People in rural communities are likely to be the most severely affected by climate change impacts and yet they are often the least equipped to cope and adapt to these changes. Through community-based adaptation approaches, communities are empowered adequately use their own knowledge and decision-making processes to act on climate change.
From 2012, UNDP Tanzania has been supporting people in rural communities to increase their awareness and knowledge on climate change adaptation and mitigation through several projects at policy level as piloting at local community levels. One such project is the Climate Change Adaptation through Small Grants Programme, which has been implemented in collaboration with the Vice President’s Office, Division of Environment. Due to the success of the project through the provision of water to remote rural areas during the initial implementation period from 2013-2015, it was decided by the steering committee that the initiative should be scaled up leading to project extension to 2018.
In June 2018, UNDP fielded a mission to three villages where upscaling efforts are currently taking place – Kurio and Chinangali in Dodoma Region, and Ulyampiti in Singida Region – to see what progress has been made so far and challenges the people in the villages are facing.
Solar water pumps
The biggest challenge facing these villages has been the lack of water for domestic and agricultural use due to the impacts of climate change, which has seen less frequent rainfall leading to prolonged drought-like conditions. Villages faced by limited water supply, plus they are not connected to the national grid, solar water pumps are a perfect fit in arid regions such as Dodoma and Singida, where sunshine is generous but surface water is scarce. The water pumps use energy from solar panels to pump water from as deep as 130 meters below ground, ensuring access to water year around.
Providing access to water in these villages where there was little or no existing water infrastructure before has not only ensured that the villagers are better able to adapt to changing rainfall patterns and other impacts of climate change but as the distance to fetch water has been greatly reduced, it has also freed up time, especially for women and children, to engage in activities that were previously impossible.
One such activity is the formation of vegetable farming groups engaging in irrigation farming for commercial purposes. While subsistence farming is the norm in villages such as the ones we visited, solar irrigation has now enabled the cultivation of tomatoes, okra, peppers and other crops for sale at the market. Irrigation farming is improving food security in the villages in the face of a changing climate, as well as providing a source of income generation for farmers.
Another positive impact of the increased access to water is that children spend less time fetching water for household and school use. In Ulyampiti, the installation of new water pumps has also improved the safety of school children, as they no longer have to cross the main road to fetch water for school use.
The newly installed water pumps are all equipped with water meters, which allows the measuring and monitoring of water use. Based on the metering, villagers pay a small contribution to a common fund when they use water for irrigation, watering livestock or household consumption. One bucket for household consumption costs around 32 Tanzanian Shilling, and for livestock the price land at around 50 Tanzanian Shilling per head. The fund is reserved for water-related investments approved by the water users themselves. Examples of such uses could be the repair and maintenance of the pumps, solar panels and water pipes as well as investment in extending pipes to nearby villages and other uses the community find useful. The water fund will help to ensure that the positive impacts of the project are financially sustainable.
Although UNDP’s team witnessed many positive impacts in the three villages, there is still potential for more benefits to the communities. In time, enhanced knowledge and capacity to optimize the cultivation of crops according to seasonal changes and the salinity of the water will increase the yield of the irrigation farming. Furthermore, as the water infrastructure is expanded, the area of irrigated land can increase, giving more people the opportunity to benefit from the project.