Water harvesting for food security and income generation for rural women

Dr. Peter Tumutegyereize, a PhD holder works with Uganda’s state owned and biggest institution, Makerere University in the Department of Agricultural and Bio systems Engineering.

Tumuteygereize who started publishing his research in 2011 has transformed the lives of 500 women in Hoima District located in Western Uganda. While pursuing his PhD, he visited Germany University of Hohenheim in July-September 2009 as a student researcher focusing in the area of Biogas.

While in Germany, he was impressed with the country’s tremendous progress made in irrigation and this is where he started to brainstorm on how to make a positive contribution to the people in his country, Uganda.

Since Uganda is one of the African countries that have been hit hard by water shortage due to climate change, Tumutegyereize thought of having sustainable water harvesting solutions for domestic use and small scale Irrigation to help in boosting food security, but also improve on the income generation particularly for vulnerable rural women.

Dr. Tumutegyereize says one of his biggest motivation was to demonstrate that simple and affordable technologies can help in transforming people’s lives but also show others that no effort is small even if it can change the life of one person.

Statistics from the ministry of water and environment show that 61% of Ugandans have no access to safe water.

Minister for water and environment Sam Cheptoris says government has taken water provision as a priority and deliberate actions will be implemented to tackle the water challenge.

However, the challenge seems to be big because of the changing rainfall patterns that have become increasing erratic in nature.

Optimal crop water management is thus inevitable if the country is to increase and sustain agricultural production for the ever increasing population, hence the need for supplemental irrigation.

Minister Cheptoris however concedes that tackling the water problem for both domestic use and small scale irrigation needs not only the efforts of government but also individual, private sector and humanitarian agencies.

Dr. Tumutegyereize is therefore one of the few individuals with a passion to make positive change in other people’s lives especially vulnerable women.

To operationalize his idea, Tumutegyereize collaborated with Dr. Joshua Wanyama to give birth to the promotion of rain water harvesting and low head small holder irrigation system for sustained market responsive vegetable production project.

Funded by the World Bank, the two year project was implemented in Hoima district in Mid-Western Uganda from 2016-2018 in three villages of Bugambe, Mparo and Buswekera to help women farmers to harvest water for home use but also for small scale irrigation and for vegetable farming.

The vegetables selected included Nakati, Dodo, French beans and Cabbage.

The aim was to support food security to improve on the nutrition of rural women and children but also boost their incomes through selling of vegetables and Agro-processing to add value.

Supporting food supply was made possible by improving on soil conservation thorough mulching, having water harvesting cheap and water harvesting technologies to support irrigation.

These technologies ranged from digging shallow wells, rain water harvesting, sparklers systems, solar driers, drip pumps to river diversion to make water reach people’s gardens.

By the end of the project in 2018, Dr. Peter Tumutegyereize had transformed the lives of 500 women in Hoima district. His dream is to reach as many women as possible because they are the ones affected more by climate change.

Sarah Natoolo is a journalist with Uganda Broadcasting Corporation Radio