Notes to broadcasters
One of the greatest needs of villagers in semi-arid and arid areas is to overcome the problem of reduced or irregular rainfall, and drought. In times of drought harvests are poor, and food becomes scarce. There is a shortage of basic commodities in the region, and people often have to leave their homes. Is there anything that farmers can do to bring water back to their land?
Yes. Farmers can use water harvesting techniques to capture and hold water for crops. Water harvesting helps farmers combat drought. It makes water available for emergencies. And farmers harvesting water, individually or in joint schemes, play an important role in raising the water table and combating the long term process of desertification.
This script describes some techniques used by a small-scale farmer, Mr. Phiri, in Zimbabwe. Mr. Phiri uses sand traps, infiltration pits, and small underground tanks to catch and hold water on his land. These are simple methods that can be used by farmers in your audience to collect water for their crops.
Mr. Phiri tells his story in his own words. To speak the part of Mr. Phiri, choose someone who can present in an authentic farmer’s voice. You may want to broadcast short segments of this program at different times, or separate the segments with music or other programming. You may decide to create a series about different water harvesting techniques used in your region. If so, remember to include stories about farmers working in a group to manage watersheds, in addition to individual experiences.
Further program ideas about water harvesting:
- Produce a series about ways that local farmers use to harvest rainwater, such as the use of zai or tassa holes, half-moons, other microcatchments, and runoff farming.
- Harvesting rainwater for use in the home. A ready-made radio program called “Long-term planning in Zimbabwe: Farmers choose crops to prepare against drought” (5’34”) is available for download from Radio Bridge Overseas, E-mail: Radiobridge@aol.com, URL: http://www.radiobridge.org
Today, we’re going to hear from a fellow farmer – Mr. Phiri – about how he holds rainwater on his land, using infiltration pits. Mr. Phiri is a real farmer, and this is his true story. He is played by [name of actor/volunteer]. Mr. Phiri lives in Zimbabwe, but his methods can be used here too. The pits he uses cost nothing to build. Anyone who can dig a hole can make one.
Here’s Mr. Phiri now.
When it rains, the rain falls into these pits. Even when the rain stops falling, the water remains here, in my field – nourishing my crops and also my soil.
You know when you drive through a town and you come across some big humps in the road? Those humps say to the driver, “Reduce your speed!” So that is what my pits say to my harvested run-off water: “Reduce your speed!”FADE IN MUSIC AND HOLD UNDER NARRATIVE.
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Mr. Phiri is the Founding Director of the Zvishavane Water Project, the first indigenous non-government organization in Zimbabwe. The Project promotes soil and water conservation techniques among farmers in Zimbabwe, and generally promotes self reliance among rural people. For more information about Mr. Phiri’s water harvesting techniques, contact: Zvishavane Water Project, PO Box 118, Zvishavane, Zimbabwe.
This script is adapted from sections of the book ‘The water harvester: Episodes from the inspired life of Zephaniah Phiri’ by Mary Witoshynsky (2000), and is based on recorded interviews with Mr. Phiri at his farm in Zimbabwe. The book is available from Weaver Press, Box A1922, Harare, Zimbabwe. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org from the African Book Collective, The Jam Factory, 27 Park End Street, Oxford 0X1 1HU, Fax: 01865.793298. E-mail: email@example.com