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RAIN increases farmers access to shallow groundwater in Tanzania

Clay sub-surface dam field survey near Mwang’halanga shallow wells in Igunga District. Photos: Arnoud Keizer

 

Aidenvironment, through its brand RAIN, implements innovative water buffer interventions (3R) to increase access to water in Igunga, Tanzania. The Igunga Eco-village project aims to increase the resilience of 9 farmer communities. Igunga farmers are in the unfavourable position of lacking access to surface water and natural springs. Although average yearly rainfall is over 700mm, between June-September the area quickly dries up, because of negligible rainfall in these months. During this time the majority of the people rely solely on shallow groundwater taken from a nearby dry riverbed, which can be a 2 km walk (one-way). Buffering water is one of the strategies to cope with the irregular rainfall in Igunga.

In July, RAIN initiated a combined classroom and field training on subsurface dams to its implementing partner SEMA, as well as, Igunga district officers. Subsurface dams are structures that intercept the natural flow of groundwater from a river and provide underground water storage. These dams are built entirely underground and constructed with nearby found, impermeable clay. The dams contribute to more reliable access to shallow groundwater used for multiple purposes; drinking water, preparation of food and small scale irrigation.

During the training technical design, surveying, implementing stages as well as sustainability aspects were discussed. The training was perceived quite positively. Both SEMA and district officers indicated their interest in this technology, knowing of the successful application in other areas in Tanzania; going back to the year 1914 when subsurface dams secured water supply to people and steam engines during the construction of the 1252km railway between Dar Es Salam and Kigoma.

So, though successful examples of subsurface dams in Tanzania exist, in Igunga region no such initiatives are available yet. This August, with support of RAIN, partner SEMA will coordinate the implementation of two subsurface dams.

The two dams serve as demonstration pilots. The dams are implemented at locations where a project supported, community owned water supply organisation is already established. Committee members, who will benefit from the dam, provide their in-kind contribution to the dam implementation.

For more information, please contact Arnoud Keizer

Video: Surveying dry riverbeds in Igunga District, Tanzania

Video: Shallow water well established by ecovillage project Igunga