QSA is currently working with Dabane Trust Water Workshops, an NGO established in 1991 in the Bulawayo area of Zimbabwe. Dabane Trust works with rural communities to develop simple and appropriate water abstraction equipment, giving communities access to a year round water supply.

Annual Report 2013 - 2014:


Innovative Approaches for Improving Access to Water for Food Production using Low Energy Solar Powered Pumps.

Project Costs: $56,886using funds from both DFAT and QSA

Project Results

The primary objective of this project was to reduce the workload of rural women (piloted in 12 garden groups of 216 women, 143 men) to secure safe water supplies through the modification of hand-pumps sited in river beds and dams into portable solar powered pumps.

The design team determined that Direct Current (DC) pumps were safer and identified 3 pumps that fit criteria required for community use including efficiency, portability, relatively low cost. The final design required 2 Photo Voltaic (PV) panels with 18 volt output to charge two 12 volt car batteries to provide 24 volts to energise the pump. The system starts with a flick of a switch and takes 5 hours fill up a 7000 litre tank (almost the same amount of time it took to hand pump the tank full). The tank is now full at the beginning of the day without the 5 hours of labour previously required, with additional water pumped during the day as available/needed.

Dabane Staff checking the solar panels before installation. Photo credit - QSA

Mobile frames were designed, fabricated and modified with wheels using old car tyres with custom made rims fitted to the front of the frame, making it easier to move from where it is safely housed at night to the pump site. At the same time initial orientation meetings and refresher training on practical gardening and leadership skills were held.

Field testing of the completed system occurred in one community site where the garden was clearly transformed after one month of use - a dramatic increase in produce. More water is now available for a lot less effort which was critically important for the group members who had stopped using the hand pumps in some locations due to many members frailty, ageing and chronic illness. With most garden members being women their time has been freed up to work in the gardens, fields, and other responsibilities.

Production and installation of the pumps across all communities was completed with initial feedback sessions conducted. The extended design and testing phase however meant that these installations occurred much later in the year than planned so the initial impact of the pumps is yet to be fully realised. An initial evaluation with all 12 groups after installation of the pumps has occurred. This evaluation will be invaluable as the work progresses in the second phase of this project in 2014-2015, strengthening women’s management of these water resources and developing food security and livelihoods. What is clear from the testing phase is that the design is effective, cost efficient and simple, enabling an ease of use with maintenance appropriate for the communities. It is expected to make a sustainable difference to the food security and livelihoods in these communities.

Food gardens in Gwanda District, Zimbabwe benefitting from the extra water. Photo credit - QSA

Annual Report 2012 - 2013:

Dabane Trust Water Workshops - Support for training and Improved Utilisation Low Technology Water Abstraction systems. Project costs $79,026 using QSA and AusAID funds

Dabane Trust supports rural, resource poor communities to develop, operate and manage their own sustainable water supply systems using hand pumps which are sited during dry seasons in river beds.

Project Results

The primary activity of this project was to develop innovative, interest-grabbing, purpose designed videos to deliver training in the beneficiary communities. The DVDs tackled concepts such as Gender and Clean Water Supplies, Participatory Health and Hygiene Education, and Food Production and Value Addition. The design process was participatory - from the development of the scripts, to the shooting of the videos and testing of the final product. Community members were consulted with and participated as 'actors' in the DVDs, sharing their voices and experiences. A total number of 919 community members and 7 field monitors (585 women, 201 men, 102 girls and 38 boys) participated in the production of the videos alongside Dabane staff. The reception by communities to the videos indicated that they were able to connect with the material, better retain the information provided and stay engaged as they observed people they can identify on the screen. In total the videos have been screened widely among a range of Dabane Trust communities reaching a total of 13,621 people (9114 women and 4507 men).

The Participatory Video training workshop involved training in basic video production and participatory video facilitation and was designed to train Dabane Staff, and community field monitors, 7 field monitors and 2 staff, to be able to provide feedback and assessment into the monitoring and impact of the programs Dabane implements in a participatory and qualitative way. In addition, three participatory video training workshops were conducted training 258 participants.

