Small-scale water harvesting structures in the Limpopo zone, Botswana

The Limpopo zone in the landlocked country Botswana is a typical semi-arid area. The main livelihoods in the area are rain-fed agriculture and livestock keeping. The area is impaired by droughts and prolonged dry seasons. Temperatures have been rising since the 1960s and are projected to rise by another 2-3.5°C by 2050. Rainfall has been decreasing at least since 1970 and is projected to decrease by another 15% by 2050.

The aim of this project, which is carried out in conjunction with the Groundwater and Drought Management Project (GDMP) of the South African Development Community (SADC), is to see whether small-scale water harvesting structures can help to diversify the livelihoods of the population to make them less vulnerable to climate change and to cater for self-sufficiency in terms of food supply.

Local Action

A survey with the local community and some in-depth interviews with relevant policymakers has provided the project team with information of the current vulnerability and risk perceptions towards climate (change) related hazards in the dry southeast of Botswana. SADC has built, in cooperation with ADAPTS, three sand dams and an irrigation system to see whether these small-scale water harvesting structures provide a good and trustworthy source of water for local communities.


Local government officials, environment and consultancy firms and university lecturers have visited the sand dams and irrigation system. It is concluded that adaptation is essential and small scale water harvesting techniques have potential to harvest water for agricultural purposes. 

The local communities will be responsible for managing the system and crop production. This concept of self-sufficiency at the community level is new in Botswana. This bottom-up approach is a strong example of a small scale community based measure that can help reduce the negative impacts of climate change. The ADAPTS project in Botswana is therefore a showcase for other communities.


Factsheet Botswana version March 2011