The potential of Roadwater Harvesting: A Malawian Demonstration

The potential of Roadwater Harvesting: A Malawian Demonstration

Posted by Macpherson Nthara and Abraham Abhishek
March 21, 2018

Farmers examining the roadside pits

In January 2018, a group of farmers in Malawi’s central Lilongwe district visited sites where water harvesting pits had been dug along rural roads. The pits caught rainwater and runoff, enabled it to percolate, recharge groundwater, and improve soil moisture levels in adjacent fields.

Crops grown with a combination of ‘no-tillage’ sowing and Road Water Harvesting are considerably healthier than those in control plots

The farmer who agreed to let percolation pits be dug next to his road-adjacent field

The effect of the pits is visible in the water levels in them (this is after just a few days of rain); and in the improved soil  moisture and good health of the crops in the adjacent fields.

The idea of digging these pits is thus vindicated. It had initially met with skepticism from government officials who initially thought digging these trenches amounted to damaging the roads. The need, now, is to scale up this practice and harness the potential of road water harvesting– to minimize road damage while making productive use of runoff.
This visit was organised by the Macpherson Nthara, Chief Land Land Use Officer at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Malawi. Macpherson is also the Malawi coordinator of the Roads for Water Learning Alliance. For more information on Road Water Harvesting, visit
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Green Roads for Water  
Green Roads for Water  
March 21, 2018  
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