Rainwater Harvesting Project

Rainwater Harvesting Project: Mitigating the impacts of climate change through tied contours and infield water harvesting techniques in semi-arid smallholder farming areas of Mutare

Funding Organization: University Research Board, International Foundation for Science (IFS) Grant

Brief description of the project:

Inadequate and poor rainfall distribution, and poor soil fertility are the major crop production constraint in semi-arid Sub-Saharan Africa.                                

Irrigation is the best way to produce crops in this region but competing claims for water, coupled with prohibitive development and maintenance costs often limit irrigation development in the region. Rainwater harvesting is a viable option for mitigating against droughts and dry spells in the region. The study is being conducted in Marange Communal Lands in Manicaland Province.  

The Faculty of Agriculture and Environmental Science through a team led by Professor G. Nyamadzawo (gnyama@yahoo.com) has launched a research project whose main objective is to improve the capacity of smallholder communities to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change through the training and promotion of tied contours and infield water harvesting technologies in Marange and Zimunya areas located in Mutare District. 

In the backdrop of pilot studies conducted between 2012 and 2015 that have shown that under extreme drought conditions, maize yields under tied contours average about 1.6 t per hectare compared to 0.6 t per hectare under standard contours, the team has been motivated to embark on a massive scaling-up project which will thrust smallholder farmers at the forefront of a sustainable agricultural revolution.

The project which is funded by the Candian Fund for Local Iniatives – CFLI (through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development  – DFATD) and Bindura University of Science Education partnered by Agritex, Mutare District also aims at improving the food security of households through increased crop yields even under extreme weather conditions.

The main activities of the project include:

  • Training of 5000 households/farmers in making tied contours
  • Training of trainers (train 100 extension officers and lead farmers)
  • Establishment of 63 climate farmer field schools which will be the community’s learning centres for water harvesting and climate smart agriculture
  • Carrying out field days to showcase benefits of tied contours

Training activities were carried out from 2 November 2016 to 4 December 2016.  This involved the following:

  • Training of extension officers (2 sessions of Training of Trainers) to equip extension officers with the relevant training skills
  • Training of 5000 Lead farmers on water harvesting using tied contours and in-field water harvest for climate change adaptation and mitigation and
  • Establishment of 63 farmer learning centers (FLC) or demonstration sites at each site were lead farmers were trained. 

Other pending activities include mid-season field tours in January as well as field days to showcase benefits of tied contours in February and March.

The team is also in the process of requesting for additional assistance from the BUSE Research and Postgraduate Centre to facilitate socioeconomic impact assessment studies which will also unravel the prevalence and extent of spontaneous adoption of these technologies.

Research Team Leader: Prof. George Nyamadzawo 


Other Team Members:

  • Innocent Wadzanayi Nyakudya (PhD)
  • Jephita Gotosa (MSc)
  • Fadzai Moyo (MPhil Student)
  • Pasipanodya Chiturike (MPhil Student)