While we in the UK complain about the amount of rain falling this month, those in Tanzania are pleased for rain to fall and allow them to grow food.
When we wrote our first blog, Familia Moja Itetemia had managed to complete digging 17 holes to act as rainwater collection ponds. Due to the low rainfall, only half of the ponds had any water in them by March. However, thanks to God and the prayers of churches in Tanzania and the UK in April, there were unexpected heavy rains which have filled up most of the ponds and raised the groundwater levels everywhere.
Since then several more have been dug and there are now over 20 in the area, some more successful than others but all contributing to the available irrigation water and raising the water table and so improving local wells. Some have been stocked with fish to provide a source of quality protein.
The local people have been able to plant gardens around these and produce a harvest that has enabled them to survive and help themselves.
We have learnt that the ponds are more useful if the gardens are planted using soil improving and water sparing agricultural techniques. We are following the techniques taught in Farming God’s Way, a model established in Zimbabwe.
With the failed rains we now know, that not only do we need to place the ponds at the lowest part of the valley but also, we need to teach and demonstrate how gardens can be made sustainable even under the hardiest circumstances. We therefore, decided to hold seminars for all Familia Moja members on how to plant a garden using Farming God’s Way techniques. In March we held a seminar and had practical sessions laying out the first garden. Since then a second has been laid out by members and a third and fourth are in preparation.
In the next two months we are hoping to establish drip irrigation for two acres. This will be the first such scheme in the region and could serve as a model for many.
We will introduce you to some of the staff who are working with Familia Moja Itetemia.