Earlier this year, a group of small holder farmers in Middledrift in Nkonkobe Municipal Area came together to listen to radio programmes on rainwater harvesting. This was after they identified the current drought situation in the province as problematic. The radio programmes on rainwater harvesting were broadcasted on Forte FM radio station and were based on different rainwater harvesting and conservation practices.

During the collective radio listening, farmers compared the modern practices of harvesting rain to those based on their indigenous knowledge such as gelesha, amadanyana and having contour lines in their fields as their parents once did. One farmer exclaimed that “we used to have contours in the field while growing up and water would stay there.”

When listening to the radio programmes, the farmers went through a process of renegotiating and re-thinking rainwater harvesting practices that they had heard over the broadcasts. They began to relate practices to other elements in order to bring about new meaning and understanding of them. “We currently feel not safe having the rainwater harvesting ponds within our own yards because of some dangers which come with owning ponds inside our yard. Dangers such as infestation of mosquitoes,” said a farmer. Another farmer responded by saying, “But you can pour paraffin; we all know that water and paraffin will never mix together. The paraffin will always float over the water. This is what will drive all the worms and mosquitoes away.”

Towards the end of listening to the broadcasts, the farmers came up with new plans of what they were going to do. These plans included the implementation of rainwater harvesting practices into their fields, “I have already started digging a pond to catch rain next to my field. I have also told my family to reuse water

[grey water] and not throw it away to water the vegetables in the garden,” said one of the farmers. As a new plan, farmers also have resorted to strengthening relationships amongst themselves as they thought it was needed because they could learn from each other. The collective listening comprised of 8 small holder farmers.

By Chisala Lupele