Like many places around the world, water is a precious resource in Zambia’s Simalaha Community Conservancy, especially for the communities who do not live near rivers or other large water bodies. Besides being dependent on water for human consumption, such as drinking, cooking and cleaning, these communities also rely on reliable access to water for their livelihoods by keeping domestic livestock and agriculture projects going.
As outlined in Goal 6 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, Peace Parks works to secure availability and access to clean drinking water for communities living in remote areas in transfrontier conservation areas. Ian Middleton, Simalaha Project Manager, explains how the communities are working together with Peace Parks Foundation to ensure the availability and sustainability of clean water. It is with thanks to generous donor support that Peace Parks has secured machines such as diggers and graders that are able to open new wells in these areas, providing communities with access to water for most of the year. Not only have new wells been dug, but Ian explains that the existing ones have been deepened to ensure that enough water is collected when the summer rains arrive.
Although the earth looks dry and dusty in the video above, Simalaha’s landscape completely transforms during the rainy summer season. The dry floodplains shimmer with water as the Zambezi River bursts her banks, creating a confluence with runoff water originating from the Zambian highlands. You can watch the incredible transformation of Simalaha here.
Although these life-giving waters restore groundwater levels and sustain communities for a few months into the dry season, the long, dry winter quickly saps the earth of its precious stored water, leaving failed crops in its stead. This directly affects the food security of those living in the landscape, so one solution to this came about when the community came together to identify areas that stored water longer than others, which is where the wells have been dug. Enhanced, eco-friendly farming practices, combined with access to water all year round through the installation of human-powered treadle pumps and guidance from local plant doctors, communities are now able to grow an array of healthy-looking crops, regardless of the season. This not only provides them with a more balanced diet, but helps with the restoration of precious natural resources.