Harvesting Rainwater for Food Security – Welcome to ‘Amanzi for Food’

Farmers from Lloyd Village near Alice in the Eastern Cape working with an extension officer digging a pond to hold rainwater for their vegetable garden Lawrence Sisitka (for Amanzi for Food): heilaw@imaginet.co.za
Farmers from Lloyd Village near Alice in the Eastern Cape working with an extension officer digging a pond to hold rainwater for their vegetable garden
Lawrence Sisitka (for Amanzi for Food): heilaw@imaginet.co.za

South Africa is a water scarce country at the best of times. 2015 saw severe droughts affecting large areas in many provinces leading to the loss of livestock on a massive scale and to unprecedented loss of staple crop production. These droughts are continuing in some areas. The forecasts regarding the probable impacts of climate change in Southern Africa are not good. They suggest that such terrible droughts are likely to occur with increasing frequency. It is therefore critical that we find ways to make the most efficient use of our limited water to try and ensure some measure of food security for our ever-growing population. One promising approach that should contribute to this is carefully catching, harvesting, storing and using our limited rainwater for food production. This is the focus of the ‘Amanzi for Food’ initiative currently being undertaken for Water Research Commission (WRC). It must be said that rainwater harvesting cannot provide all the answers to the lack of water in the country, but it can make a real contribution to improving the situation.
For over ten years the WRC has been funding teams of researchers and practitioners in South Africa to conduct research into rainwater harvesting and use. Much information has been gathered and many useful training materials produced.
The main work of ‘Amanzi for Food’ is to make the valuable information in these materials available to all stakeholders. These include the farmers themselves (on all scales, from homesteads to commercial farmers); the agricultural NGOs; the agricultural extension services; agricultural and other FET colleges; agricultural high schools; universities; and the private training sector. It uses different media, according to how the different stakeholders traditionally get their information, including printed media like community newspapers like this, the internet and radio. The information is available in different forms such as infocards, handouts, posters, videos and the original materials. These are all downloadable from the website. Amanzi for Food also supports the use of RWH&C information in teaching programmes of schools, colleges and others. It has also worked with farmers and others to develop ‘demonstration sites’ to show how to use some of the practices.
To find all the information and learn more about the project and how you might become involved please explore the website: www.amanziforfood.co.za and/or Like us on Facebook: Amanziforfood.
Amanzi for Food is also very interested in learning about rainwater harvesting practices that farmers are using in your area, and would love to hear the stories of farmers who are doing this. The practices can be traditional or modern, or even a combination of both – all are interesting and important! These stories can be sent to your newspaper, or to the Amanzi for Food email: info@amanziforfood.co.za and they can be uploaded onto the website to be shared with many people across the country. If possible, please send some photos showing what is happening in the stories.
It would also be good to hear which types of rainwater harvesting practices are most interesting and important to farmers in your area. Please let your local newspaper or Amanzi for Food know (on the Facebook page or by email), and Amanzi for Food can then produce articles on these important practices to share with everyone.