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Why every farmer must start harvesting rain water

It was reassuring to hear former Prime Minister Raila Odinga talking about rainwater harvesting while addressing the Mt Kenya youth caucus in Nairobi this week. Mr Odinga rightly mentioned that in this era of climate change where rainfall is scarce and unpredictable rainwater harvesting offers an excellent strategy for food security. Indeed, the United Nations has cited rainwater harvesting?—?as a simple, time-proven method of climate change adaptation.

It is worth noting that climate change is negatively impacting productivity especially in the arid and semi-arid areas which occupy 80 per cent of Kenya’s landmass. And for this reason, rainwater harvesting comes in handy. So what does rainwater harvesting entail?

According to studies, there are two ways of harvesting rainwater - surface runoff harvesting and rooftop rainwater harvesting. Both systems can be adopted by farmers.

Science Direct defines the term ‘water harvesting’ as the collection of rainstorm-generated runoff from a particular area (a catchment) in a bid to provide water for human, animal, or crop use. The collected water can either be used immediately or stored in aboveground ponds or in subsurface reservoirs, for future use. Since the water is clean, it rarely needs any purification or filtration.

According to ecomena.org/rainwater-harvesting/ typically, rainwater runs across the rooftops of buildings. The water can be collected in large tanks like cisterns or using tarps and it is then stored in containers until it is needed. Water can also be collected in dams and reservoirs for community usage on a long-term basis.

What are the benefits?

The collected water can significantly reduce our dependence on tapping into groundwater supplies, that are scarce. At the household level, collecting and storing water can help reduce the costly monthly water bills. Harvested water is low cost and is free of chemicals if occurring in natural, open areas.

For farmers, it is excellent for irrigation. The collected water is free from chemicals, making it a great alternative for irrigation. Reports show that it also decreases soil erosion and reduces flooding by reducing run-offs during heavy rainfall.

To set it up all you need is a collection system, storage tanks, and a simple pipe or tap system to use the water. A simple way to collect rainwater is by using the rain gutters on the roof and directing the runoff to your storage tank. More homeowners are tapping into this and are now ensuring that gutters are factored into the house design. For those who want to take personal action in climate change, using harvested rainwater is an excellent way of reducing your carbon footprint.  So go ahead and give it a try!

[Hellen Miseda, [email protected]

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