Govt must encourage rainwater harvesting

HARARE - The current heavy rains have indeed come as a blessing for communities like those in Zimbabwe, which are still reeling from the effects of the El Nino-induced drought that ravaged the country last season.

However, it appears nobody in Zimbabwe cares a jot about harnessing the excess water for future use.

Authorities must ensure they provide the requisite education to the population — both urban and rural — on the need to harvest this excess water that often flows off into the oceans.

The most common methods are surface run-off harvesting and rooftop rainwater harvesting — both of which can be effective methods of channelling rainwater into reservoirs.

It is important for government, through the Agriculture ministry, to also provide the technical expertise in the construction of tanks and aquifers for the storage of harvested water, to ensure they are not a danger to the very people they are built for.

The Metereological Services Department in Zimbabwe has forecast that the current heavy rains will continue, bringing back smiles on local authorities keen to see water levels in dams improve as this would guarantee continued supplies of the precious liquid.

Already, Harare’s major water source — Lake Chivero and Prince Edward in Chitungwiza are already overflowing while Lake Mutirikwi – which is dry Masvingo’s sole water source — was only 9 percent full as of Friday.

For the rural population, however, much smaller dams and aquifers can help store the excess rainwater. Sadly, government has never had these projects on top of their priority list despite their importance for rural folks, the majority of of whom rely on rain-fed agriculture.

Some countries in the Far East like Indonesia have put on top of their agendas, the construction of reservoirs at homesteads to harness rainwater for future use in agricultural plots and livestock farms.

Zimbabwe could do the same. If government invests in these little dams for this critical rural mass, the ultimate benefits will accrue to the State.

Once they harnesses rainwater, rural communities could easily become self-sufficient in terms of food if they make use of the water to irrigate small plots and gardens.

Letting rainwater flow away is a luxury most of Zimbabwe cannot afford, especially at times when above-normal rains fall as is expected to happen this season.

It is mandatory for government to allocate resources towards water harvesting projects because there is every benefit in doing so. It is also a sure way of empowering rural communities that rely on farming and animal rearing for survival.

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