2 Field Monitors-Knowledge Mpofu and Priscilla Ndlovu recording a story in audio-visual format. Photo credit - Dabane Trust Water Workshops

Dabane Trust Water Workshops

In the arid and semi arid areas where Dabane Trust operates, the rivers may only flow for a few weeks in a year. Many of these rivers have been heavily silted; however when there is a sufficient depth of sediment, large volumes of water may be retained underground. As this water is stored in sand, it is naturally clean and filtered.

Traditionally temporary scoop wells in the dry river bed have been used to reach these water sources, and as the water level lowers, the wells have to be made even deeper to be effective. Frequently these wells are protected from damage or being fouled by animals with the construction of a simple brushwood fence. However, when the river flows again, which can be sudden and with great force, silt is deposited into the well and it becomes unusable. After much research and development, Dabane Trust has developed a range of low cost well points and hand-pumps which can be used to effectively draw water from below the surface of seasonally flowing rivers. These well points are placed into the deeper parts of the riverbed and connected to the hand-pumps on the river bank ensuring the installation can be used safely all year round, and will not be damaged by the river flowing. In addition this system does not have any detrimental effects on the local environment.

Dabane Trust works with community groups to train them in the use and maintenance of these pumps and have formed a task-group to do so. Training in growing subsistence vegetables is provided and the food gardens are established where the vegetables can be hand watered from the pump. It is not a scheme attached to a cash cropping irrigation system as taking in the huge volume of water such a system would require is beyond the capacity of most underground water resources - preventing communities downstream from accessing water and requiring a costly, complex technical system that would be difficult to maintain. A further issue would be the insufficient arable land close to the riverbanks.

The arid and semi arid areas where these hand-pumps have been installed are currently not productive, and this system gives rural communities access to their own food sources. In this way, somewhat isolated communities are being assisted to become better able to cope with changes resulting from climate change, and be more self sustaining.

When making Peanut Butter, first start with peanuts!

Bhejela Garden in the village of Emhlangeri which is managed by one man and fourteen women, some of whom are in this photo. Olipa Ncube has been involved with the committee here for three years. She has three children still at home and feeds her family from what she grows and is able to sometimes sell a little surplus to others. Some women used the river silt on the gardens for added soil enrichment, some used grass and other foliage clippings for mulch to reduce soil evaporation. There is not a large market nearby, but there are always neighbours willing to purchase the produce. The vegetable garden is on the riverbank of what would be a wide river but at the time of QSA's visit it was very dry.

Trainee showing a water source from within the community food gardens.

In 2012 -2013 Dabane Trust concentrated on the development of training materials through the creation of purpose designed videos designed and filmed in collaboration with the communities with whoim Dabane works. The training topics were selected to improve training delivery and to facilitate understanding of concepts that rural community members had not previously been exposed to such as; water and sanitation, health and hygeine topics, gender issues and environmental awareness.

In 2013 - 2014 Dabane Trust will focus on modifying two existing hand-pump designs previously developed by Dabane Trust, by adding solar panels. These solar-powered pumps will then be trialled in 12 communities. The primary objective of the project is to reduce the workload of rural women to secure safe water supplies. Training provided in previous years to community members focussed on the use and maintenance of hand-pump systems however community consultations have revealed this method is labour intensive, and women, particularly the elderly, HIV positive and those with physical disabilities find the extensive use of hand-pumps exhausting. Small-scale sustainable irrigated gardens, located adjacent to the pumping area, are a prime requirement to secure sufficient nutrition and a balanced diet for the community. Unfortunately hand-watering of irrigated gardens is a labour intensive activity requiring long periods of strenuous activity. The development of a solar powered pumping system that is low-tech and provides clean safe energy will lead to an increased food production and nutrition, year round food security for disadvantged families and communities, make better use of available resources (water, land and sunlight), and increase sustainability of food production systems by reducing the workload.