A solar-powered 'Meerkat' is protecting South Africa's rhinos
17 February 2020
As part of the MozBio Water and Agriculture Project, two of four multi-use water systems were this week handed over to the Gala and Guengu communities in ceremonies led by the Matutuine District Permanent Secretary, Ms Ana Maria. The project also includes multi-use water systems for Massohane and Tchia communities and hand pump boreholes systems for Matchia, Mamoli, Mabuluko, Tlavane, Ticalala and Mhala communities.
These communities are located in the buffer zone adjacent to the Maputo Special Reserve (MSR) and Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve (PPMR) in the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA). The aim of this project is to support them by improving their quality of life, whilst also reducing pressure placed on natural resources.
The provision of potable water has a number of benefits. It will dramatically lessen incidents of disease contracted due to unsafe drinking water and hygiene challenges faced in the absence of clean water. The community members will also no longer need to spend hours each day walking long distances to access water. Children will be able to remain in school for longer each day instead of leaving out of desperation to quench their thirst.
The multi-use systems not only provide drinkable water, but enables the communities to provide sufficient irrigation for crops, thereby countering the impact of cyclical droughts – improving food security, and potentially also eventually equipping the farmers to convert flourishing crops into alternative livelihoods.
The hope is that the infrastructure put in place will also have a considerable impact on reducing human-wildlife conflict. Livestock often venture outside the community areas in search of water, damaging fences along the way, and entering areas where they are at risk of attack by wild predators – forcing herders into situations where they need to defend against or kill, protected carnivores. With the multi-use water system also providing a trough water outlet, there will be no need for livestock to invade the protected areas.
In order to ensure sustainable use of these systems, a water management committee will be appointed and trained in each community. The training involves both technical aspects of management, security and maintenance of the water system, as well as principles for the effective governance and economic management of the source. Training furthermore extends to educating the farmers on climate-friendly agricultural production practices, so as to increase yield whilst reducing impact on the environment.
Underlying all of these efforts is an advocacy program, driven through lectures and radio campaigns, for the conservation of biodiversity.