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Script 71.8

Notes to broadcasters

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There are many different ways to capture rain. Some people catch rainwater from roofs and hold it in tanks or cisterns. Others build dams, or collect water in shallow pans, terraces, or other small structures. The water is then available for use in the dry season. Water captured in the rainy season can be stored above ground – in cisterns, tanks, dams, and other containers. Or it can be stored underground. Building an earth bank is one way to store water underground.

This script is based on the story of Agnes Mughi, a Kenyan woman who built a series of earth banks upstream from her farm. The earth banks allow her to grow crops and have clean drinking water all year round.

Find out how people in your listening audience capture water during the rainy season. They probably have a variety of clever ways to do this. You could mention these methods in your program as a way of supporting traditional water harvesting techniques developed by farmers in your region. Earth banks is another of these techniques – and one that, in the right circumstances, can be extremely successful.

Script

Characters:

Host

Mr. Ayeji Anyaji:
agricultural extension worker

Host:
Good morning [afternoon, evening]. I’m your host _________. Today we’re going to talk about a way to collect and store water. Mr. Ayeji Anyaji is in the studio with me. He’s an agricultural extension worker, and he’s going to talk about how an earth bank can help your crops [pause] and your health. Good morning [afternoon, evening], Mr. Anyaji.

Mr. Anyaji:
Good morning [afternoon, evening].

Host:
Can you tell me first: why would our listeners want to know how to build an earth bank?

Mr. Anyaji:
Earth banks can help you grow food all through the dry season, when fresh food is scarce. They work because they capture rainwater and store it in the soil.

Host:
There are a lot of people who could use that kind of help! But how do earth banks store water in the soil?

Mr. Anyaji:
To answer that question, I’ll tell you about where you should build earth banks. You should build the banks on the lower part of a gentle slope. When rainwater runs down the slope, the earth banks slow the water down so it can seep into the soil, instead of running over it. And your crops get more water.

Host:
Could you explain to the farmers listening how they could build an earth bank.

Mr. Anyaji:
Earth banks are simply low mounds of earth. First you dig a shallow trench, and then pile the earth from the trench into a smoothly rounded mound. The mound should be about 15 to 30 centimetres high. The trench and the earth bank can be a couple of metres wide, and they can be as long as you need.

Host:
I understand that you met someone who has had great success with earth banks.

Mr. Anyaji:
Yes, her name is Azuka Rabiu, and she lives in a very dry area where the soil on the farms around her is cracked and full of gullies. But her farm is green all year round!

Host:
And she worked this miracle by building earth banks? Tell us how!

Mr. Anyaji:
Well, during the rainy season, there’s a stream that runs down a gentle slope behind her farm. Mrs. Rabiu dug four earth banks across the slope, exactly across the direction of the flow of the stream. That’s very important. The banks must be exactly across the direction of the flow. Mrs. Rabiu’s four earth banks are about 10 metres apart. The banks are about 15 metres long, one and a half metres wide, and 25 centimetres high.

Host
: This sounds like a lot of work!

Mr. Anyaji:
Yes it is. But the benefits are well worth it.

Host:
Please continue with Mrs. Rabiu’s story.

Mr. Anyaji:
Well, Mrs. Rabiu also has more water in her well. When the water in the stream rushes downhill in the rainy season, it slows down when it comes to the earth banks and seeps into the ground. So the soil on her farm is moist and her crops grow stronger. But the water level in the well also rises. Mrs. Rabiu uses the well water for drinking and watering her vegetables during the dry season. So her farm is green all year round.

Host
: So Mrs. Rabiu has home-grown food all year round! And good clean drinking water. This certainly sounds like a good idea for farmers in dry areas. But does it work on farms where the land is flat?

Mr. Anyaji:
No, there has to be a slope so that the water runs downhill. But the slope shouldn’t be too steep, or the flood water will wash away the earth bank. Just a gentle slope works best.

Host:
And do you need to have a stream on your land for the earth bank to capture enough water?

Mr. Anyaji:
No, but as I said, you do need a gentle slope that water runs down. Of course, if there’s a stream you can capture more water in your soil and in your well. I should also mention that earthbanks can be eroded by rain and run-off water, so regular work is needed to keep the soil in place.

Host:
Thank you very much, Mr. Anyaji, for telling us about earth banks, and for sharing Azuka Rabiu’s story. I’m sure earth banks could help many of our listeners.

Mr. Anyaji:
You’re very welcome. And just one more piece of advice to anyone who wants to try this: look around and try to find someone who has already built an earth bank. Ask other farmers if they know people who have tried it. Get as much advice as you can before you start. Your chances of success will be much better.

Host:
Thanks again, Mr. Anyaji. And let’s congratulate Mrs. Rabiu for being so creative and hard-working! This is [name of broadcaster], wishing you a good morning [afternoon, evening].

– END –

Acknowledgements

  • Contributed by Vijay Cuddeford, researcher/writer, North Vancouver, Canada.
  • Reviewed by Chris Reij, International Cooperation Center, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

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