The road is flanked by fields of sunflowers, nodding at us as we bump along, filters for tanks in the back. Lositeti starts where the sunflowers stop. As we arrive, women trickle in from all directions. They’re here to collect the filters but also just to connect. The harshness of this environment makes Save the Rain a big part of life here.
The sun is so fierce and the earth so parched that it takes a lot to grow food. It’s why we chose Lositeti for rolling out with every rainwater harvesting tank. Harvested rainwater is indescribably precious, so even women with tanks at home were still walking to fetch water for their gardens. Time, energy, and sacrificed safety poured into plants that could fall to a passing chicken or a hungry goat. So much for nothing.
The rains haven’t been the same.
The drought has made scarcity more voracious, but when you hear the women talk, you wonder why anyone would settle here in the first place. The hardships make it seem almost godforsaken.
But it wasn’t always like this. Vicky remembers the Lositeti of her childhood — lush, thick forests filled with animals and birds. But people came and cut down the trees, cleared land for farming, and made charcoal to sell. Since then, the rains haven’t been the same.
Crops failed this year, so people don’t have the maize stores that would typically tide them over. But Netovuake’s earnings from the Women’s Water Initiative meant she could buy some, and her greenhouse yields a constant harvest of vegetables. It requires so little water that she can afford to use what’s in her tank.
Drought and Food Security
When so much lies beyond your control, the food security that a greenhouse delivers means everything. The Netovuake’s abundance has a ripple effect. The Nobel Laureate Ilya Prigogine wrote, ‘When a complex system is far from equilibrium, small islands of coherence in a sea of chaos have the capacity to shift the entire system to a higher order.’
There’s a Maasai saying that if you eat alone, the food will choke you – so it’s custom to find someone you know is hungry and invite them to join your meal. Collectively, there is enough: they share what they have, knowing that all of us are both givers and receivers. And we’re only ever one step away from being one or the other.
Netovuake received a residential tank and greenhouse, and now she builds countless of these for others. She and her team are currently doing just this in Kaloleni, an environment as desperate as Lositeti was. They jokingly imitate the Kaloleni menfolk’s jaws dropping as they beheld the women throwing cement sacks with ease.
These ladies will bring more than clean water. A perspective shift comes free with that too. It’s remarkable to watch systems shift to higher-order and witness rain’s transformative capacity. But we shouldn’t be surprised.
After all – water changes everything.
With $150, a family will receive a residential greenhouse that is filled with organic crops that harvest multiple times per year.
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