods in Zimbabwe and consequently to the sustainability of agriculture and rural livelihoods thereof. The methods employed included a questionnaire survey; key informant interviews and field observations. Benefits of RWH technologies found include an increase in agricultural productivity, enhancing household food security and raising of incomes. The technologies also assisted in improving environmental management through water conservation, reduction of soil erosion and resuscitation of wetlands in the study area. The major constraints facing technology adopters were water distribution problems, labour shortage, water-logging during periods of high rainfall and risk of injury to people and livestock as a result of some of the technologies. However, in an area like Chivi where there are frequent droughts and consequently food shortages among smallholder farmers, the benefits of RWH technology adoption seem to outweigh the costs. It was therefore concluded that RWH technologies are suitable for smallholder farmers in semi-arid areas if they are properly tailored to the conditions of the locality where they are promoted.
Water SA Vol.32 (3) 2006: pp.437-444