Zimbabwe: technologies for multiple uses of water

Zimbabwe: technologies for multiple uses of water

TitleZimbabwe: technologies for multiple uses of water
Publication TypeStudy report
Year of PublicationSubmitted
AuthorsGuzha E, Chimbunde E, Khoza SSmits and
Publication Languageeng

This report reviews different technologies, which are being used to provide multiple uses of water in Zimbabwe. It provides a description of each of the available technologies and how they operate. An analysis is made of the implications of each of them on water use.

Citation Key323
Full Text

The need for an approach to water supply which aims to cover for both people’s domestic and productive water (the multiple use services, mus, approach) needs has gained recognition over the last few years in Zimbabwe. A range of organisations, especially NGOs are pioneering such approach in their programmes and projects.

In following such a mus approach, these organisations have started to use a range of technologies which enable multiple uses in different degrees. These range from household-based options such as family wells and rainwater harvesting devices to community-based boreholes with bush pumps; and, from drip irrigation kits to associated head works for cattle watering and laundry. These technologies differ in their functioning, their costs and especially their implications for water use.

This paper attempts to systematically document these different technologies. It does so by first providing a typology of the technologies that are being used. This typology is based upon whether technologies are typical household solutions, or communal ones. A further distinction is made along the chain of water sources, extracting and lifting devices, and then distribution devices. Each of the technologies is described in detail, especially in terms of its implications for multiple use of water.

It shows that there is not one single “best” technology for multiple uses. The household-based family wells are more expensive (in per capita costs) than the conventional boreholes with bush pumps, but allow for much higher consumption levels, which can be turned into productive use. This doesn’t mean that family wells can now spread all over the country, as they can only be applied in areas with shallow groundwater. Other technologies such as rainwater harvesting and farm ponds are complementary technology to the family wells or bush pumps, as they cannot guarantee year-round water supply. Finally, a number of technologies can be applied to save water, and reduce labour requirements in putting available water to use, ranging from cattle troughs to drip kits. To what extent these are feasible, depends mainly on the availability of water. When it is easily and readily available, the need for such technologies is less than when more effort is needed to collect water.