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In January, twenty four farmers gathered in Mkonoo villiage near Arusha Tanzania. They came together in the home of a widow by the name of Kalainey Lobarani to learn more about water harvesting and kitchen gardening techniques. Like so many small-scale farmers around the world their main interest is to improve the nutrition of their families through year round gardens, and to improve their overall food security.

Two exciting methods were presented by representatives from RUCONET (an ECHO/IDIN Picogrant recipient) and ECHO. First, they participated in a theoretical training on water harvesting which concluded with participants digging a hafir, a 10,000 litre plastic lined cistern which costs only about US$90 to build. After establishing the hafir, the group was keen to learn about a novel way to establish kitchen gardens by the keyhole method.

Farmers around a demonstration keyhole garden

Keyhole gardens are raised round garden beds heavy with compost manure which only needs to be renewed after 3 years of use. These uniquely shaped gardens use waste kitchen water and can produce herbs, greens and vegetables throughout the year by a continuous planting/harvesting method. Water consumption is reduced through mulching, and a compost cylinder in the center filters waste water prior to absorption into the garden. The farmers in attendence committed themselves to helping each other to establish these kinds of gardens so that each should have one near their kitchens.

For more information on hafirs and other water conservation techniques see ECHO Best Practice Notes: Assisting Pastoralists and EDN 111 (Sand Dams)

For more information on yard gardens see EDN 124.