In situ rainwater harvesting using dead level contours in semi-arid southern Zimbabwe: Insights on the role of socio-economic factors on performance and effectiveness in Gwanda District uri icon

abstract

  • Droughts and dry spells which have characterised the past decade in Zimbabwe have seen a marked increase in the promotion and use of in situ rainwater harvesting technologies (RWHTs) as a drought mitigating strategy. A number of these technologies have been tried in recent years which include dead level contours with infiltration pits and deepened contours. Although in situ RWHTs are known to increase food security in drought prone areas, the role of socio-economic factors on their performance in terms of crop yield and scaling out is still not well understood. This study sought to investigate the socio-economic factors which influence the effectiveness of dead level contours for in situ rainwater harvesting and consequently on crop yield. The study involved 14 key informants interviews and questionnaire administration to a total of 55 respondent farmers practising in situ rainwater harvesting with dead level contours. A statistical package (Statistical Package for Social Scientists, SPSS) was used to analyse relationships between performance of RWHTs and attributes such as labour, resources, gender, experience and education. The results show a strong correlation between performance and resource status (p = 0.004). For example, within the wealthy category, 42.1% were successful, while 14.3% and 13.8% were average and poor performers respectively. Thus within the successful category, 42.1% were wealthy, while 42.1% and 15.8% were medium-rich and resource-constrained respectively. Performance rating was also significantly correlated (p = 0.007) to gender of household head e.g., within the most successful group 94.7% were men compared to 5.3% women. There was also a significant correlation between resource status and gender (p = 0.039) such that within the wealthy category, 69.2% of the respondents were men compared to 30.8% women. Labour was found to have no significance on performance (p > 0.05) even though the majority of key informants (93%) alluded that the more labour resources at one's disposal, the higher their chances of success. This is so because RWHTs are time-consuming and labour intensive. Education level and number of years using water harvesting technologies did not have a significant bearing on performance (p > 0.05). The paper concludes that resource ownership could be a key factor in farmers' ability to scale out RWHTs since performance was significantly linked to resource status. Women headed households were performing rattler poorly in RWHTs suggesting the need for special attention to gender in the promotion of RWHTs. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 2010
  • 2010