Home | TheWaterBlog

TheWaterBlog: If you want to share unique images and observations in this section, or would like to know about syndicating these posts, send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!

 

The Kenyan farmer who traveled his country got inspired to harvest road water and is telling others to do the same

Posted by Nienke Harmelink
January 31, 2017

Edward on his shamba with his wife and sister in law


Adopting road water harvesting Edward Ndolo lives just outside of Kitui town, located in the eastern part of Kenya. He is over 60 years old, a retired police officer and lives with his wife next to their 3 acres (around 1.2 ha) sized shamba (farmland).

Edward is farming since 1967, and ever since applies terracing as a conservation technique. But because the area receives little rainfall, after his retirement he educated himself and started to practice road water harvesting in 1990. With this technique he can divert the runoff from surrounding roads to his shamba during the rainy season. What makes this case special, is that Edwards shamba is not directly connected to a road, but the road water first passes through the land of his neighbour. Edward explained to his neighbour the destructive effects of the uncontrolled road-runoff on his farmland. After that, Edward was allowed to build a channel across his neighbours’ land.“The place here, we have very small shambas. So, we cannot contain all the water on that shamba” Edward explains.

The inspiration to practice road water harvesting came from his visits to places elsewhere in the country where he was exposed to the technique. “I saw other farmers do it, so I thought it would be good for my shamba” he explains. It is nonetheless practiced by only a few farmers in the area, despite his effort to inform others about the benefits.

However, the path is not all strewn with roses. According to Edward it is hard work, and that is also one of the arguments he gets from others who refuse to adopt road water harvesting to their farming practices. Besides saying “it is very tiresome” people argue it is expensive. Edward also considers it expensive. To construct a 50 meter long channel, Edward had to spent 20.000 Kenyan Shillings (around 200 Euro), which was mostly for hiring manpower.

 

Edward diverts the water from the road to his land through this channel

 

To get the money he was helped by his daughters, who work and live elsewhere. To prevent seepage and to efficiently capture the harvested road water, Edward is now planning to put dam liner in the channel. For this he needs polythene paper and at this moment he is not able to afford it. Therefore he is trying to see if he can apply for a loan. Despite the challenges, Edward thinks it is “a very nice job”, and in the long run costs will be regained. Besides the high costs, Edward believes there is also another aspect that prevents people from adopting road water harvesting, by arguing that individuals “can do it because they are with many. But they don't put their mind to it. [….] I have taken it as my job and I have seen the profit of it”. The problem he observes here is that other farmers “are not using their common sense to emulate/replicate” road water harvesting and consequently may not have enough water available for their agricultural production.

Climate change, and raising awareness about being resilient According to Edwards’ observations the weather has changed. During the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s there was plenty of rainfall, but in recent years this has changed. The long rainy season starts in Kitui usually around October he explains, but last year (2016) the rain didn’t arrive until November 1st. “So the climate has changed tremendously. And even if this pattern continues, we are not expecting to harvest. Because it is late. And the rain here finishes in December. So we are somehow worried because rain doesn’t fall when its supposed to”.

However, because Edward is making effective use of the water that does fall, his land differs in terms of productivity from those who don’t seize the opportunity. “I took it (the water, ed.) here, while some others are not getting it. […] Some of my fruits, they are very green because of that water. This place is very dry but because of taking the water from the roads and putting it here” Edwards production is high enough that it allows him to sell a share . “I profit more than my neighbours”, Edward explains. Those who do not harvest the water “come here to buy beans and maize, such things. Even fruits. [….] I get profit from them because they are buying”.

To inform other farmers about the effects of a changing climate, Edward tells them to take actions. “To store their food, because there might not be sufficient rainfall. [.…] to make them aware. [….] I tell them to not sell their products at the moment because we are not getting anything. [….] And I am taking it seriously, because I have seen the changes. [….] Some of them, they don't listen., they are taking things too easily”. Edward considers sensitisation as very important, maybe almost like his personal mission when you read between the lines. He later explains he went to Mandera and Garissa, parts of Kenya with an arid climate. There he has seen people suffering. The exposure made him realise that the climate in Kitui is manageable when you apply some relatively simple techniques that utilises the rain optimally. “It (the climate, ed.) is not so bad that we cannot help ourselves. With a little change a big difference can be made”.

