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Turning water into work

A smart mix of knowledge sharing, business training and solar powered irrigation is helping the women farmers of Zimbabwe increase their food production and their income.



Finished Project

The Challenge

Most of the rural population in Gwanda and Motobo districts rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. Farming has always been a challenge in this arid region. But climate change, poor quality soil and little access to energy for irrigation makes the everyday tasks of female farmers even harder.

  • Poor management of natural resources, paired with deforestation and overgrazing are damaging the soil, making it harder for farmers to grow enough to feed themselves and sell on for a profit.
  • Gwanda town currently imports most of its vegetables, which raises prices for locals.
  • With no access to clean energy to power irrigation systems, farmers have fewer options for growing their businesses.

“We had to carry the water from the river which took a lot of time and energy. We felt like
we were begging from our husbands for money.”

Simangaliso, Farmer, Zimbabwe

The Ingenious Solution

Taking a more rounded approach to supporting Zimbabwe’s smallholder farmers, we’re setting up services to improve irrigation, soil condition and crop yields.

  • Alongside installing 18 solar-powered irrigation schemes we’re building two sand dams to collect rain and groundwater, so there will be enough to water crops all year. With Community Management Committees trained to maintain and repair them in the future.
  • We’re introducing agro-ecological farming techniques like composting and planting nitrogen-fixing plants to improve organic matter in the soil, improving crops.
  • Working with local governments we’re carrying out environment scanning and will introduce new ways to manage the area’s natural resources, improving the land for everyone.
  • Improving access to finance and markets through training in record keeping, planning and negotiation skills to make sure farmers grow in-demand crops and get a fair price for them at local markets. Being able to sell more means farmers can afford to pay for basic needs such as education and healthcare.


This project is funded by the Isle of Man Government through its International Development Partnerships.

Project video

“For the first time we produced tangible yields. We got four 50kg bags of wheat. This meant
for the first time we had produced crops that we could sell and get hard cash for all that we
need at home.”

Result, Farmer, Zimbabwe

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