As I mentioned in the previous blog post, another problem facing our gardens is reliable access to water. The entire village has a water problem, and to be honest I’m not quite sure why.
In the main village of Kijungumoto and several surrounding sub-villages, there are water taps at several points around town. These communal taps are either owned by individuals or the village itself, and they are how most people get all the water they use. The taps are great because when they are on, water is mere yards away– when they are on. For some reason I do not fully understand, none of the taps in Kijungumoto are consistently available. The water gets cut frequently and the whole village will go for days without water, and when they are on the water is only available for about 2 hours a day. Since these taps are how the entire village gets water for cooking, cleaning, drinking, everything, the lines to get water are always incredibly long. People will line up with their buckets and wait, just hoping to get some water before the taps shut off. Oddly enough, the taps are more reliably on at night. For this reason, many people (myself included) will wake up at 4:00 AM to get water, and by 4:30 there is usually a line. As you can see, water is a huge problem for the village as a whole, not to mention home gardens.
With this unreliable water access in town and the unreliable rains, we knew we needed a water management plan to keep the gardens healthy and well-watered, even when water is not available. The main way we are addressing the issue is through water storage tanks. I went around to each garden and took measurements, and using that information determined the size of tank needed for each garden. For the majority of gardens, 500 and 1,000 liter tanks were sufficient. There are 3 exceptions: Mama Eliza, Bakari, and Rajabu. Mama Eliza has the largest garden in our group, and it is directly adjacent to Bakari’s garden. Due to the size and proximity of these two gardens, they are sharing a 2,000 liter water tank. Rajabu’s garden is the smallest, and his water situation is kind of unique.
Rajabu technically lives in Pida, a much smaller sub-village so close to Kmoto I still don’t know where one stops and the other ends. In Pida, the water is surprisingly more reliable. The one tap for the sub-village is on most hours of the day, and when the Kmoto taps are off this tap is sometimes still flowing. When Kmoto is out of water for several days at a time this tap is an emergency source, but it is not really feasible for people in Kmoto to access at other times due to the fact that it is just one water tap. But for Rajabu, this is great. Due to his small garden and more reliable water, he did not get a tank. Instead, he is using ten 20 liter water jugs and a bicycle. Although he lives pretty close to the tap, his house is up a hill—hence, the bicycle.
With this water management plan in place, the Partners are able to store water pretty easily. The general idea is that the tanks sit in the garden (on brick and cement tank stands we built specifically for them) and there is a spout at the bottom. The tank stands are tall enough to fit a watering can under the spout, and the Partners use the watering can to water their gardens. The large size of the tanks is great, but it also makes them hard to fill with water. The majority of my Partners are older adults, and it can be difficult for them to step up onto the stand with a heavy bucket of water to fill the tank. To make them easier to fill, we also purchased 2 long hoses to share amongst the group. These hoses can connect to a tap directly, and then all that’s left to do is put the other end of the hose inside the tank—this will fill them in no time!
Now that each garden has a strong perimeter and plentiful water, the next step is making the soil ready for planting. Tune in to the next blog to learn about our planting plans!