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Increasing Access to Water in Cabinda, Angola

According to a 2006 report by the UN Development Program, the average person in Spain consumes approximately 325 litres of water per day. In Angola, this number goes down to a mere 30 litres. Keeping in mind that this number is an average (meaning that some people consume much more, and others, much less), and that having access to less than 50 litres per person per day is classified as water poverty, one begins to get an idea of the drastic need for improved access to the vital resource, particularly in rural areas across Angola.

Cabinda, a small Angolan exclave to the north of the country, is located in Africa’s tropical region, meaning that it receives a considerable amount of rainfall throughout the year. It has considerable water stores; however, a severe lack of infrastructure means that a large portion of the population has little access to these stores and is unable to meet their basic water needs. In 2015, the government began a large-scale plan to improve water access for domestic use across the country. However, the national economy has been heavily impacted by the drop in global oil prices and public spending has been drastically cut. As a result, this plan, along with many other infrastructural developments, has been sidelined for the time being.

Improving access to water for both domestic and agricultural use is a large part of the Humana People to People’s Farmers Clubs project in Cabinda. Run by ADPP Angola, the project is working with small-scale farmers to improve crop production through sustainable agricultural practices, including efficient and effective use of essential resources.

The efforts involved in increasing access to water even in a small-sized area present a major obstacle to achieving improved crop production. Even during the rainy season, extra irrigation is often necessary. To meet this need, rope pumps have been constructed in each of the 20 clubs, close to the farmers’ fields, making irrigation significantly easier.

The idea of low-cost-technology is a Humana People to People approach to development that is built around utilization of local resources in answering people’s social challenges. One such an example is the concept of a rope and washer pump. A rope pump is a cheap and convenient way to decrease the efforts involved in collecting water from a traditional well. The rope for the well has “knots” at regular intervals, and a pipe which leads up from the water. A wheel is used as a levy, and when turned, water is pushed into the pipe and up to where a person’s bucket is waiting to collect it.

Furthermore, drip irrigation systems have been installed in each of the clubs’ demonstration fields, where farmers work as a collective to learn new techniques and share crops among themselves.

The two new systems have been highly popular, with many participants requesting help to construct rope pumps in their own private wells. Although at this stage the project is unable to provide all participants with their own rope pump, a total of 48 water technicians, in training at the nearby ADPP Angola Vocational Training School Cabinda, could potentially provide a link between supply and demand for the simple technology that makes collecting water so much quicker, safer and less physically demanding.

According to a monitoring assessment carried out in July 2016, half of the farmers at the project have already increased their food production to the point where they are able to sell a surplus, earning an average income of $819 per hectare’s harvest. This means that, not only do participants now have a source of food year-round, but the income they earn can be spent on things like medical expenses and children’s education.

Farmers’ Clubs Cabinda mirrors the vision of Humana People to People on how to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goal 6. This is exemplified by working on increasing water-use efficiency in rural farming communities with focus on addressing perennial farming water scarcity and substantially reducing the number of months per year where people are exposed to hunger.