Water Harvesting: A practical Disaster Risk Reduction technique for Smallholder Farmers in Guyana

Posted June 4, 2021

Ms. Maria and Mr. Marco Blanco demonstrate their water system at their farm located in Paruima Village, Upper Mazaruni (Region 7), Guyana.

Ms. Maria and Mr. Marco Blanco are residents of Paruima Village, Upper Mazaruni, Region 7. At a very young age they migrated to neighboring Venezuela in search of a better life. However, in 2010, now ageing, they decided to return to their homeland to live permanently in the village of their birth. Among their possessions were pieces of garden hose which Marco thought would be useful in Guyana.

During the dry seasons, the availability of water for household use and watering crops is limited. However, residents like Marco are using innovative ways to address this problem. Marco now harvests water in a pond located on the nearby mountain and transports it to his backyard using the pieces of hose that he brought from Venezuela. This initiative reduces the effort of carrying water long distances to water his crops in his home garden where he grows several crops, including, Corn, Cassava, Pepper, Banana and Sugarcane.

Water harvesting is a Climate Smart, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) initiative that can reduce the risk of disasters, such as floods and droughts. The Japanese government funded project, “Strengthening Disaster Management Capacity of Women in the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and Commonwealth of Dominica”, provides support to Smallholder Farmers to adapt similar DRR initiatives.

Mr. Marco Blanco with some of their garden crops in the bakcground.

This support is necessary, especially for Smallholder Farmers who are most vulnerable to such disasters. Maria is determined to further reduce the labour intensive task of watering crops daily.

“We need more hose to take the water directly into our home and garden” says Maria. “But we can’t afford it since it is too expensive” she explained. Residents are very proud of Mr. and Ms. Blanco’s achievements.

“We would like to use a system like this to provide water for our shade house” says Ms. Sandra Edmund, head of the Paruima Women’s Agriculture Group. “It would be a permanent fix to our water problem since it does not dry out in the dry season” she said.

The Blanco’s water harvesting system eliminates the need for a water pump to distribute the water. This is because the water source is located on the mountain at a higher elevation than their garden, hence, providing a gravity flow suitable for irrigating crops.

Thanks to Mr. and Ms. Blanco, residents are seeing a tangible example of how simple solutions can address a complex problem.

For more information or media inquiries, please contact: Jason Chacon, Project Manager – Disaster Risk Management (DRM): jason.chacon@undp.org | 592-226-4040 Ext: 252

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