Turn water scarcity into abundance, says US expert

Zimbabweans needs to harvest rainwater to lessen the impact of droughts and water shortages that have hit the country, says an American expert, Brad Lancaster.

Talking to Harare residents at a public lecture on how to harvest rainwater, Lancaster said millions of litres of water were being lost unnecessarily.

“There are many ways of harvesting rainwater besides tapping it from the roofs and putting it in huge containers. We can slow, spread and sink water during rains and, by so doing, we would have abundant water underground, and avoid flooding in low-lying areas, soil erosion and siltation,” he said.

Lancaster is an expert in the field of rainwater harvesting and water management. He is also a permaculture teacher, designer, consultant and co-founder of Desert Harvesters, a non-profit organisation. He has written two books on rainwater harvesting.

Lancaster said running water could be channeled to target areas, where it could sink.

“Along streets In urban areas, instead of letting the water go down the drain, it can be directed towards planted trees along the roads or orchards and gardens to water the plants. The site rapidly hydrates itself and the water can stay longer,” he said.

Lancaster said fruit and medicinal trees should be prioritised when carrying out this exercise as the fruits could one day feed the community.

“Future generations would benefit from the shade of the trees. The trees would also protect the tarred roads from severe sun, reduce evaporation from the ground and communities can also harvest fruits and medicines for consumption or sale,” he added.

Lancaster said that, in rural areas, people could put rubble or stones and plant grass in the path of rainwater and make the ridge wide to slow and sink the water.

“This will promote the growth of our pastures. Behind every ridge, we should plant a fruit-tree,” he said.

Lancaster said both rural and urban reaidents could take advantage of grey water and reuse it to either flush their toilets or water fruit-trees. Grey water is water that’s been used for bathing and laundry.

Water used for toilet purposes or industrial use is classified as black water.

“We must use biodegradable soaps for bathing and laundry to avoid killing our plants or trees when we water them. Reusing grey water means we would save clean water for drinking and cooking, while we also benefit from growing fruit trees,” he said.

Lancaster said the piping at homes could be redesigned to tap the grey water and channel it to trees.

“The only cost in this exercise is piping. The rest is free and the benefits are abundant,” he said.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Women’s Rural Development Trust director, Sarudzai Washaya, urged women to harvest wild vegetables and fruits for storage.

“During rainy seasons, a lot of edible vegetables and fruits grow everywhere and people forget that five months into the year such vegetables like, munyevhe, derere (okra), pumpkin leaves, sweet potato leaves, blackjack and mubonongwe will vanish.

“Families should harvest these and dry them for later use. People can also harvest fruits such as masau and muhacha and dry them to avert hunger later in the year,” she said.

Post published in: News
  1. Regi

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