Project Title: (Rain)water harvesting (Rain)Water harvesting for the adaptation of the Andean agriculture to climate change
Organization: GIZ, Programa de Desarrollo Agropecuario Sustentable – PROAGRO (Programme for sustainable agriculture development)
Period: 2008 - ongoing
Location: Latin America, Bolivia, District Potosí and District Cochabamba
In the rural area of Bolivia’s semi-arid
Andes, the rural population’s livelihood is based on subsistence-oriented agriculture,
including rain-fed cultivation of potatoes, corn and wheat as well as livestock. However, the rural household face food insecurity because the harsh climatic conditions and the mountainous natural environment (7 months of dry season and a low average temperature) as well as the effects of climatic changes limit agriculture production. Increasing heavy rains result in a rapid surface water runoff without sufficient infiltration on fields located on slopes as well as erosion. In addition, evaporation and thus the water requirement of crops increase due to higher average temperatures. The available irrigation water from precipitation is insufficient to secure the harvests. Therefore, farmers need additional water to sufficiently irrigate rain-fed land.
The project introduces water storages and (rain)water harvesting and the usage of water in small-scale irrigation systems. The technical design of existing traditional water reservoirs is improved, or the construction of new water reservoirs fed by perennial streams or springs is supported. In areas without permanent water sources, specific water reservoirs (atajados) are initiated in order to store rain water. The farmers also receive support and training in sustainable usage of land and stored water resources. To increase the efficient water usage on the field, simple sprinkler irrigation systems are introduced. With the sprinklers, the available water irrigates more land than in traditional irrigation systems. Further activities aim to increase the vegetation on pasture land, to decrease surface water run-off and erosion, and to reduce sediments in the water reservoirs. Capacity building on local, regional and national level supports independent up-scaling of the activities in other communities, and integrates water harvesting activities in national sector policies and strategies, such as vulnerability due to climate change, poverty reduction in rural areas, and support of food security.
Since 2008, more than 775 small-scale irrigation systems, including 372 atajados
, were implemented in 10 communities for 1700
families. Therefore dry periods with frequent lack of water and precipitation can be managed better.
With a 2000 cubic metre rain water reservoir, the gross value of the agricultural subsistence production increased by 40%. The amount of farmers’ crop surplus doubled.
The success of the implemented activities depends on aspects such as extent of lack of water, access to local markets, and capacity and willingness of local farmers to implement repair works and innovative improvements independently.
The agriculture yields are secured and the food security of rural farmers increased. Depending on the altitude, due to efficient sprinkler irrigation systems two or three harvest can be achieved per year, agriculture yields increased, and the surplus can be sold at the market. Thus, the seasonal local supply of food and the nutrition values in farmers’ diet are improved. The sowing can be done earlier, and thus the risk of crop loss due to hail and frost is reduced. Crops can be cultivated and harvested also during off-season. Due to increased yields and income, the male family members are less forced to migrate to urban areas for unskilled labour work. Some families cultivate green fodder for animals, and thus increase the nurtition of animals and reuce the stress on the pasture lands. The water reservoirs are used as watering place for animals.
Replication potential (up scaling)
Some challenges that need to be discussed before the project should be scaled up:
- Cost-benefit factor: water reservoirs used by different households (in average four households) are more economical, but also more prone to conflicts between the users; for atajados, basins with a storage capacity of 1,300m³ proved to be of value
- Infrastructure and maintenance: systems with permanent water flows are easier to operate and maintain than atajados; good quality of the structures is important; water permeability has to be controlled, and in case of high permeability the lining with clay is vital
- Capacity development is needed in efficient irrigation systems and for operation & maintenance, as well as for the use of sprinkler irrigation and irrigation plans or the selection of crops; advisory services in the first to two years is essential
- High financial inputs required: high demand of personnel for design, planning, cooperation with the communities and other institutions, guidance of subcontractors, support of the users etc.; atajados need comprehensive control for the construction as well as for operation and maintenance.
- Thomas Heindrichs, head of programme PROAGRO Bolivia: Thomas.Heindrichs@giz.de
- Johanna Goetter: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Anna Kalisch, Anna.Kalisch@ giz.de
- Elisabeth van den Akker: Elisabeth.Akkeremail@example.com
For further information on rainwater harvesting see the article water harvesting.
- ↑ Rainwater harvesting-System (atajado): ca. 5.500 US$ per project and family; Water harvesting-System with permanent water source: 2.200 US$ per project