20 December 2016 – Earlier this month, the San (Bushmen) living in the Nyae Nyae Conservancy received the British High Commissioner, H.E. Jo Lomas as guest to show her their successful vegetable project.
Although groundwater is abundant, the relative scarcity of boreholes and the cost of pumping water to the surface, prevented the communities living in the conservancy from effectively tapping this source of potential irrigation.
Help came from the European Union two years ago, under the EU Climate Change Adaptation Project. Water is now drawn from boreholes using solar pumps, bringing the cost down considerably. The San use this water for their livestock but also to grow vegetables to complement their veld food sustenance.
The project also supports the San to harvest Devil’s Claw, an indigenous bush used widely in medicine. The Devil’s Claw is cleaned, diced and dried before sold to international traders. This provides the San community with a cash income. This year, the Nyae Nyae San sold a bumper crop.
While visiting the Nyae Nyae conservancy it became clear that the European Union Climate Change Project really is about enabling and empowering the people to do things for themselves. In the end the project will only last three years and the San community will have to continue to implement and employ their new-found knowledge whether it is small-scale gardening, livestock husbandry or Devils Claw harvesting.
Said Ms Lomas “I was very impressed by the healthy state of the gardens and the variety of fruit and vegetables produced in these conditions. The ability to use solar powered pumps to water the gardens and the skills that the villagers have acquired, have turned them into avid gardeners. It will definitely help improve the health and livelihoods of local people. It is great to see a project implemented and being successful; in such a short space of time.”