Friday, September 20, 2013

Water harvesting helps Kenya's women cope with failing rains

James Karuga in the Thomson Reuters Foundation: When Rose Wanjiku first moved to her home in Central Kenya province 14 years ago, the region received four months of rain every year. The rains began in April and again in October, and were sufficient for a small-scale farmer such as herself to grow staples like maize and beans to feed her family and sell the surplus at local markets.

Today the Ngurubani area gets only two months of rain a year. Because of the growing scarcity, Wanjiku has resorted to irrigating her crops with water pumped from the Thiba River when rains fail in mid-season. Even though the river is just a stone’s throw away from her house and fields, the water pump means extra expenses for her household. 

“Farming has become very expensive for us these days. We hardly make profits,” said her husband Munene. His wife added that the river water cannot be used for household purposes because it is too muddy.

To counter the water shortages, Wanjiku, 45, has begun harvesting rainwater. Her roof is fitted with gutters and through a loan from SMEP, a Kenyan microfinance programme, she has bought a 2,300-litre (600-gallon) water tank to store the harvested water.

Rainwater gathered since April has been sustaining her household until the rains are due to begin again next month. Wanjiku began making loan payments of 1,000 Kenyan shillings (around $11) a month in February, and aims to clear the loan by November....

Two brothers search for water in a dried river bed in Turkana, in Northern Kenya, shot by DFID - UK Department for International Development, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

No comments: