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10th International Rainwater Catchment Systems Conference
"Rainwater International 2001"
Mannheim, Germany - September 2001

Section 4: Rainwater Catchment in Agriculture

Paper 4.29

Rainwater Harvesting For Supplemental Irrigation: Promising Technology for Enhancing Food Security in Semiarid Areas

Stephen N. Ngigi
Kenya Rainwater Association/University of Nairobi


It is evident that irrigation continues to play a major role in poverty alleviation by providing food security, protection against famine and expanded employment opportunities. However, irrigation has only been possible where there are adequate developed water resources. In the absence of this, especially in the vast dry areas of Africa, rainwater harvesting has proved to be a viable alternative. This has been made possible by introduction of water saving irrigation technologies-precision irrigation-supplying just enough water during critical crop growing stages.

The great economy of water use is of particular relevance in water scarce areas and this makes precision irrigation an important component of sustainable rural livelihood systems. Due to un-reliable rainfall, rainwater harvesting could only make a difference if the stored water is used prudently. One way of doing this is the use of low-head drip irrigation systems. In this paper, the development of a 'local kit' is presented. The kit has been developed to address the shortcomings, among her factors, promoted by a number of agencies in Africa. The shortcomings, among other factors, prompted the search of a simple locally developed drip kit that will address the identified gaps in the promotion of low-head drip technologies in Kenya. Due to the minimum amount of water required, rainwater harvesting is an ideal source of water for the system. Hence a combination of RWH and drip irrigation technologies could go a long way in addressing the problems of water scarcity and food security in dry areas as highlighted in this paper.

PDF of full document (4pp, 47kb)

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