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Mambulu Village, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Mambulu Village depends on a small river flowing during rainy seasons and effected by flood/drought weather patterns over time. Women and children carry water in buckets from the river to homesteads and to the farm. There is very little local economy and commercial agriculture, but reasonable subsistence food production in place. Additional water-related issues are the endemic cholera in the region, as well as a culture of free-range livestock grazing, leading to water pollution, loss of vegetation, and soil erosion and reduction in groundwater absorption during rains.

What is triggering interest in new water management strategies? The creation of a community vegetable farm (Thandanani) in this remote area – operated by 90 women, where previous household gardens failed to meet subsistence needs. This initiative increases local food security and quality, reduces costs including travel away for work and food purchase. The above benefits help members to positively shift social behaviors and priorities.

Technical solutions initiated include:
•    Various climate smart agricultural techniques suited to local conditions
•    Construction of waterless compost toilet to provide safe sanitation, reduce sewage pollution (and capture and re-use nutrients)
•    Rainwater capture from the new community toilet roof into storage tanks
•    Digging of contour trenches (swales) uphill from the farm fields, planted with perennials and other useful vegetation including vetiver and lemon grass, to capture and infiltrate water during intense rains, thus preventing erosion and increasing groundwater absorption
•    Initial effort by first village family to construct their own compost toilet

Potential for social transformation is vast and seen as a developmental acupuncture point by Rucore.