When rain falls on Salongo Peter Ddaki’s family compound, it is not allowed to go waste as is the case with most people. Every drop of water that falls on the main family house’s roof is directed into water valleys (engogo), which are attached to the front of the house, which in turn direct it to an underground water tank where it is stored for further use.
The big, underground tank looks like a house constructed underneath. Although Ddaki says you can have a tank of any size, his tank is 18ft long, 11ft in breadth and 5.5ft deep.
While most similar tanks are made of concrete walls and floors, this one has a special water holding polythene sheet, lined along the walls.
Ddaki covered the tank with iron sheets in order to stop contamination of the water by flood waters and to make it more secure from children mainly. A hole, the size of a common manhole cover was then created through the iron sheets. It is through this that a pipe is placed to access the water.
“It has a capacity of 38,000 litres of water,” Ddaki says.
The tank has never before been filled with water, however, the family is working to make this possible.
Ddaki’s water harvesting innovation, in Masaka, near Nyendo town is earning the family more money than before.
This tank was constructed in the family compound under the Crop Livestock Integration programme, that was intended to improve food security. The programme is implemented under the National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO) and the National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLIRRI) and supported by ASARECA. In Uganda, the programme was implemented in Masaka and Ngora districts.
The project focused on scaling technologies to improve the productivity of the dairy and vegetable value chains.
Ddaki rightly says this system has revolutionised his farm.
“We have another big house under construction in the compound and as soon as it is completed, we shall connect water valleys onto it,” he says.
The water harvesting was made even more ‘wonderful’ after the family got a wonder irrigation pump’ under the project.
“Before we got it, we used a half-cut jerrycan, attached to a rope to draw water from the tank. We now simply pedal away the water into the farm,” Ddaki says.
Dr Jolly Kabirizi, who was the principal investigator of the project, says the wonder pump costs at least sh300,000 if bought on the open market. In addition to the pedaled pump, the farmer was also given a 500 metre water hose.
“The long hose means that the farmer can water plants a long way from the pump and the water source,” Kabirizi says. Certainly, this a technology that can be adopted by farmers across the country.
The benefits for the family have been tremendous.
“Previously, we used to grow vegetables seasonally, however, now we grow them all the time,” Nalongo Maria Ddaki says.
The family has a banana shamba and the compound is also dotted with small kitchen vegetable gardens, thanks to the pump.
The wonder pump has also enabled ease the process of watering the two family cows.
“All that we do is to direct the water pipe attached to the trough and then pedal away,” Ddaki says. The pump is so simple to use that it can even be pedaled by a child.
What you need to have it
For farmers who may want to have the system constructed on their farms, the basic requirements include an iron sheet-roofed house, a set of water valleys (engogo) that are connected to the house to tap water at a cost of sh20,000 for a middle-sized house, labour to dig the pit which may be sh100,000, the polythene sheet that lines the walls of the pit, which cost sh40,000-sh100,000, depending on the size, at least 5 iron sheets to cover the water pit and if one wishes to have the wonder irrigation pump to ease drawing and spreading water on the farm. In total, sh600,000 can get you this innovation.