A little, too late
In the tropical regions of Zimbabwe, some farmers have tried to cope with the silence. They are also replanting traditional drought-resistant crops such as millet, millet, and sorghum. Some have stopped watering their crops flooding all fields using a machine that drops enough water on almost any plant.
And others, including Blessing Zimunya, a Tora farmer, have tried to harvest rainwater for irrigation and other uses. Zimunya uses a 5,000 liter container to draw water from its roof and a 100,000 liter tank to flood ground. He enhances these systems with water from a nearby river.
Natalie Watson, director director Bopoma Villages, a non-governmental organization responsible for clean water services, says rainwater harvesting has a great potential for efficiency. He named a well-known Zimbabwean farmer Zephaniah Phiri Maseko, who died before they could turn arid land into green fields, using the techniques of the Watson movement.
The program focuses on Zaka district in southern Zimbabwe where hundreds of farmers are participating. Others in the nearby Midlands have also begun experimenting with rainwater harvesting.
The total number of farmers in Zimbabwe involved in the project is still very small. Of the more than 7 million smallholder farmers nationwide, only a few thousand in the arid regions have tried. Despite efforts by organizations such as Watson, many farmers do not have the resources to build large reservoirs of water. Many do not know what harvesting rainwater is or how to start it.
Some nonprofit programs are under way to help farmers get used to learning new ways to protect soil moisture and to find ways to earn more money than farming. And last year, the Zimbabwean government announced system creating 760,000 new “green” jobs in four years in sectors such as solar, hydro, energy, and sustainable agriculture. But these efforts are still in its infancy.
Gift Sanyanga of Haarlem Mutare City Link — a two-city partnership between Haarlem City in the Netherlands and Mutare Zimbabwe 2019 report on climate change in the Eastern Highlands (and they paid me to go to Haarlem to talk about the same year) – they say the transition methods have failed miserably, and the only option left for most farmers is migration.