Conservation Agriculture in Swaziland
Much of southern Africa is caught in a cycle of drought and flooding, making it difficult to grow crops without use of irrigation. Swaziland is no exception, and its people often require food aid as a result. IRD helped Swazi communities to mitigate drought in Shiselweni and Lubombo provinces through a project, funded by USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. The project increased food security by training farmers in conservation agriculture and livestock development and providing seeds for drought-resistant and soil-improving crops.
A total of 1,600 farmers were trained, and 1,120 farmers prepared 288 hectares using conservation agriculture techniques. They are producing maize, sorghum, and cowpeas. Farmers established backyard and community gardens where they produce vegetables such as spinach, tomatoes, beets, onions, lettuce, cabbages, and carrots for both sale and home consumption. Farmers were also trained on managing livestock to prevent overgrazing and reducing livestock losses during drought years by reducing their numbers, establishing protected grazing fields, and practicing rotational grazing.
Provision of water, promotion of sanitation and hygiene in primary schools, and improving community-based management of water services were another important program component. IRD replaced broken Afridev pumps with deep-well handpumps called Afripumps, which are suitable for depths up to 100 meters. The installation and repair were coupled with construction of separate cattle troughs near the water point to keep the animals away from the water sources.
IRD drilled six boreholes for community gardens where handpumps or electric pumps will be installed, depending on garden viability and cost effectiveness. Single-hole squat latrines and hand-washing stations have been installed at garden sites to ensure that beneficiaries have access to proper hygiene and sanitation.
In 2008–09, IRD improved the water supply, sanitation, and hygiene in schools through installation of 39 rooftop water harvesting systems (RWH). In 2010–11, 20 RWH systems, each having a 75,000 liter capacity concrete cistern, were installed. The water harvesting systems were complemented by rehabilitation or construction of latrines and installation of hand-washing stations. IRD also trained local technicians to manage and maintain the water points. School children were trained on importance of hygiene and proper sanitation as well as maintenance of RWH systems.