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Water Harvesting: bringing water to communities

Scaling-up: This technology is suitable for both crop- and range-based production systems with the necessary topographical and soil/substrate conditions.

The biggest challenge in dryland agriculture is low and erratic rainfall. A new technology package is available that can help build effective, low-cost systems for harvesting rainwater. This will deliver larger and more stable water supplies for crops and livestock, even in very dry areas.

This technology has been tested in several countries including Syria, Jordan and Libya – three of the world’s driest regions. It relies on existing information – cadastral maps, supplemented with data on soil, topography and other factors. Using GIS analysis, scientists identify specific areas best suited for constructing water harvesting systems.

This method greatly reduces the time and cost of implementing water harvesting systems.

In Eritrea, ICARDA and its partners used a GIS model, adapted to data-poor environments, to produce a ‘suitability map’ of the Zoba Debub area, to assess the potential of different water harvesting techniques. This analysis showed that water harvesting potential in the project area (as in many dry areas worldwide) was much higher than previously realized.

In Jordan, a multi-component technology package (water harvesting plus other innovations) has helped rehabilitate degraded rangeland areas, reduce erosion, and improve the production of fodder for livestock.

Other proven interventions include:

  • Mechanized construction of micro-catchment to harvest rainwater
  • Planting indigenous fodder shrubs around water catchment ponds
  • Effective water harvesting even from very low rainfall events
  • Soil loss reduced by nearly 70%
  • Benefit-cost ratio up to 12:1