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Water project boosts yields as farmers grapple with climate extremes in Mozambique

The African Development Bank (AfDB)- funded water project in Mozambique has provided irrigation kits, constructed boreholes, small dams and water troughs that increased access to water for people and cattle and helped boost farmers’ yields, benefitting around 60,000 people

The project covered five districts in the country’s drought-prone Gaza province.   

Felicidade Machava, a farmer in Guija district in Mozambique and a member of Green Revolution, a farmers’ association that participated in the Sustainable Land and Water Resources Management Project (SLWRMP), recounted the story about how she filled a small truck with maize from her harvest in one year.

The 20 members of Green Revolution farmers’ association in Guija, 12 of whom are women, rotated 12 irrigation kits among themselves so that each day three farmers had the use of them on small plots. 

The project also provided a pumping system for the collective’s farmers to use. It was expensive to run – fuel costs run as high as US$15 a day – but members’ fees contributed to covering it. With advisory support from a government official in their district, the farmers generated a financial surplus by selling green beans, maize, pumpkin, kale, onion and green pepper in the local market.

According  to Machava, “In 2017, I was able to focus strongly on the production of green beans, which allowed me to buy an additional plot of land for approximately $83 and start to build a new home – which I hope to complete with the earnings of the next agricultural season.”

For farmer Rute Bila, the project has allowed her to access a reliable source of water from a river near her farmland. Bila has increased production from her fields and is now able to pay school fees for her nephews.

Under SLWRMP, Maluleque received 150 cashew and 60 mango trees and in his first crop produced 50 kilos that he was able to sell to a travelling salesman for US$1 a kilo.

The project distributed a total of 56 irrigation kits across the five participating districts, which directly benefitted 3,600 people, more than 80 per cent of them women. The target beneficiaries of the irrigation kits were trained in how to use them properly.

According to analysis by the World Bank Development Impact Evaluation Research Group of the seven-year project, irrigation kits increased farmers’ productivity threefold. And the knock-on benefits extend beyond livelihoods.

Lessons learned from the project mean it can be replicated and scaled up in other districts. Best practice from its implementation has already been incorporated into the Bank’s Drought Recovery and Agriculture Resilience Project. In addition, Mozambique government staffers have been trained in how to roll out and manage climate adaptation strategies.