 

   

  • Custody Continuity - the preservation success of the Maya Biosphere Reserve

    Custody Continuity - the preservation success of the Maya Biosphere ReservePosted by Frank van SteenbergenJanuary 27, 2017It has been run for twenty years now – the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatamala. As long as memory runs this forest has been the home of several indigenous Maya communities – whose entire lives and economy of hunting, fishing and collecting was part of it. Their custody con...

    Read more

  • Let the crisis not get hold of us: water supply in Yemen

    Let the crisis not get hold of us: water supply in YemenPosted by Taha AL-Washali, Frank van Steenbergen, Saroj Sharma, and Maria KennedyJanuary 25, 2017CollapseIn March, 2015, Saudi Arabia launched an aerial bombing campaign and naval blockade on Yemen. The initially limited war then scaled-up dramatically, destroying daily life in the poorest, most populous, and youngest nation in the Arabian Pe...

    Read more

  • One more community deserted

    One more community desertedPosted by Naseer MemonJanuary 09, 2017Thar desert is known for its serene natural beauty, mesmerising sand dunes, fearlessly roaming peacocks, parched land, abject poverty and an impressive epitome of inter-faith harmony. During the recent years, Thar has emerged as the energy basket of Pakistan. Traces of carbonaceous material were detected when the Sindh Arid Zone Deve...

    Read more

  • Against Ugliness

    Let this be a year of harmonyPosted By Frank van SteenbergenJanuary 3, 2017There is so much ugliness in the world – but does there need to be?Visit Dhaka, Barcelona,  Cairo, Karachi, Teheran.  Cracked pavements, tatty walls, electric wire bulging, small garbage heaps, universal neglect – does it really need to be like this? Is this the era of Urban Tattiness? Even when there are many around...

    Read more

  • King Capillary: The Miracle Water Buffer

    King Capillary:  The Miracle Water Buffer Posted by Matthijs Kool, Abraham Mehari Haile, Karim Nawaz and Frank van Steenbergen December 12, 2016 In the Gash Spate Irrigation Scheme of Sudan, farmers are able to cultivate watermelon as a second crop in the end of October – long after the rains have fallen and the floods have been diverted. In the downstream areas of Flood-dependent water sche...

    Read more

  • Water Scarcity as a Business in Kathmandu Valley

    Water Scarcity as a Business in Kathmandu Valley, NepalDecember 2016, Otto HoffmanNepal is blessed with an abundance of water throughout the country in the form of snow cover, glaciers, springs, rivers, lakes and groundwater and is considered as among one of the richest countries in terms of water resources in the world. Despite being blessed, many communities lack potable water. Water is not scar...

    Read more

  • On the Road with Resilience

    On the Road with ResiliencePosted by Kifle Wolderegay, Rajeshwar Mishra and Frank van SteenbergenDecember 6, 2016 It is a simple concept: resilience, improving existing systems, making them more productive and stronger, better able to deal with shocks and even converting problems into opportunities. Resilience is a departure from the concept of sustainability that wants to preserve what is there...

    Read more

  • nature’s Green Blanket

    Nature’s Green Blanket Ceasing to Exist Agricultural land declination: Urbanization, lack of natural resources, and neglectNovember 2016, Madiha Al-JunaidOf what is more than a decade ago, I remember as a kid and teenager how very close green areas of farms were to my home. We even used to take a walk to the nearby gardens when possible if we wanted to have a family picnic or so. Nowadays, howev...

    Read more

  • The power of peers: self-evolving institutions in action

    The power of peers: self-evolving institutions in action Posted by Rajeshwar Mishra and Frank van SteenbergenNovember 8, 2016 (Members of the North Bengal Terai Women's Federation, a collective of women's Self-Help Groups in Eastern India)There is so much energy that can be unleashed by bringing groups together with similar interest and challenges – in learning from each other but even more im...

    Read more

  • Is peri-urban wastewater reuse the right pathway to food security?

    Is Peri-urban wastewater use the right pathway to food security?Posted by Otto HoffmanNovember 8, 2016             Urbanization and population growth in Kathmandu Valley are widening the gap between supply and demand for water – reaching worrying levels that in some parts of the periphery (peri-urban) areas is increasingly creating a threat to local ecosystems, groundwater aquifers ...

    Read more