Adaptations in water harvesting technologies for enhancing food security and livelihood: A multi-country study in Sub-Saharan Africa


The objective of this paper was to examine farmer-directed technology adaptation of selected water harvesting technologies (WHTs) in order to enhance their potential contribution to food security and livelihood improvement in sub-Saharan Africa. The selected WHTs included micro- and meso-scale reservoirs that store water in the soil (in situ) or in a reservoir, respectively: household ponds in Ethiopia, ndiva systems in Tanzania and combinations of mechanized zaï, grass strips and bunds in Burkina Faso. The impact of non-adapted WHTs was below expectation. Although WHTs improved yields, most families were unable to meet their (nutritional) food needs every year and experienced limited or no long-term effects on sustainable livelihood. The lining of household ponds and conveyance canals with durable materials gave promising results, yet needs economic consideration; a minimum investment may form a barrier particularly to resource-poor farmers. Incorporation of the location-specific nature of farming and livelihoods into WHT interventions is recommended, along with incentive measures to support farmers including the provision of access to credits and inputs for agricultural production.


Journal article


Ponds, Ndiva, Zaï, Bunds, Arid, Semi-arid areas