Children helping their families transport water from source in Oben

 

Water supply continues to be a critical issue in Oé-Cusse. The farming communities living in the mountains of Oé-Cusse face problems with the scarcity of water every year during the dry season. Although the springs used to have sufficient water in the past, the water has been gradually dried off due to the malpractices, such as deforestation, shifting cultivation, and a rapid increase in water demand. Since farmers do not give enough attention to conserving the soils and water sources to save water during the dry season, there is a need to assist the farming communities to adopt soil conservation practices and water harvesting practices, encourage them to plant trees which can offer multiple outcomes besides water conservation and prevention of erosion. The productivity of agriculture, which is the main livelihood of the majority of the population in Oé-Cusse region, remains low every planting season. One of the distinct reasons is the lack of knowledge on good agricultural techniques, such as watershed management, terracing, appropriate use of fertilizer and pesticide, and so forth. Instead, the majority of farmers are still practicing traditional farming methods, like slash and burn and shifting cultivation. This has created a large extent of barren land area which leads to soil erosion and drought in Oé-Cusse. As the water sources in the catchment area are not maintained properly, the rainwater mostly runs off to rivers and the sea. Consequently, the soil moisture and infiltration have been reduced, which caused the depletion of water in the springs after years.

The dried spring in August, in Oben
The plan for catchment area development

 

UNDP, in partnership with the local Goverment of Oé-Cusse, and both local NGOS, AFFOS and PERMATIL, introduced water conservation and management at the catchment areas in Qubiselo, Oben and Lakufoan. For the revitalization of springs in the watershed, different types of trees were planted with the local communities, and swales, contour bunds, infiltration pits, stone bunds and trash bunds are developed to store water in the soil during the rainy season.

A community-based capacity building and awareness-raising on the conservation of water source and soil are strengthened by introducing more practical methods, namely infiltration pits infiltration ponds, trash bunds, stone dams, and planting trees. These methods are not only to protect water source and prevent soil erosion, but also to increase economic production, local employment in this region. Crops such as Beatle nuts, Dragon fruit, Rambutan, Bamboo, and Albizia can be planted with coffee in the mountain areas. These plants are first taken cared in nurseries, then distributed to selected communities to plant in their water catchment areas. Also, it is important that the communities are well trained and engage in developing water harvesting structures, such as infiltration ponds, swales, infiltration pits, trash bunds, stone dams, and small scale dams across streams, to regenerate the springs which has been damaged by deforestation.

The Oben spring before constructing the small dam with filter in spring August 2021, Oben

Development of Catchment area in Oben

The aim of the activities is to conserve the water as well as to revive the springs located in the area.

  • 25 families depend on the springs which normally dries off during the dry season in July every year.
  • These families have to go down to fetch water for drinking and washing purposes. These activities were implemented by AFFOS with the participation of 32 households in the village in an area of 4 ha.
  • 10 small infiltration pits, swales, and 10 trash bunds were constructed with the participation of the community in the upper catchment area to increase the infiltration of water.
  • 975 trees were planted in the upper catchment area and in the stream (Arecanut, Dragon fruit, Rambutan, Pandan, and Coffee)
  • Trash bunds were built in the upper stream to slow down the water flow.
  • One small dam with a gabion wall, a stone filter, and a check dam was built across the spring to stop the flow of water and clean the water
  • One concrete storage tank with the capacity of 3m3 was built to collect water, pumped up above 10m to a distribution tank of 3m3.

 

Reforestation to prevent erosion.

Swales built in the slopes to slow down water runoff and increase infiltration
Women and children wait near the spring to collect water

Development of Catchment area in Qubiselo

  • The aim of the activities is to conserve the water, reduce soil erosion as well as revive well-eroded areas with reforestation.
  • 35 families depend on the spring located below their residential area, it normally dries off during the dry season. These families have to go down to fetch water. These activities were implemented by AFFOS with the participation of 35 households in the village in an area of 8 ha.
  • 20 small infiltration pits, swales, and 25 stone dams were constructed with the participation of the community in the upper catchment area to increase the infiltration of water and to slow down the water.
  • 1000 trees were planted in the upper catchment area and in the stream (Arecanut, Dragon fruit, Rambutan, Pandan, and Bamboo)
  • Stone dams were built in the upper stream to slow down the water flow.

Development of Catchment Area in Lakufoan

  • The aim of the activities is to conserve the water as well as to revive the spring in the area.
  • 67 families depend on the spring which normally dries off during the dry season and the water flow is very low. These families have to go down 30 m to fetch water for drinking and washing purposes.
  • These activities were implemented by PERMATIL with the participation of 65 households in the village in an area of 10 ha.
  • 4 infiltration ponds, 5 small infiltration pits, swales, and trash bunds were constructed with the participation of the community in the upper catchment area to increase the infiltration of water.
  • 950 trees were planted in the upper catchment area and in the stream ( Dragon fruit, Pineapple, Lemon, Pandan, and Coffee)
  • One concrete storage tank with the capacity of 3m3 was built to collect water, pumped up above 30m to a distribution tank of 5m3. The water is distributed to the community in three distribution points.
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